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Hitachi Kite-Making Workshops Expand to Maryland

Hitachi Kite-Making Workshops Expand to Maryland

The Hitachi Japanese Kite Workshops returned to the Washington, DC area for the second time in its history. This year, Hitachi Rail and Hitachi Vantara Federal also sponsored the “Kites in the Classroom” event, supporting Kite Master Mr. Mikio Toki in bringing the art of traditional Japanese kite-making to over 250 elementary school students.

Hitachi, Ltd., in partnership with the Japan-America Society of Southern California, has hosted these kite-making workshops for over 17,000 students–many from low-income and high-risk areas–throughout the Los Angeles area for the past 20 years. They expanded to include schools in Washington, DC in 2023, and in 2024 brought the cultural experience to five schools in Prince George's County, Maryland: Capitol Heights Elementary, Arrowhead Elementary, Princeton Elementary, and Tayac Elementary. Hitachi also sponsors the National Cherry Blossom Festival’s “Kites with KIPP” program, which brings Mr. Toki’s expertise to the KIPP charter schools in Washington, DC.

Mr. Toki, one of the few remaining Edo-style kite masters, travels from Japan each year to educate young students on the history of the kites, which are different from Western-style kites in design and mechanics. The students then make their own kites from scratch–drawing the design, anchoring the kite with bamboo sticks, and attaching string and winder–and fly their finished creations outdoors. Over the past two decades, both children and teachers alike have praised the workshops for combining together a creative outlet with cross-cultural learning.

Prince George’s County was chosen as the location for this year based on its proximity to the upcoming Hitachi Rail facility in Hagerstown, MD, which will manufacture the new 8000 series trains for the Washington Metro Area Transit Authority (WMATA) among other passenger and freight railcars in the United States. Hitachi Vantara Federal is headquartered in Reston, Virginia, approximately 40 miles east of Prince George’s County.

“The rail team is excited to be a part of Hitachi group’s decades long legacy of facilitating student kite workshops during the National Cherry Blossom Festival,” said Joseph Pozza, President of Hitachi Rail North America. “This year, through support from Hitachi Rail and other Hitachi group companies, the team was able to extend this great work into the state of Maryland – helping to ensure that a larger group of students are able to participate in the joy of kite making each year.”

Mark Serway, President and CEO of Hitachi Vantara Federal, agrees. "At Hitachi Vantara Federal, we believe in nurturing the minds and creativity of the next generation. Participating in this event not only introduces students to the rich and cultural heritage of traditional Japanese kite-making, but also fosters an environment where they can explore their artistic talents and develop a deeper appreciation for diverse cultures. We are thrilled to be supporting educational programs like this that inspire young learners.”

Hitachi is committed to improving the lives of Americans through its products, services, and programs, including giving young students the opportunity to engage in hands-on experiences like these kite-making workshops. We hope to expand the program even further in years to come.