Imagine gathering 100 of your neighbors, tying lines onto a small pickup truck, and hoisting it into the sky. It sounds like an impossible feat, but every year in Golden Week, residents of Kasukabe City celebrate the holiday by flying giant, and heavy, kites over the Edo River.
The giant kites featured in the festival take months to construct from bamboo and paper. The two largest kites are each 15 m tall and 11 m wide. That's equivalent to 100 tatami mats. They each weigh 800 kg, about the same weight as a small car. The small kites are 15 m tall and they weigh 150 kg.
The festival, which started in the Edo Period, began as an agricultural festival and later transformed into a celebration of Children's Day, May 5. On the riverbank, you will see teams of 100 people heaving on the lines to raise each kite. It's a startling sight to see tiny elementary school students lift a kite many times taller than they are.
A shuttle bus from the west exit of Minamisakurai Station on the Tobu Urban Park Line runs from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. One way fare is ¥200. Elementary school students ride for free.
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You will see many of my stories on Japan Travel are about places and events outside of big city centers and tourist destinations. While I highly recommend the big name sights and experiences, I encourage visitors to see and feel the atmosphere off the beaten path, too.