Koinobori are carp-shaped windsocks or streamers. They are seen all over Japan from April until early in May to celebrate Children's Day, which is May 5. Originally used by ancient Japanese warriors on the battlefield, the Koinobori were streamers of different colours and shapes, some of which had carps on them. A symbol of courage and strength, families fly the "carp streamers" fly to honour these desired traits in their sons.
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What the Colors Mean
A Japanese koinobori set is hung in a particular order. If on a pole, the top is adorned with a pair of arrow-spoked wheels and a ball-shaped spinning vane. A flying dragon windsock is nearest the top of the pole. A large black koinobori flies next representing the father. Then a smaller red or a pink koinobori symbolises the mother. Depending on how many boys are in the household, next is blue, green, then either purple or orange (depending on region).
The Koinobori Song
Japanese children and their families sing a special Koinobori song. It translate into English to say:
Higher than the rooftops are the koinobori
The large Carp is the father
The smaller Carp are the children
They seem to be having fun swimming.
Japanese families fly their koinobori with pride.
Make a Paper Koinobori
Using paper or a paper bag, fold the paper in half. Draw the large fish keeping as much as possible of the fold on the top of the fish. Cut out leaving fold keeping the two fish together. Colour with pastels or crayons. Paint over with blue tempra paint. The pastels or crayons will resist the paint to make the fish look like it's underwater. Glue two pipecleaners twisted together to the back side of the fish where the mouth will be. Glue sides and tail together leaving the mouth part open. Add string to each side of the mouth and tie to a wooden stick.
Make a Fabric Koinobori
Use lightweight material like cotton to make a koinobori. Draw your carp with a mirror image fish touching along the top. Paint with fabric paints or watered down acrylic paints. Allow to dry. Cut out your koinobori leaving the top, where it will fold, uncut. Stitch a two inch pocket around the inside length of the mouth. Insert wire, twist ends together and form into a circle. Stitch the around the body leaving a small gap. Turn inside out. Use a fishing line to attach to a pole and your koinobori is ready to sail.
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