Tobyhanna
Adventures in Ancient Japan

Tobyhanna is a reader and an explorer, as most youngsters are. On his many library visits, he was reading a book about kites when Miss Marian, the librarian, told him about kite flying in Japan. Curious, Tobyhanna read some more…..

Starting from well over 400 years ago, there were giant kite flying festivals in Japan. The first is said to have been held in Hamamatsu to celebrate the birth of the local ruler's son. More than 50 kites were brought to this occasion with some measuring up to 12 feet in height. Since then festivals have begun in other areas, such as Ikazaki where as many as 1000 kites can be seen in the air at one time and in Yokaichi where records for the largest kite (about 60 feet X 60 feet) and longest flight time (2 hours) were established. Their annual festival is held in May, and the World Kite Museum is located here.

Tobyhanna comes from a coal mining region in Pennsylvania. One day he found a strange nugget that glowed like a diamond. But a strange thing happened whenever he rubbed it - he was transported to a different time and place. This time…..

An estimated two million visitors attend the Hamamatsu festival each year. In our story, one more visitor will suddenly appear. Tobyhanna arrives just in time to help a local girl, Hiroko, who befriends him, and the villagers, whose giant kite was destroyed a few days before the contest. The time is in the 1860s - about 10 years since Admiral Perry arrived in Japan to establish US-Japanese relations. Hiroko has had the opportunity to learn English words. They will both learn about each other's countries, and together they will find a way to help the villagers to compete in that year's contest.

See the lavish costumes, hear the taiko drums, absorb some new language words and witness some of the pageantry that goes into a Japanese festival. Tobyhanna does, and he gains a new appreciation for what he has only read about in books.