Koinobori – Japanese flying carp DIY

Koinobori (Japanese Flying Carp) DIY from Squirrelly Minds
We all know Mexico celebrates Cinco do Mayo on Sunday, but did you know on the same day Japan is celebrating Boy’s day? (/ childrens day).
Koinobori (Japanese Flying Carp) DIY from Squirrelly Minds
When I lived in Japan I loved seeing all the wind sock carps flying high above peoples’ homes, each carp signifying a boy in the family (don’t worry, girls get their own day in March). My picture above really doesn’t do it justice. The flying koinobori is a beautiful sight.
Koinobori (Japanese Flying Carp) DIY from Squirrelly Minds
I’m feeling a little ‘homesick’ for Japan (and it’s been 8 years since I’ve lived there) so in memory, I decided to make a little mini koinobori to celebrate!
These aren’t for hanging high above your home, but you can certainly wave them around and watch the pretty colours fly!
This DIY is very kid friendly. If you have a son or two, why not celebrate Boy’s day with them and make some? Here’s what you need:

Koinobori (Japanese Flying Carp) DIY from Squirrelly Minds
You will also need a bit of white paper and black marker to make the eyes.
String or yarn can be used instead of twine.
If you do plan to wave these around like a madman/boy, I suggest using hot glue gun for steps 8 and 9.
Koinobori (Japanese Flying Carp) DIY from Squirrelly Minds
1 In 3-4 colours, cut out several circles of tissue paper, approx 1.5 inches in diameter, then cut them in half to make semi circles. Place a piece of double sided tape all the way around the bottom of your toilet paper roll. Start placing the straight edge of each semi circle on the double sided tape, overlapping slightly so no roll shows underneath Ensure the curved end of the semi circle hangs off the roll so it isn’t attached. This end will be the fish’s tail. Complete all the way around.
2 Leaving a 5cm gap, place another strip of double sided tape around the roll and repeat with the semi circles. The colour order doesn’t matter much, just do what you think looks good. You will have to overlap a fair bit and not all the ends will be taped down. Leave them. The next layer should cover them.
3 Repeat all the way to the top, making sure you finish with the tape and half circles around the very top of the roll. This is the head. At this point if there are any half circles that are still sticking up, use double sided tape to stick them down.
4 Cut out a circle with white paper (approx. 1 inch in diameter) then use a black marker to draw a large circle inside for the eye. Use double sided tape to stick onto the side of the head.
Koinobori (Japanese Flying Carp) DIY from Squirrelly Minds
5 Cut strips of tissue paper using the same colours as your semi circles. At the tail end, carefully place a piece of double sided tape inside, along the bottom of the roll. One by one, stick a long piece of tissue paper to the tape, going all the way around until it’s covered.
6 Trim any ends if necessary so they’re about the same length. Repeat steps 1-6 to make two more carp.
7 Cut three pieces of twine about 7 inches long. Double knot each one onto your dowel, making sure the ends are even.
8 Place a piece of double sided tape inside the roll on the head side, opposite the eye. Starting with the top knotted twine on the dowel, secure the loose ends onto the double sided tape inside the roll. If you plan to swing this koinobori around, use hot glue instead, or place another piece of tape on top the twine.
9 Repeat on the opposite side, just behind the eye. Repeat for the next two carp.
Koinobori (Japanese Flying Carp) DIY from Squirrelly Minds
The traditional koinobori colours are black, red, blue, green and sometimes purple or orange. Black is for the father, red for the eldest and so forth. But call me a non-traditionalist. I loved making these in all sorts of fun colours!
Koinobori (Japanese Flying Carp) DIY from Squirrelly Minds

In my family growing up we would just have one black and one red carp hanging – if we lived in Japan that is.
How many carp would you have flying on your koinobori?

Enjoy waving your koinobori, and happy boy’s day!

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Comment (45)

  1. Wavatar Stephanie says:

    Tan, this is adorable! One of my favorite DIY’s of yours, ever. Love the color combos you chose, and the motion photo is so fun!

  2. Wavatar lois says:

    So beautiful! Two would be flying. ;)

  3. Wavatar Mindy says:

    This is so cute!

  4. Wavatar Melanie says:

    These are so great Tan! Very clever and cute.

  5. Wavatar Ally Ebdon says:

    This is SUCH a lovely and original idea. They look so beautiful hanging up!

  6. What a cute idea!! so glad I found it before Sunday! Would it be ok if I post a photo and link onto my blog this weekend??

  7. Wavatar Melissa says:

    Tan, these are so beautiful!! They’d be such a fun project to do with my kids, even though they’re girls. You are really so very talented, my dear.

  8. Wavatar Olivia says:

    Very very beautiful! I share your post on my blog http://www.primaryimportance.blospot.com

  9. Wavatar Ann Martin says:

    Such a great idea. I didn’t know about this custom, thanks for sharing.

