One of Ryukyu's famous toys, the 'hariko', known as the bringer of good luck, is sold at the toy bazaar held on the day of the Yukkanuhi (the fourth day of the fifth month on the lunar calendar).
The skills for crafting the hariko were brought here from Japan after the 17th century. The original target for the hariko were children from upper-class families. By the Meiji period, though, the hariko had become a popular and affordable toy for the average child.
Okinawan hariko were influenced by the Ryukyu Kingdom, continental China, and by their own inland cultures. These multiple influences fused in the distinctive shapes and rich colors of the hariko.
Other Ryukyu toys, such as pinwheels made from the leaf of Adan, puppets made from the nut of the Sago palm, and butterfly-shaped kites also show the same subtle charm combined with various influences.
Over the times, plastic and tin toys replaced the popularity of the Ryukyu toys, though each toy still shows expression and tender warmness and is appreciated by many people
Many kite-flying activities take place during the Yokaichi Giant Kite Festival. The Yokaichi giant kite is designated as an intangible folk cultural asset.
Yokaichi giant kite-flying started 300 years ago in the mid-Edo period. Kites were flown to celebrate the birth of a boy. For this reason, kite-flying is similar to the display of koinobori on Boy's Day, an important event in Japan. Nowadays, over 100 kites are flown, and they are even flown to celebrate a young person's coming of age.
Yokaichi giant kites are designed with 'hanjimon otako', which features pictures of fishes and birds in the upper section with words written in red to illustrate meanings. This kite, in a sense, is rare because it has cut-out sections that help to diminish resistance from wind. Flying these giant kites involves balancing the strength of the strings with the size of the kite.
The Yokaichi Giant Kite Festival is held annually on the 4th Sunday of May in Aichi-gawa.
Kite flying has become one of the plays of the New Year’s holidays since the late Edo period, when a kite with Kabuki actor’s image or famous wartime warrior’s image painted on it was considered to have a magical power or bring good luck. The appeal of kite flying lies in how to control a kite, taking the length and tension of the string and the wind direction into consideration. Besides the competition for the height of flying, there are also several kinds of kite fighting games called tako-gassen or kenka-dako. In the kite fighting, you will contrive the ways to keep flying your kite longer than others by crashing it to or cutting off the string of the competing kites. Many kite flying contests in design and display are held all over the country.
In the past, one would see many children playing with kites during their winter vacation and Shogatsu, the new year celebration. Now, the winter element seems to have been forgotten. A recent revival of trends from the mid Showa period around the 1960’s, are causing some adults to playts to play again with kites.Edo Kite Craft Workers is an expert group specializing in Edo Kites; they compose kites carefully using traditional knowledge and technique.
'Edo-kite' is a traditional kite in Tokyo and began in the Edo period and generally it refers to a rectangular shaped kite, with long 'buzz' on the top and long strings. The pictures on the kites vary and include those from Samurai and Kabuki to cool Edo letters including with beard decorations. In addition, they have started composing cool shape 'Yakko-kite' imitating Yakko, a servant of Samurai family.
'Edo-kite' is a Japanese cultural artifact inherited from the Edo period and is a valuable living artifact of the Edo period.
Sanjo-style Rokkaku-maki-dako kite which translates as “kite which rolls itself” is a traditional handicraft of Sanjo district in Echigo region, Niigata Pref. It has a history of 150 years since the late Edo period. The kite was originally used as a substitute for smoke signals, then it is said that it was improved to roll itself so easy to carry. The kite are all covered with portraits of warriors and of heroes from Japanese legends. Rokkaku kite is made of three bamboo spars (one is the spine or the longest spar and 2 cross spars), twine, washi-paper, dyestuff and glue. In order to roll it to carry, you simply detach the vertical bamboo spar. The making of the kite is all by manual procedures. First the bamboo for spars are heated to straighten up, then adjusted so that they have the same length and girth, nodes are scraped off, dried, and finally images are painted on it, which alone of course takes quite a bit of time. Now there are only two-kite manufacturer in Sanjo. In June, which is believed to be a month of “men”, the traditional event of the kite fighting is held, when craftsmen’s prayers fly around the great arch of the sky.