Traditional Japanese-Style Rokkakus
in ripstop sailcloth and fiberglass frames

Back in 1994, we commissioned a series of very special rokkakus based on a series of traditional Japanese kite images. I selected the graphics from history, literature, and folklore. But more importantly, I chose illustrations typically used on rokkakus. A limited number of kites were sold for $500 each. They are still the most visual and appealing roks I've ever seen.

When GKPI started making sticked kites, we decided to include this stunning series of "Kabuki Rokkakus". They aren't made for fighting. Instead, these steady fliers are made for show, for personal satisfaction, and for fun. Each kite is four feet tall and sells for $90.

Rok Show

Colors are brilliant, details are stunning, and craftsmanship is superb. We're also providing some background information with each kite, written for us by Makoto Ohashi.

Wave

TUKINAMI: Tuki means "push" and nami means "wave". This popular illustration shows the water splashing before the sun.

There are many images in Japanese culture which have a strong relationship to the sun. The Shinto religion is based on the Sun God, Amanoterasu. The Japanese flag represents the rising sun.

These images show the Japanese indigenous reverence toward the sun.

Watonai

WATONAI: Watonai is the hero of a famous Joruri or puppet play which was popular in the Edo period.

When Manchuria conquered China in the 17th Century, he led a revolt and later founded a new dynasty on Taiwan.

Although this story concerns foreign history, it is popular in Japan because Watonai was of mixed Japanese and Chinese parentage.

Suke Roku

SUKEROKU: Sukeroku is a famous Kabuki hero who challenged the rich upper classes and was very popular with the common people -- especially women.

Kabuki plays were developed during the middle Edo period of history. Japan was ruled by a warrior or Samurai class, and less privileged classes often wrote plays representing criticism or irony of the unfair class system.

Koi

KOI: The Carp is the most popular fish in Japan because of its gorgeous, magnificent, and colorful style. In Japanese culture, the Koi represents strength, courage and success in life.

On Children's Day in May, Carp windsocks are flown from each home. This is because parents wish success for their children's lives in the future.

OTAKA: Gengo Otaka is one of the famous forty-six loyal retainers of Lord Naganari Asano.

During a visit to the Shogun's castle in 1701, Lord Asano was insulted by Yoshinaka Kira. Asano rushed Kira with a drawn sword. As a result, the Shogun ordered Asano to kill himself. Kira, who had begun the incident, received no punishment.

Otaka

After the death of Asano, his retainers became masterless samurai. They took an oath of revenge even though acts of vengeance were unconditionally punished by death. The next year, the retainers assassinated Kira. Then all forty-six took their own lives.

Although the Edo authorities criticized them, the public generally praised the forty-six loyal retainers for their faithful behavior toward their master.

Benkei

BENKEI: Benkei Musashibou decided to collect a treasure of one thousand swords. Every night, he went to the center of the major bridge in Kyoto and robbed people of their swords. However, when he had collected 999 swords, he met Yoshitsune, who had the greatest sword in Japan.

Benkei fought Yoshitsune and was defeated. Realizing that he had met a man stronger than himself, Benkei decided to reform and became one of Yoshitsune's retainers.

Later, when Yoshitsune was surrounded by enemies, Benkei protected his master with his own body. He was struck by many arrows but died standing and facing his enemy. Benkei thus became popular for his bravery, and for his faithfulness to his master Yoshitsune.

Gorou

GOROU: (no longer available)

Gorou Suga is a legendary character from the folk tale "Suga Kyoudai", the Suga Brothers, which was based on historical events of the 12th Century.

While he was a young boy, Gorou's father was assassinated by his foe, Suketsuke Kudou. Gouro and his brother Jyuro promised to avenge this act when they grew older.

After several attempts, Gorou and Jyuro were successful. Jyuro was killed during the fight, and Gorou was captured by the Shogun's authorities. The Shogun offered to pardon him, but Gorou had no desire to survive the death of his brother. He was then executed by the son of Kudou.

The Japanese people sympathized with Gorou for his tragic life and praised his great loyalty to his family.

KENSHIN: (no longer available) Kenshin Uesusi(1530-1578) was one of the great warriors in the history of Japan. He was well respected for both his bravery and his character.

Kenshin

For example, during the battle of Kawanakajima, the mounted Kenshin single-handedly attacked the forces of his enemy, Shingen Takeda, without the support of any retainers. He succeeded in cutting his way through to Shingen by himself.

Later, when Shingen's region suffered from a lack of salt because of an economic blockade by other lords, Kenshin sent his enemy a large amount of salt. Kenshin insisted it was unfair to destroy Shingen without a fair fight.

Kenshin and Shingen respected each other as worthy advisaries. Many Japanese have learned from Kenshin how to behave honorably toward rivals.

Each kite is fully appliquéd with zig-zag stitching used to secure overlapping fabric-to fabric. Details are boldly highlighted. Spars are attached with ribbon-ties. Edge-binding is used to provide extra detailing. Fly them or create a display.

Applique Ribbon Tie Detailing

For select exhibits, we have a special set of seven foot kites available for two week rentals for $250. Additional weeks are $50 each. This is intended for indoor applications only.


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