The ground next to the EZCC office was bubbling with life, what with schoolchildren running about trying to launch their kites in the air. All the kites were white and on them were sketched pictures of a dragon or a Sumo wrestler. Guiding them were five kite-flying experts from Japan.
“Kya ajeeb kites hai,” exclaimed Ankit Pitti of CE Block, as the kite failed to take off one more time. The kites, unlike the Indian ones, were tied to the string by a single knot in the middle, the paper was thinner and the string that flew them was thicker.
Among the dozens of boys and girls, the one who fared the best was Agnish Bishwas, a Class IX student of Apeejay School, Salt Lake. His kite, bearing a Japanese alphabet, flew the highest. “I fly kites regularly with my father at our CJ Block home,” he smiled, pointing out that the alphabet stood for the Japanese word for kite.
After a couple of hours of fun, the children carefully packed their kites and took them home. “We did the sketches ourselves,” Rishav Ranjan of GB Block beamed.
The kites were the products of a workshop for the children that the experts — Shigeki Endoh, Sachiko Modegi, Masaaki Modegi, Masatoshi Hayashizaki and Toshio Masago —conducted the day before at Bharatiyam, jointly organised by the consulate-general of Japan, Japan Foundation and Crafts Council of West Bengal.
“This Vishwakarma puja, I will tie a kite the Japanese way and try to fly it,” said Agnish on his way out.
“Back home, I teach 3,000 kids every year how to fly kites. It is also important that they make the kites themselves,” smiled Shigeki Endoh, president of the Sendai Kite Club and the only English-speaking member of the quintet (in picture above).
Picture by Pabitra Das
The popular name for a Japanese kite is tako, thought to be a play on Tokyo where kites are very popular. The Japanese even have a word in their vocabulary — tako-kichi, which means “kite-crazy”. There are about 130 types of kites in Japan, each region having its unique shape.