Monday, October 12, 2009

Seal Beach Kite Festival

Last Sunday was incredibly windy. Almost too windy to fly a kite even. Which would have been a shame since it was the annual Seal Beach Kite Festival.

We braved the wind and the sand storms and went out after church. From the pier, we watched the choreographed kite dancing. Set to music, kites danced through the air, alone or in tandem, twirling, diving, spinning and doing things you never thought kites could do. I'm so glad we got to watch.

Down on the sand, the air was full kites. There were more than we could count. All of the kids loved it. There is something very magical about seeing a kite fly.

In addition to the kites, the festival celebrated other parts of Japanese culture. Like these drums. The boys enjoyed watching, and listening to the drums being played. Especially those big ones.

But the thing that stole the show, as far as James and William were concerned, were the samurais.
They spotted them right away, holding their wooden "swords" and wearing their armor.
"I want to watch them," James said immediately.

So we watched as they put on their their helmets and face masks. ( not the proper terms for these I'm sure) We watched them warm up: bouncing, jumping, stretching and yelling in unison.

Then they picked up their swords, faced one another and following the voice of their master, they began to fight.
James watched, captivated. Some of these samurai warriors were big, as tall as me, probably. But others were the same size as James. And those little ones charged right at their larger opponents.

I think it was a pretty inspiring think for a small boy to watch. Here were these other boys, no bigger than he, fighting like real warriors.

The thing I liked about it was the way this kind of fighting was elevated into something more. It wasn't just beating each other in the head for no apparent reason, like boxing. It was calm, measured and controlled. The way they moved was as graceful as dancing. At the same time, there was the chorus of shouts as each samurai went after his opponent's face, chest, head. It was a battle.

Little boys like to fight. They like to play swords. They like to be warriors. I don't think we can deny them that. And I don't think we should.

There is a part of them that wants to fly kites.
There is a part of them that wants to be a samurai.
I think they can do both.

When we left James let us know that he wanted a kite and a samurai sword.


Naomi said...

That looks like so much fun! I wish I would have known about it. I LOVE Taiko drums and we've never seen Kendo fighting anywhere. So true that it is controlled, Japan is all about honor and anyone who fights dirty loses it. There are some great Japanese Samurai movies you can watch with your boys as they get older. Here's a blog posting with a list of them I found a while ago:

Mommy of three said...

Naomi, I thought of you while we were there. Sorry I didn't tell you about it--it was a bit last minute. I will remind you about it next year.
And I knew you would be able to give me the real names for the drums and samurai fighting. Thanks!