This weekend was full of Kite Festivals, the biggest one being in Shirone, near Sanjo. Before reading The Kite Runner, I had no idea that Kite Fights existed. Before hearing about the Kite Festivals in Niigata, I had absolutely no idea that they existed outside of Afganistan!! All I knew about kite fighting came straight out of that book, so I was excited, and expecting to see little kites, and little boys battle with bloody fingers and glass-lined ropes until one was sent flying. Of course I was expectations were completely wrong!
Apparently this is a 350-year-old festival that features kite fighting between two villages. The reason they call it a ‘Giant Kite Festival’ is because the kites that fly are actually GIANT. It all takes place on a river called Nakanokuchi, where spectators can watch from one of the two bridges that are on either side of the events, or in a designated seating area, but nowhere else. It takes about 20 full-grown people to get the kites into the sky. They near one of the bridges and then run toward the other bridge. One by one, the full-grown team members drop off from the back so that the kite can fly higher and higher. Ideally, there would have been wind this weekend so that we would have been able to see the kites fight to the death. But alas, the weather conditions were less than idea, and instead of the kites cutting each the other, they had to resort to getting tangled until they both crashed fiercely into the river.
After we had enough of watching kites soar and plummet, Jess and Flo dropped me off in Niigata City. This gave me JUST enough time to find Geneva a birthday gift before her 30th birthday dinner party!! Like I mentioned months ago, Ruu and Futoshi have the ins with everybody who’s anybody. Futoshi is good friends with the master of ‘Rocks’ a bar that serves curly fries (which is actually the reason for this place being chosen for the big event)!! Ruu was able to reserve the whole place for our party of 13. All you can drink and eat for 3000-yen, woot!!