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Traditional kites of Japan
The city of Edo (now known as Tokyo), and Japan in general, have many popular pastimes. Kite flying is one of them and a very distinctive form of kite that dates back to the 18th Century is the Edo kite. It remains largely unchanged with its rectangular bamboo frame covered in decorated washi paper, however, the use has changed from symbolic offerings of thanks in Buddhist religious practices to social use.
Present day, these kites fly high to welcome the coming of spring and special occasions, such as Children's Day. As such, they are striking in colour and often take inspiration from ukiyo-e (a genre of Japanese art) with bold and vibrant motifs produced on the kites, featuring subjects that include symbols, female beauties, kabuki actors and legendary heroes.
Aside from being a symbol of celebration, the kites are also a form of folk-toy with each distinct style representative of life and locality throughout various regions of Japan. They could easily make for great travel advertisements.
Kite expert Mikio Toki specialises in the Edo kite, frequently travelling the world and spreading his knowledge on the craft to preserve it and pass it on to future generations, and is now bringing to Sydney a selection of 32 flying works of art of various designs for you to marvel over.
This first-ever Australian exhibition (with free entry) will see his intricately-made kites on display at The Japan Foundation Gallery in the 'living' Central Park Mall of Chippendale for 3 months, from 10 July to 12 October, 6 days per week. The opening ceremony on day 1 will include a talk and demonstration by Mikio at 6.30pm that will surely have you wanting to create an Edo kite of your own.
The good thing is children will get to do just that with two workshops scheduled for 11 July. The step-by-step classes with master Mikio are best suited to school aged children of 8-10years old. Children under 7years will require the assistance of a parent or guardian. Sessions are from 9am-11am and 1pm-3pm. After each session, join Mikio and class companions to head outside and enjoy your new kite flying in the sky from Chippendale Green, behind the mall. The cost per child is $15. Parents assisting are free. Bookings are essential and can be made through Eventbrite.
A series of other workshops and public programs will also coincide with the exhibition. These will be announced soon. You can keep up to date via the foundation's website or through their Facebook page.