February 26 2007
A 10 Hour Layover

Flying home from Guam, we were daunted by the prospect of a ten hour lay-over in Osaka, Japan. What do you do in an airport for ten hours?? The Duty Free Shops all look alike, the internet services are expensive, and the chairs are hard. Last year we tried to rent one of those little “sleeping rooms” but there were all reserved. Someone was better prepared than we were!

Nakai and Masaru

So this year, we prepared better!

What do you do on a ten-hour lay-over?? If you are a kite flier, you email other kite fliers and spend some brief but quality time together. And that’s what we did with our “tomodachi” (friends) from Team Kamakaze.

February is usually cold in Japan, but Nakai and Masaru were there at customs waiting with a warm car and a warmer smile. A beaming clear blue sky glowed in the early morning as we drove across the city.

Our destination was historic Osaka Castle and the acres of parks surrounding it. The huge structure has seven levels, each presenting displays, materials and artifacts from the Castle’s 500 year history. There was even a chance to dress up as Samurai and Geisha. But we’ll keep those photos private.

Osaka Castle Osaka Castle Osaka Castle Osaka Castle

Japan is a wonderful country filled with warm and gracious people. We’re privileged to have many friends there and to have visited numerous times. Next year we’re contemplating organizing a tour to one of their great kite events.

Kingfisher!

In the classic gardens, we found a group of photographers gathered at the edge of a small lake. They each had tripods set with cameras equipped with enormous lenses. What were they watching for? A few words were exchanged in Japanese and then everyone began paging though their translation dictionaries. “Kingfisher!” One grinning photographer than presented us with several gift pictures.

Our new friend guided us to the far side of the water. In halting English, he explained that this was the best location for a “couples photo”.

Nakai and Masaru dropped us back at Kansai International Airport after lunch. It was a treat to breeze through customs with no baggage. And we were pleased to get a frequent-flier upgrade for the long flight back to the States.

After take-off, I eased the seat back and drifted into a deep airborne sleep.

Susie told me later the flight attendant had asked what I took to sleep so well. She contemplated long flights, early mornings up doing email, long (but good) days on the kite field, and late nights out with friends. “Simple exhaustion”, Susie answered.

Best Photo Place

Next weekend, we’re off to Austin, Texas, for another festival at Zilker Park. Hope to see some of you there! Meanwhile, to team Kamakazi, a big “Arigato gozimas tomodachi. Mata ei mashow!” Thank you my friends! See you again soon!”

Flying Star Airplane Kite Blue Meanie Blue Meanie

European Inflatables!

Here are four great soft kites that deserve a lot more attention then they’ve been getting. Each is big, interesting, and unique. And for the first two weeks of March, each is on sale too!

Choose the Owl or Star from Rolf Zimmerman, the Airplane by Rolf Sturm, or the flying Elephant by the Gonzalez Brothers. Each are detailed on our Soft Kite Pages and each is 20% off through March 15.

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