  10. Wavatar Tan says:

    Thank you so much for all your kind words! xo

  11. Wavatar Naomi says:

    these are fantastic! I think we are going to give it a go . . .

  12. Lovely, lovely, lovely! I’d love to fill a window with these beauties,even though we don’t celebrate Boys day in Sweden.

  13. The minute this caught my eye on Pinterest I loved it! Such a beautiful and creative project. My son would love these and I want them to hang in my craft room.

  14. I had no clue about this Japanese celebration, but it sounds fun! and I love these flying carps, I bet the kids would, too…

  15. Wavatar Ceaser M. says:

    Those look so cool!!! Love it!

  16. Wavatar Sarah says:

    They’re SO cute! I want a million of them!

  17. I love your koinobori craft! I will have to try it with my kids next year.

  18. Wavatar sara says:

    Really adorable! I have a few sizes of the real thing hanging over my boy’s beds and just realized how appropriate is it for their room, on account of their being boys that is! Would love it if you’d drop by my international linky party (on Sundays) and share some of your craftiness, always looking for talented contributors like you!

  19. Love these, they are wonderful way to reuse toilet rolls. Thank you for sharing this fun and creative tutorial. Can’t wait to try myself :-)

  20. Wavatar Tanis says:

    Nice ! I’ll try it someday with my nephew, I’m sure he’ll love it. Thanks for sharing.

  21. tan, i LOVE these! so cool you lived in japan… my sis lived there for a year and one of my best friends did too so i got to double visit one year! love the koinbori, my parents have some flying out on a stick on their patio, and these are an especially cute version. totally want to try making these!


  22. Wavatar Yukiko says:

    To answer your question: Only one, the black one. My family (relatives not included) has four people but my father is the only man XD

  23. [...] 1,921 تشکر شده بار در 3,718 ارسال. Squirrelly Minds [...]

  24. Wavatar Mercy says:

    I love your post but just like a comment in Mexico we never celebrate cinco de Mayo, just America celebrate, we celebrate Independence Day 16th September

  25. Wavatar Alice says:

    I used this craft as an activity for my homeschool group, and the kids LOVED it! :)

  26. [...] de plus facile à faire  que ce DIY Koinobori, l’idée vient du site squirrellyminds.com et est très facile à réaliser par des petites [...]

  27. [...] avons fait pendant l’un des (rares) jours de pluie de cet été après avoir lu ce chouette post sur Squirrelly Minds. Nos carpes volantes nous ont depuis servi à décorer tables de picnic, [...]

  28. Wavatar Kim Jones says:

    I was very happy to see this project. I lived in Japan for 3 very short years and completely fell in love with the country, people, and traditions. I would have lived there forever and would love to go back someday. Thank you so much for posting this idea. I will be making these with my second graders next week.

  29. Wavatar ICE says:

    This article is intersted and I must to follow it.

  30. [...] Squirrelly Minds » Koinobori – Japanese flying carp DIY. Le pompon ! » Si vous êtes passées à la boutique dernièrement, vous avez forcément craqué sur ces mini-pompons en tulle. [...]

  31. Wavatar Kaori says:

    They are so beautiful! What creativity you have! I can’t wait to try this craft with my 3 year old son. ^_^ I was wondering what size dowel should I use? (1/8″, 1/4″…?)

    • Wavatar Tan says:

      1/4″ works well. You don’t want toothpick thin as it’ll break, and you don’t want it so big it’s uncomfortable for little hands to hold.

  32. Wavatar Janice Fisher says:

    This is lovely and I would love to do it with my children. I have four girls, though, so we are wondering what we could do for girls day in Japan and what day is it celebrated in March?

    • Wavatar Tan says:

      Don’t worry you can still do it with your girls! But celebrating girl’s day would be fun too! It’s March 3rd. From my memory families have little ‘shrines’ with emperor looking dolls. In Japanese it’s Hinamatsuri, which literally translates to princess festival. Here’s a write up from wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hinamatsuri
      It could be fun to get out some red cloth and have your girls make little dolls or set up their favourites in a similar fashion!

  33. Wavatar Darlene says:

    Awesome project – quick, easy and fun. I’d love for you to link it up at our party – The Creative Challenge. This month we are featuring projects made from toilet paper rolls. Hope to see you there. Best Wishes, Darlene

  34. Wavatar Bonnie says:

    Love these carp! You have totally made me homesick for Japan. We lived there for nine years and miss it so much. Thanks for linking up at the Creative Craft Challenge.

  35. You know I have seen these but had no idea the meaning! thanks for sharing this great craft idea! Easy to follow tute and such a fun koinoboroi to wave around in the end! I too would love all the colors :) Thanks for sharing with the Creative Challenge! I hope you stop by this week as this post will be featured! :)

  36. Wavatar Diana says:

    Hi! I’m visiting via the Craft Challenge party and just had to stop by to tell you how much I loved your Koinobori!! They are just darling–such a wonderfully creative idea. Thanks for sharing–

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