February 11
Fresh Kites from Toki San

It was great to see our good friend, Mikio Toki in Madison. We finished out the festival buying him a few beers and putting him on a plane for Tokyo. But not before taking delivery of a nice pile of kites he brought over for us!

Toki at Work

Toki is, of course, the premier Edo kitemaker of his generation. We offer a series of his exquisite pieces in the KiteMaster's Guild for $60 each. But we saved a bit on shipping this time so we're willing to pass the savings on to you regular Update readers.

While they last, we'll sell you Toki Edos at two for $90.

The finished size, with spars and bridle, is 15 x 21 inches. Colors are stunning. Click on the image for a larger view. But please note that in these photos, the kites are still wrapped in cellophane...

Watonai Wave Daruma Suke Roku Yoshitune

For more information on the stories behind these designs, visit our Japanese Kite Art pages.

  • Watonai: fierce Samurai warrior.
  • Wave: traditional Japanese scene
  • Daruma: traditional monk design with illuminated eyes
  • Suke Roku: traditional Kabuki hero
  • Yoshitune: traditional Edo folk tale
  • Meanwhile, we're cleaning out the closet and have decided to part with a set of small Tsugaru Kites we picked up on our first trip to Tokyo. They are about 12 inches tall and sticked in cypress wood rather than bamboo. Each kite has a paper hummer attached. You can fly them or you can frame them. We'll sell the set of three for $100.

    Tsugaru Kites

    Here is a quick primer on Japanese kites. Many people refer to all of them as "Edos" and that is wrong. Each area of Japan has their own traditional style of kite -- defined by the shape, materials, and framing pattern. An "Edo" is the kite traditionally made in Tokyo (formerly known as Edo).

    "Kites" in general are called "dako". So a "Tokyo Kite" would be an "Edo Dako".

    Most (but not all) Japanese kites are flat and rectangular. A kite with corners is called a "kaku". So if you know that the Japanese word for "six" is "rok" then you know that a hexagonal shaped kite (one with six corners) is called a "rok-kaku"...

    And if that all seems a bit confusing and complex, consider how much more complicated it is here where we have flat kites, box kites, inflatable kites, stunt kites, figure kites, and many others...

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