Hata making- with Mr. Kuwata
|You start by tying the cross spar to the spine so it is tight and won’t move. The cross spar is mounted so the skin side of the bamboo faces the tail of the kite. This is most unusual. Then using a special board that has pegs for the different size hatas, you tie hemp line on one end of the cross spar. Holding the spine along the pegboard, you then set the length of the line that pulls the cross spar to the correct tension. The line is tied to the spine by locking it into the tiny kerf and then looped around to go up to the second end of the cross spar.|
|Mr. Ogawa testing a kite spar.|
|Again the frame is set on the pegboard and
lined up so the tension is set on the cross spar to a set amount, and the
line tied off, but the end left on the line. It is then wrapped 3 times
around the cross spar and set in about an inch and a half, where it
continues to the top of the spine. It is wrapped around and then the line
continues to the initial side of the spine. Here it is wrapped 5 times and
tied so it is again about 1.5 inches in from the tip of the cross
|Mr. Kuwata checked to make sure the frame
had equal tension. The top was made equal by simply centering the spine
between the two lines. The bottom was off by a bit as measured with a set
measuring stick for the #16 kite. He adjusted it by tying another loop on
the spine to shorten the long side. Once it was OK, the frame is completed
and the skin can be attached.
The frame is laid on the paper by first smearing the glue/paste mix onto the skin surface of the spine. The spine is pressed carefully onto the paper. Lines are made with a bamboo tool about 1.5 cm from the outside of the hemp line surrounding the frame.
|The paper is then cut to this outline.
Notches are made at the top and bottom of the spine and at the two sides
of the cross spar so the paper fits perfectly once glued around the
string. Next a crease is made with the bamboo edging tool for folding the
paper after the glue is applied. The top cut out is folded back at the tip
of the spine so no glue gets on it. Glue is applied to the first edge from
the tip of the spine to the first cross spar end. The paper is carefully
wrapped around the spar where it joins the line and is tucked around. The
glue is applied to the line and cross spar where the paper overlaps
The paper is pressed firmly along the line with the same bamboo tool that was used to make the creases. The cutout on the bottom of the spine is folded back same as for the top of the spine. Next glue is applied along the edge from the cross spar to the bottom of the spine, and again making sure it covers the line. The paper is folded over the line and pressed down as before. The paper is firmly pressed again using the bamboo tool to make sure the paper is tight against the line.
The process is repeated for the other two sides.
|Jennifer made a Frog Paw Hata, our first Dancing Frog hata kite|
|The kite is set aside to dry before
bridling and flying.
We inquired about the length of the bridles; for a number 20 kite, the length of the bridle was about 8-8.5 times the length of the spine. It is a very long bridle. Hemp line is used. The adjustment for the tow point on such a long bridle is set in an interesting way. The bridles are attached at the cross spar and the bottom of the kite. A point is marked on the bridle line from the top point at the cross spars to the bottom of the kite on the upper part of the bridle. On the other end of the bridle a point is measured from the bottom attachment at the bottom of the kite to a point that is above the cross spars, 1/3 of the distance between the cross spar and the top of the kite. Holding the two marks together, the lines are held together to the end. The tow point is tied here by a loop.
|For flying the kites, hemp
line is used that is heavier than the manjha used with Indian fighting
kites. The hemp line is treated with persimmon juice which stiffens it and
colors it dark purple. The line is waxed for smoothness. Fighting line is
simply gathered into a basked. Wicker baskets lined with molded paper is
the traditional way to hold the line. Plastic baskets with or without
paper are often used. Two strings on the basked are used to tie it around
the waist, so the basket hangs out in front of the kite flyer. This is the
same line and basket arrangement used in the tehara fighting kites. The
persimmon juice used on the lines, is the same idea as Mikio Toki
indicated for the bridle lines of Edo kites. Since Toki now uses a
combination of 70% water and 30% wood glue, I imagine this too can be used
on the fighting line.
In true hata fighting glass line is used for the cutting line. Unlike the glass manjha of India, the glass line in Japan is coarse and thick. You would not be able to use your hands on this line at all, so the Japanese only have the glass line on part of the flying line, and handle the part that does not have glass on it.
|A demonstration of hata flying skill was
performed at the festival. In one event, pairs of helium balloons were
released and the hata fighters had to catch them on their line. Special
bamboo catches were tied into the line to catch the balloon pairs. Skill
is based on the ability to catch the balloon pairs before they got