Nara Festival

Last year when we visited our friend Miki Saito in Nara, she told us of a local kite maker, Muneyuki (Seiho) Nakamura, who had a studio/gallery. We visited with him (see China/Japan '99). He recently retired and formed the Nara kite club in 1999. He planned a festival for the second week of May 2000, and invited 100 of the top Japanese kite makers. He extended an invitation for us to attend and stay at his home and make kites in his studio.
We accepted his gracious offer. His home and the apartment were filled with kites. His icon, Daikoku, and was everywhere in his house (similar to our own frog motif).

Jennifer and Miki Saito began painting kites in his studio. Jennifer chose to paint Tengu, the shape shifter magical crow who transforms into a man with a long nose, common in Japanese mythology.
Miki and Jennifer with Mr. Nakamura in his studio
Jennifer and Miki were 3/4 finished when a rocking minivan showed up with 3 older gentlemen. The van was packed with kites, and there was a magnetic sticker on the side that said "kite van". They'd driven half the day from north of Tokyo and were old buddies of Mr. Nakamura. Immediately we were off to a nearby field to fly kites. Even though the youngest among them was mid 60's they all seemed like kids.
The group opened boxes of their hand painted kites, and popped them into the air. When one crashed they simply took it in and put up another. Kite after kite went up in the air for the next few hours. It was a fabulous private display of Japanese kites.
The next day more kite friends arrived. They began making Jennifer and Miki’s paintings into tossa kites right on the living room floor, cutting the bamboo, ironing the artwork, pasting the kites on the frame, cutting tassles. Great fun.
Mr. Modegi, and his wife and assistant arrived to a full house- the festival wasn’t until Sunday, and it was only Friday. The excitement was definitely building.
Saturday we all went to a conference center which had a hot spring, and guest accomodations. In the afternoon a bus load of the kite fliers visited some of the wonderful temples in Nara. That evening we had the opening party and requisite kite auction ensued.
Sunday the festival began with taiko drumming and an opening ceremony thanking Mr. Nakamura for starting this new festival.
The winds were so light at first we walked around and viewed kites on the ground. But by mid afternoon a breeze came up and the kite flying action began. Thank you Mr. Nakamura for starting this wonderful festival of fantastic kite artists.