Sukeroku Kite

Here's some more information on this kite. It was bought from a bookshop in London, they also had some paper kites on display. The kite measures 46 by 52 cm and is close in proportion to the standard Rokkaku, the main differences being that it has two extra spars connected between the ends of the top and bottom spreaders making an 'X', and the bridle is of the three-legged persuasion.

As with most commercial japanese kites that I've come across, the quality of the printing is good, everything is nicely stuck down, but the finish on the spars is a bit rough. What I mean by that is the bamboo hasn't been chosen for it's knot-free quality, or balance. The other big problem is the bridle/bowing system. Why do they use that thick thread? There's also the problem of tying off the bowing without having lots of loops of string hanging down one side of the kite. I wonder if these kites really belong in the 'artistic' category rather than the 'flying' one.....


Simon Oliverkindly sent me this information:

The two characters written in kanji on the kite are 'suke-roku', the name of the main character of a famous Kabuki play, the formal title of which is 'Sukeroku Yukarino Edo-zakura'. This literally means The Cherry Blossom of Edo City, related to our hero, Sukeroku . He appears as a type of relaxed, party type of handsome young man, the lover of the great prostitute in the city of Yoshiwara, the authorized prostitute town.

People call him 'Hanakawado no Sukeroku', or Sukeroku from Hanakawado city. Hanakawado is the name of a place near Asakusa, Edo (now Tokyo). This young hero is actually one of the two brothers who have been looking for their father's murderer. His real name is Goro Tokimune, and the revenge story of him and his older brother Juro is one of the themes which is still very popular with all Kabuki play lovers now.

To find the sword of his father, he has to hang around Yoshiwara, one of the most prosperous "red light", or "entertainment" districts. Because he is the hero of the time, his fashion and attitude are really cool and remarkable. We can see a typical cool young Edo chap in Sukeroku. It is such fun to see all those fantastic costumes and also comical acts and the colourful story of this Kabuki play. I reckon this is the one of the best plays I can recommend to anyone.

If you are interested in Kabuki, there is a Kabuki page in English which can be found at

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.

The image above was originally taken from a b&w line drawing of a kite pin which I enlarged and coloured with reference to my kite, and added the orange 'banner' at the top right which wasn't present on the pin image. You can see the current colour pin image, and information on other kabuki kites at David Gomberg's Kite Pin Hotline.

John Staplehurst updated: 9/1/98