Kodomo no hi – Children’s Day in Japan

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By Karen Hartwriter

The ‘Kodomo no hi’ festival on 5 May is eagerly anticipated by children all over Japan. Get your own setting in on the fun with these activities!

Create your own Koinobori

On this special day in Japan, a traditional Koinobori flag in the shape of a carp (a type of fish), is flown for each child in the family. As the breeze gently blows the fish, they look like they are swimming.

Kodomo no hi 5

An adult will need to do all the assembling, so make this a group project, making just two or three – children helping with the decorating bits. Then it’s everyone outside to watch them swim through the air!

You will need (per fish):
  • One A3 sheet of heavy paper
  • Paints, chunky markers, scrap box scraps or old magazines for decoration
  • Glue
  • Length of string or ribbon for fixing or holding
  • Scraps of tissue paper, crepe paper or some colourful carrier bags for making streamers
  • Stapler
  • Hole punch
  • Draw a big fish shape, with an opening for the mouth and tail – at least 15cm wide at each end, with the body being as fat as possible at its widest part.
  • Cut out so you have two identical fish.
  • Decorate one side of each fish shape with paint, chunky markers, tissue paper and/or any scraps available. We cut big fish scale shapes from colourful magazine pages to decorate ours. Leave to dry.
  • Lay first fish decorated side down on table and glue around the edges, but leave the mouth and tail un-glued. Press second fish firmly on top, pressing seams to give a firm seal.
  • Glue some tissue or crepe paper streamers to the tail and leave to dry, or cut some streamers from colourful carrier bags like we did.
  • Fix fish mouth open with a staple at each corner.
  • Punch a hole on each side of the fish mouth and thread your length of string or ribbon through the holes, tying the ends of the string to the holes.
  • Now you’re ready to hang your traditional Koinobori outside so everyone can watch it swimming through the air. Or, if it’s not very windy out, let children take turns to run around with it outdoors, holding it at arm’s length, so it floats through the air
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