Japanese carp windsocks, called koinobori, are used to celebrate Children's Day, May 5th, in Japan. Children's Day became an official holiday in 1948 but has ties with an ancient festival that celebrated the boys of families. The Japanese hang koinobori outside, one carp windsock for each boy in the family. The family reserve the biggest windsock for the oldest son.
The carp, a fish highly respected in Asian society, is called "koi" in Japanese. While carp provided a food source originally, raising and breeding carp became an important hobby in Japanese culture. Because the carp has to overcome many obstacles as it swims upstream to spawn, it became a symbol of the courage and strength needed to succeed in life. Children can have fun and benefit from learning about Japanese culture by making carp windsocks.
Supplies for Carp Windsocks
Gather some basic supplies for making a Japanese koinobori. Any type of paper will do, including construction or wrapping paper. You will need markers or paint and glitter, if desired, glue, scissors, a pen or pencil, a ruler and string. Most importantly, find a small ring to hold open the mouth of the windsock. If you cannot find a pre-made ring, cut out the centre of a round plastic container lid and use the edge as a ring.
Cutting Out the Windsock
Measure the diameter of the round ring you have with a ruler. The diameter of the ring determines the size of your fish and especially its mouth. Place two pieces of paper on top of each other. Using the ring measurement and a ruler, mark the diameter of the ring with a straight line going across from mark to mark at the top of the paper; this will be the mouth of the fish. Draw a vase shape down from the mouth and taper it at the bottom with an inverted "v" for the tail. Hold both pieces of paper together and cut along the lines with scissors to create the fish shape.
Decorating the Windsock
Use paint or markers to create colourful patterns on both pieces of paper. Cut out small circles of leftover paper and glue the circles on the paper fish for scales. Spread a thin layer of glue over the paper fish shapes and sprinkle on glitter for extra sparkle. You have the opportunity for customisation when decorating the windsock. Once you decorate both pieces of paper, let them dry overnight.
Finishing the Windsock
Glue the sides of the windsock together and glue the ring into the mouth of the carp. Cut two small holes, one on each side of the windsock, underneath the ring. Push string through each hole and tie a knot around the ring. Bring both strings up in a "v" shape 12 inches from the top the windsock to make a hanger and tie a knot. Trim the string with scissors if needed. Hang your finished windsock up.
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