Camp Zama Community Members Get Crafty By Making Traditional Japanese Kites | Item
SAGAMIHARA FAMILY HOUSING AREA, Japan – “Collaboration is the key to making and flying a giant kite successfully,” a representative from the Sagami Giant Kite Preservation Association told a group of Camp Zama community members on April 2.
With this philosophy in mind, the group began the collaborative effort to build their own traditional Japanese kites at an event hosted by the Camp Zama Arts and Crafts Center at the School Age Center here.
Jane Dalton, 13, one of the participants in the event, said she really enjoyed the process of making the kite, which included building the frame from bamboo sticks, gluing paper traditional Japanese on the frame, decorating the paper and attaching a string.
Tying the string to the kite using an intricate knot was difficult, Dalton said, but SGKPA representatives were there to help him and the other participants every step of the way.
“The people who helped us were really nice,” Dalton said.
Colonel Christopher L. Tomlinson, the commander of the U.S. Army Garrison in Japan, who escorted Sagamihara City Mayor Kentaro Motomura, was there to observe the event.
Camp Zama has been part of the SGKPA kite-making tradition since 2006. Members of the organization visit the facility each year to cut and pick bamboo for the kite they build for their annual festival giant kite.
Although the event has been canceled in recent years due to COVID-19, it gives members of the Camp Zama community the opportunity to learn about the culture of Japan and the local traditions of the city of Sagamihara. , said Tomlinson.
Tomlinson said the collaboration event with the SGKPA allowed the two groups to continue a great tradition and exchange each other’s culture.
“It’s absolutely a great opportunity to teach about Japanese culture [to our community members]”Tomlinson said. “Being part of this great community…that’s what we’re here for.”
Motomura said he was extremely grateful that SGKPA could share the traditional culture of kite making and kite flying with the Camp Zama community. The mayor said he and Tomlinson are very much in favor of collaborative events such as the kite-making workshop continuing, as they enable face-to-face community engagement and help build the city’s friendship with Camp Zama.
“By sharing our traditions and culture together, it’s a great community-building effort,” Motomura said.
Once the group had built their kites, participants and SGKPA members came out to fly their creations. Dalton said her goal was to try and get her kite to stay in the air for as long as she could and get it higher than her sister’s kite.
The group also worked together to fly a 1.8 square meter kite inscribed with the Japanese “kanji” character “taishi”, which means “ambition”. The character was written in red, representing the sun, and in green, representing the earth.
As the kite picked up the wind and soared through the air, attendees cheered and cheered at the sight.