One hundred thirty miles southwest of Tokyo, Japan, in the city of Hamamatsu, men fight with kites every year during three days in early May.
The combat began many centuries ago, when the ruler of the region celebrated the birth of his first son by flying kites. Two million people a year come to see the Battle of the Kites, as team fights team, each determined to knock the other’s kite out of the sky.
The kites are big and colorful, ten feet square and painted with the colors of a neighborhood, some with the names of newborn sons added to the decorations.
Attached to each kite is a web of ropes that hold it aloft and that are used to try to fray, tear, and weaken the ropes that hold an opponent’s kite.
Victory or defeat brings so much excitement that special guards are on duty to prevent fistfights and to keep people from being trampled.
The kite fight festival in Hamamatsu is also known as Takoage Gassen.