This festival has roughly 300 years of history, dating back to the Edo period. A large river called Shinanogawa runs through the Echigo plains here, feeding off to the local Nakanokuchi river, whose banks are the launching grounds for these giant 5 by 7 meter kites. In the sky above, you will witness a battles, where kites are entangled and then pulled on from each side until the opposition's strings snap.
Legend has it, that during mid Edo period, while the locals were celebrating the completed construction of the Nakanokuchi River dikes, one local on the Shirone side of the river raised a kite that happened to fall onto the West Shirone side of the river, damaging another local's garden. The West Shirone local retaliated by crashing a kite back. This fued gave birth to the festival we see today.
The kites are made to rise up towards the opposing kites on the other side of the river. Changes and improvements have been made over many years that connect their ancestors traditions and skills to present day.
Viewers are also able to take part in the ensuing tug-o-war battle. Experience the power as you fly the giant kites to the clouds!
The sight of these giant 5 by 7 meter kites soaring through the sky is empowering. You can feel the spirit and determination the locals have for these giant creatures, as representative pilots from each community bravely fly them above the river banks. Whether the kite strings get entangled with the opposing kites and battles commence or not, depends on things such as wind conditions. Another thing to pay attention to here is the beautiful and powerful designs of the kites.
When the strings get entangled between two kites and they fall into the river, this marks the start of the tug-o-war. The battlers make use of the flowing waters to further tangle the strings and bring the whole thing over to the battle stations. The strings are extended into the far reaches of town and everyone pulls at once hoping the opponent's strings snap first. More than winning or losing, it is the feeling of accomplishment shared with other locals that is real attractiveness to this festival. Get a real taste of the festival by taking part in the battle.
Here on the festival grounds, different attractions are held to increase the enjoyment of the Shirone Kite tradition.
There are Mikoshi(portable shrines), stage performances, food and drink corners, dances and more.
©Shirone Ootako Gassen
Designated off limit areas include sections for falling kites and pilots at work
Access to Niigata City
JR Joetsu Shinkansen, JR Shin-Etsu Line, Niigata Station
[Nearest Bus Station]
Line: Ono/Shirone Line
Shirone Elementary School Mae Stop (provisional stop during festival dates)
Venue Address: Shirone and Nishi Shirone, Minami Ward, Niigata City
When taking the bus
(Roughly a 1hr 40min bus ride from Niigata Station )
1. Take the B1 on the Bandaibashi Line from Niigata Station Mae Stop. Get off at Aoyama. Transfer here.
2. Take the W7 on the Ono/Shirone Line from Aoyama to Shirone Elementary School Mae. Get off here. (This stop is a provisional stop prepared for festival dates only). Walk to the festival grounds from here.
3. It is a 5min walk to the festival grounds.