Okay, he didn't lie. I lied. He is Daruma. And this is the reader email that called me out (thank you, reader, and sorry):
...this has been bugging me for a while but please let whoever ... wrote the "fierce samurai" kite article on Seattle Art and Performance Quarterly Vol 1 No 3 Fall 2012 [know] that the red kite man pictured is NOT A SAMURAI. Just because something is japanese doesn't mean its a samurai, hoss. It's Bodhidharma, aka in japan DARUMA the founder of zen buddhism, who cut off his eyelids, and they grew into the ground to become the first green tea plants.They're common in restaurants and at presidential ceremonies (maybe not so common in restaurants now), in japan.