While windy March is considered the prime time for kite flying in many Western countries, January is the traditional season in Japan. Three kite flying events are scheduled for late January in the souther Ibaraki area within easy driving distance from Tsukuba. These include very large kites taking many people to control, and if the weather is good, they are quite a sight to see.
Toride Tone River Kite Festival
Saturday, January 13th at the Toride Ryokuchi Undo Koen, located along the banks of the Tone River. If traveling by car, you will need to approach the park by crossing over the Joban tracks from Highway 6. By train, it's a 5 min. walk from the East Gate of Toride Station. Contact number: 0297-74-2141.
Another festival worth seeing that is also in Toride is the Tonegawa Dondo Matsuri, which centers around the burning in a giant bonfire the various New Year's decorations (such as "kadomatstu", the bamboo and pine branch decorations used to welcome the New Year) on Jan. 15 at 5 pm. In the coals of the bonfire, people roast senbei (and perhaps even marshmallows these days) on long sticks. For further info, call 0297-74-2141.
Oyako Kite Festival
Sunday, January 21st at the Otone Undo Koen. Contact number 0297-45-1111.
Shinshun Kokai River Kite Festival
Sunday, January 28th at the Fuminari Bashi Grounds. From the Yatabe Interchange on the Joban expressway, continue on to the center of Ina Machi. Turn right at the T-intersection and follow that road (route 19) on towards Toride. The grounds are located where that road crosses the Kokai River. Contact number 0297-58-2111.
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