Niigata's Shirone Giant Kite Battle (June 2-6)

The Shirone Giant Kite Battle  
A stirring contest of soaring giant kites

2011 Dates & Times: June 2 (Thu.) – 6 (Mon.), 2011 13:00 - 18:00
Location:  Nakanokuchigawa Riverbank, Minami-ku, Niigata-shi (Between the Takomibashi and Shironebashi Bridges)
Access:  From Tokyo: Joetsu Shinkansen Tokyo Stn → Niigata Stn.
(1) Take bus from Niigata Stn. (Shirone Line) (60 minutes)
Weekdays: Disembark at Gonochou. Sat. & Sun.: Disembark at Shirone Sho Mae or Kensei Byouin Mae
(2)) Take bus from Niigata Stn. (Ajikata Line) (60 minutes) and disembark at Shirone Chu.


◎ What exactly is the Shirone Giant Kite Battle?
niigataFrom opposing banks of the 80-meter wide Nakanokuchi River, a branch of the mighty Shinano River which runs through the City of Niigata, groups of 30 to 40 kite flyers assemble to fly gargantuan kites of a truly breathtaking scale. Measuring seven meters high, five meters across, and weighing in at over 50kg each, they soar across the river where they get entangled in the strings (actually ropes) of the opposing side, and crash into the water below. What follows is a do-or-die tug-of-war match, with hundreds of men, women and children throwing their backs into the effort to break the rope of the opposing team. Bystanders may be enlisted to join the struggle so be forewarned!
The Shirone Giant Kite Battle has been around since the middle of the Edo Period (1603-1868). Held in early summer, this annual tradition has become a symbol of the season in Niigata’s Echigo Plain—weaving its way, across the centuries, indelibly into the fabric of life there. The western side fields seven teams of kite fliers while the eastern side has six. With each team making from fifteen to thirty kites, that makes for a total of 300 spectacular giant kites dancing in the skies.

One Shirone Giant Kite also achieved a Guinness world record in March of 1980 when a kite of truly epic size, measuring 14 meters across by 19 meters high, and weighing 357 kilgorams, was flown for 13 minutes 32 seconds at an altitude of 120 meters.

Commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Major Theodor Von Lerch Pennant

The man who first introduced skiing to Japan, Major Theodore von Lerch of the Austro Hungarian Empire, observed the Shirone Giant Kite Battle in June 1911. Upon witnessing it, the awestruck Major Von Lerch declared it to be “a contest embodying Japan’s ancient martial spirit, Bushido.” He then bestowed a championship pennant upon the people of Shirone, thereby beginning the champion’s pennant system that is still followed today.

As this year marks the 100th anniversary of the pennant’s bestowal, the Austrian Ambassador has been invited to attend, and a host of related events have been planned.

[Related Events] Restoration of the champion’s pennant, commemorative giant kite display, Welcome Reception for the Ambassador of Austria, commemorative giant kite battle, and the Yosakoi So Odori Dance and Shirone Odako taiko drum performance

Shirone Kite Museum
The Shirone Kite Museum is the largest kite museum on Earth, boasting rare kites from across Japan and the world. Relive the atmosphere of past kite battles in our 3D theater, build your own kites in our workshop and then test fly them in our custom-built wind tunnel. With a folklore archive available for browsing, the Shirone Kite Museum is a unique facility where you can learn and play.

Location: 1770-1 Jogesuwanoki, Minami-ku, Niigata-shi, Niigata-ken 950-1214
TEL 025-372-0314  FAX 025-372-0316

Shirone Giant Kite Battle Web sites
Niigata City Minami Ward Shirone Giant Kite Battle
http://www.city.niigata.jp/info/minami/ootako/index.html (In Japanese)

Giant Kites & Fruits in Minami Ward Shirone Tourism Association
http://www.shironekankou.jp/event/oodakogassenn.htm (In Japanese)

Inquiries
Industrial Promotion Division, Minami Ward Office, Niigata City
1235 Shirone, Minami-ku, Niigata-shi, Niigata-ken 950-1292
TEL 025-373-1000  FAX 025-371-0200
URL: http://www.city.niigata.jp/info/minami