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On 5 May, in celebration of Kodomo no hi (Children’s Day, originally a celebration for boys and known as Tango-no-sekku), Japanese families usually hang koinobori (carp-shaped windsocks) outside their houses.

Koinobori are thought to have originated in the Edo period (1603-1868 CE) and were originally black in colour and made of washi (Japanese paper), but the number and colours of the carp streamers have changed over time. The most familiar colours for a set of koinobori developed later in the Shōwa Period (1926-1989 CE), with a black, a red, and a blue carp of different sizes, each representing a different family member. Nowadays, other colours have started appearing such as green, pink, or purple to represent all the family’s children.

While koinobori are usually hung vertically on a pole, they can be also flown horizontally on ropes, across ponds, fields, rivers and lakes for public events and celebrations.

Be inspired by the history and colours of koinobori and download Japan House London’s worksheet, using your creativity to colour in the template in whatever manner you like, either digitally or by printing off to paint, colour or draw your designs. After colouring your design with your colours or patterns of choice, cut out the template to bring your own koinobori to life with some simple instructions.

Download worksheet

We invite all illustrators, artists and people who download the worksheet to share their finished work on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter using #japanhouselondon and tag us using @japanhouseldn.