News Releases


Hitachi-Sponsored Kite Workshops Held in Washington, DC for First Time

Hitachi-Sponsored Kite Workshops Held in Washington

For more than 20 years, Hitachi, Ltd., in partnership with the Japan America Society of Southern California, has provided a cultural experience like no other to over 17,000 elementary school students throughout the Los Angeles area, many from low-income and high-risk areas. In 2023, the kite workshops expanded for the first time to Washington, DC.

Kite Master Mikio Toki, one of only a few Edo-style kite masters left in the world, travels from Japan each fall to teach elementary school-age children the art of kite making. Mr. Toki teaches students how to make traditional Japanese kites out of bamboo and delicate washi paper. During the workshop, the students put their kites together from scratch—taping the bamboo sticks together, threading the string that will eventually allow the kites to fly, and decorating their kites with drawings. After the session has concluded, many of the children fly their kites on the playground and keep this memory with them for years to come.

This year, the playground expanded all the way across the country to the Nation’s Capital. Mr. Toki traveled to Washington, DC several months earlier than usual to lend his kite-making expertise to the National Cherry Blossom Festival, an annual event that draws over a million people each year to the region to view the city’s very own cherry blossoms. As part of the festival preparations, Mr. Toki held a kite workshop for approximately 100 third and fourth grade students at a KIPP DC charter school, one in a network of 20 charter schools in the DC area educating 7,300 students total.

“As a teacher I thought [the workshop] was a wonderful multidisciplinary experience,” said Thomas Flaherty, a science teacher at KIPP DC. He mentioned that this opportunity gave the students “a good example of math and engineering, and also some creativity and art.”

“They were so invested—they loved doing it and were so excited,” he continued.

Through these Hitachi Japanese Kite Workshops, participating students get a unique, hands-on opportunity into another culture. These workshops also help develop each student’s creativity and promote a can-do attitude after they successfully build and fly their first kite.

The workshops also have a profound and lasting influence: teachers report that during end-of-school-year reviews, many students cite the Hitachi Japanese Kite Workshop as their favorite educational experience of the year. Several of the KIPP DC students mentioned that they were happy with the workshop and were excited to fly their kites after decorating them.

Watch Kite Master Toki’s appearance on WJLA ABC 7 here.