Riding the Wind with Koinobori: A Colorful Tradition for Tango no Sekku

In Japan and many parts of Asia, the arrival of May heralds the vibrant display of Koinobori (carp streamers) fluttering in the wind. These strikingly colourful creations are a traditional part of Tango no Sekku, or Children’s Day, a Japanese national holiday celebrated on May 5th. The carp-shaped windsocks are hoisted outside homes to wish for the health, strength, and future success of their children.

Koinobori originated from an ancient Chinese legend about a carp that swam upstream to become a dragon. In Japanese culture, the carp symbolises strength and determination due to its ability to swim against strong currents. Hence, it’s traditionally used as a symbol for boys, who are encouraged to grow up with the same characteristics.

Making Koinobori is a delightful tradition that combines cultural heritage with creativity and craft. The process involves crafting a carp-shaped windsock from fabric or paper. The carp’s body is typically painted in bright colours like red, black, or blue, while its scales and eyes are accentuated with white and black paint respectively. A pair of long streamers flowing from its mouth represent its whiskers.

Traditionally, each Koinobori set consists of different sized carps representing each member of the family. The largest carp symbolises the father, followed by the mother, and smaller ones for each child in descending order of age. They are displayed on a tall pole outside the house with the father’s carp at the top.

With modern times, gender-specific symbols have been relaxed, and now Koinobori are put up for all children in the family irrespective of their gender. While this change reflects society’s evolving views on gender roles, it also allows more scope for creativity in crafting Koinobori. Now you can see carps in all colours of the rainbow adorning Japanese homes during Tango no Sekku.

Crafting Koinobori can be a fun DIY project that not only encourages creativity but also helps children learn about Japanese culture and traditions. Since it’s made from simple materials like fabric or paper and paint, it’s an accessible craft for all ages. Moreover, it provides an opportunity for families to spend quality time together while making something beautiful and meaningful.

While traditionally Koinobori were made from cloth sewn into a tube shape and painted by hand, today there are many creative variations using different materials and techniques. From paper mache to origami versions, there are countless ways to create your unique Koinobori.

Whether you’re living in Japan or just interested in incorporating some Japanese culture into your life, creating Koinobori for Tango no Sekku can be a rewarding experience. It’s not just about crafting a beautiful piece of art but also about celebrating children’s strength and potential. This year, why not try your hand at creating your own Koinobori? Let these colourful carps flutter freely in your yard or balcony, spreading joy and good wishes for everyone who sees them.


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Hello everyone, I'm Bea, and I absolutely adore bringing imagination to life through arts and crafts. I find great joy in volunteering for scout troops and local gatherings, helping young minds discover the magic of turning simple materials into their own masterpieces.

While I've been told I have a knack for crafting, I believe that the real magic lies in the shared moments of creativity, the laughs when something doesn't go quite as planned, and the pride that comes with completing a project. For me, crafts are less about perfection and more about the joy of creating and sharing.

When I'm not busy with a project or event, you'll often find me exploring new craft ideas or hunting for unique materials to transform. From paper and paint to fabric and beads, there's no craft supply that doesn't spark my imagination!

Whether you're an experienced craft enthusiast or just starting out, I welcome you to join me on this journey of creativity and fun. Here at Be Crafty, let's inspire each other and create beautiful things together!