Kites and Kumade
凧 - 熊手
To celebrate the beginning of 2019 Japan House London has a display of objects to signify good fortune for the year ahead.
In Japan, kites are most commonly associated with festivals and especially the New Year celebrations. They are often decorated with heroes from Japanese legends or auspicious symbols and words such as those for the animal from the 12-year zodiacal cycle representing the new year to come.
The images on these kites are first printed onto paper and hand painted before being fixed to a bamboo frame. Found in a variety of shapes and sizes, some of the most popular are the yakko, in the shape of a samurai attendant, and cranes to signify good fortune and longevity.
Kumade (literally ‘bear’s paw’) are decorated bamboo rakes displayed to protect the family and encourage the ‘raking in’ of success and happiness for the coming year. They are loaded with symbols of good luck and prosperity including the Seven Lucky Gods (Shichi Fukujin), cranes and turtles for longevity, bails of rice, gold coins, a Kyogen theatre mask of the joyful Otafuku, the auspicious combination of pine, bamboo and plum blossoms and a Daruma doll.
Kumade are sold all over Japan at the festivals called Tori-no-Ichi at the end of the year.