Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Tal Spirit : Shirone, Japan 1971 to present day and beyond.

My mother and I received a very special letter last week from Shirone Japan. Back in 1971, Tal's introduction of this incredible community and their tremendous festival of Giant Kite fighting really rocked Western imaginations. It was The Art of the Japanese Kite's first chapter.

In some sense it recounts in a macro way Tal's own introduction to Japan. The train north, the except from Kawabata's Snow Country, the arrival in this tiny farming village, going to the gymnasium to see these giant things being readied, which were going to fly? It seemed impossible ! Tal wrote in extraordinary detail what it was like to encounter these mammoth O dako or "Giant" kites. His descriptions of the actual kite fighting were engrossing and unforgettable.

In the years that followed the publication of The Art of the Japanese Kite, American publications like National Geographic came to Shirone and filmed the festival, wrote articles on the kite crazy Japanese  

  So it was particularly touching when two of the   present day exponents of the Shirone Odako         made a visit to Tal, in July 2013, a year before     his passing. While he was greatly depleted of       physical energy , he was very moved. Kazama Masao, one of the Odako Master kitemakers      and Endo Hiromi head of the Shirone Odako      Museum reignited his memories of those first  experiences with these spectacular kites.

When Mr Endo, today's present director of the Shirone  heard of Tal's passing, he wrote offering his condolences. And this past month he sent us another message saying that Tal had "put Shirone on the map. Had introduced the Odako far beyond the island of Japan and for this, the town was eternally grateful and they were dedicating this years 2015 Odako Calender to Tal's spirit.
Tal ended the chapter on Shirone with these words : "The sight of the Shirone Kites hanging in the afternoon sky is indescribably beautiful. Their combat is exciting and their death poignant. For me, and for many others, the festival need not ever end."    


Lissa, looking out on a light snowfall in Santa Fe New Mexico
December 2014. 


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