Traditional Japanese kites featuring rats, which represent next year's Chinese zodiac sign, are displayed at Takomo Honten kite shop in Nagoya's Nishi Ward in central Japan, as the peak period for their production begins. The shop has created kites since the end of the Edo period in the 19th century. A white rat on top of a large red chili and the kanji character for the zodiac animal are painted on the kites for next year. A total of 2,500 kites in five varieties will be made by the end of this year. Naoki Yamada, 33, the sixth-generation owner of the shop, said, "The birth rate in Japan has been continuing to fall. I hope many children will be born next year thanks to the power of the prolific rat."
(Japanese original by Koji Hyodo, Nagoya Photo Group)