May 8
Quick Trip to Japan

So I get home from China on a Friday and fly out to Japan on Monday. Land in Tokyo in the late afternoon, join the rest of the group, fly off to Kanazawa in the morning, have a welcome party that night, do the festival the following day, fly back to Tokyo the next morning, do a farewell party, and then come home on Friday.

I was back before my Monday shipments of Chinese Dragons made it to the east coast...

I made the Paper

The purpose of my trip was the annual gathering of the Japan Kite Association in Uchinada. International guests this year included Martin Lester, Art Ross, Marc Ricketts, Tom Castelman, and myself. Here's a picture of the welcome party, taken from the stage. That's Tom in the lower left, looking like a deer in the headlights...

Welcome Party

The welcome party is a HUGE affair with speeches by the mayor, traditional opening of the sake cask, introduction of guests, entertainment, and an auction. (Unlike AKA, the auction goes very quickly.) Food and plenty of drinks are spread across tables and we wander around greeting old friends and meeting new ones.

Kite Dancers Being Interviewed Organizing Committee

At nine the next morning, we head for the kite field.

I plant some of our new sand anchors , launch an Octopus, and then am called to the stage to make a speech in the opening ceremonies. I use all five Japanese words I know and they translate the rest...

Opening Ceremonies

Wonderful Japanese kites are being assembled, displayed, and flown everywhere.

Japanese Kites Japanese Kites

Japanese Kites Japanese Kites Japanese Kites

After nine trips to Uchinada, you get to know some of the folks. Here's a few pictures of my "tomodachi" (friends).

Kite Girls Fan Club Taiko Group

You're probably wondering about the picture in the middle. Ten years ago at the First Japan Cup in Odawara, some friends made up these shirts as a joke. I was *stunned* this week to find someone on the field wearing one. Better yet, it was autographed -- by me -- in 1991. This guy was about eleven back then! I promptly autographed it for him again.

Another group of friends are the tiako drummers who this year invited me to play with them. Wow! Click here to see a short movie #1 or movie #2 of the drummers in action.

One of the fun parts about Uchinada is having lunch on the field. Tents line the flying area and each club puts together their own picnic.

Some make stew, some bar-be-que, some eat sushi -- and all drink beer and sake. Guests like us are invited to join every table we pass.

Field Lunch

Here is a shot of my big octopus. Notice anything else in the picture??

"Lady G-Diver" is a special kite by Martin Lester. Only two will ever be made and I now have one of them for sale. She is the same size as the standard Scuba Diver , but of course, is wearing a bikini instead of a wetsuit.

This is the only G-Diver that will be in the USA. (The other is in Europe.) Martin was asking $600. We can sell you this one for $500. Or for extra fun, buy a Scuba Man too, and we'll take another $50 off...

Octopus and Diver

A BIG thank you to my good friend, Modegi San for making this trip possible.

(Always thank people by publishing terrible pictures of them...)

Next week, we'll be announcing some new products. On the 18th, Susie and I head for Grand Haven (Michigan). A week later, I'll be in Wildwood (New Jersey).

See all of you out there soon!

Masaaki Modegi

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