Shirone Takogassen (huge kite fighting festival) along the Nakanokuchi river bank in Shirone, Niigata Pref.
5th - 9th June, 2015 | along the Nakanokuchi river bank in Shirone, Niigata
Shirone Takogassen is a huge kite fighting festival that last for five days and is held along the Nakanokuchi river bank in Shirone, Niigata Prefecture. Over 300 years old, it is said to be the world’s largest kite fight. About 300 kites take part. They are made from bamboo and washi paper and can be as large as 23-x-17 feet and weigh as much as 50 kilograms. Each kite has a unique design that has in some cases remained unchanged for three centuries. Tsugaru kites are often decorated with well-known historical figures. Many have ukiyoe-style pictures. The rope is made at great expense from hemp.
Teams from Shirane compete against teams from nearby Akikatamaru village. In a typical fight one kite from Shirone is raised on one side of the river and a second kite from Akikatamaru is raised on the other side of the river. Teams of 30 to 50 men run along the river bank, pulling the kites towards one another. The teams the severe the other’s line—usually in just a few minutes—is the winner. Seven matches are held with seven groups from each town. The number of battles won and the amount of time the kites stay aloft determines the overall winner.
Describing one fight Tatsuya Sakamoto wrote in the Daily Yomiuri: “Giant Kites waged a dynamic air battle...Their lines became entangled with one another high above the 80-meter-wide stream before plunging into the water. Participants then yanked on the 130-meter-long lines with all their might in what quickly became a giant tug of war.” official website ›› http://www.shironekankou.jp/tako/