Japanese Carp Streamer

Koinobori, or Japanese carp streamers, are created in celebration of Children’s Day in Japan on May 5 by drawing fish patterns onto paper or cloth and then hanging the streamers outside to fly in the breeze. Traditionally, a set of koinobori are hung from a pole. The black koinobori, the largest fish windsock, represents the father and is followed by a slightly smaller red or pink koinobori that represents the mother. Other fish decreasing in size and in a variety of colors are hung underneath to represent the children in the family. Koi fish are a symbol of strength, courage, and determination. Use materials in your MFA art kit or from home to create your own carp streamer. What will yours look like?


wind socket in the shape of a long carp blowing in the wind


You will need:

  • a large piece of paper to cover your table
  • painter’s tape
  • washable markers
  • white oil pastel, white crayon, or white cray-pas
  • spray bottle
  • water
  • glue stick
  • white strip of cardstock
  • scissors
  • ribbon or string

If you don’t have an MFA art kit, you will also need:

  • Fish Wind Sock Template
  • pencil or permanent marker to trace fish template
  • non-glossy, white drawing paper or construction paper at least 11 x 17 inches
  • small strip of cardstock the length of the fish’s mouth
  • hole punch

Step 1

template depicting two sides of carp, intended to be cut out for activity
If you don’t have an MFA art kit, download and print the Fish Wind Sock Template onto 11x17 paper. Use scissors to cut the paper following the lines on the template. If you have an MFA art kit, pull out the pre-cut paper fish in your kit.

Step 2

Cut-out fish template tapes to paper covered tabletop, with markers and ribbon laid on top
Cover the table with the large piece of paper and gather all your materials. Tape the paper to the table using painter’s tape and tape the fish to the large piece of paper.

Step 3

Using markers to color in and highlight the scales of the fish template
Use the markers and white oil pastel to add color, designs, and patterns. Make lots of different marks!

Step 4

Spraying water on the fish template colored in with markers; the markings start to bleed across the paper
When you’re done drawing, fill the spray bottle with water. Working slowly, start spraying water onto your fish, one spot at a time. You will notice the washable markers start to bleed on the paper and look like watercolor. Keep spraying until you like the way it looks. Let it dry.

Step 5

Gluing strip of card stock on mouth of fish template
Flip the fish over so the back is facing you. Glue the strip of white cardstock onto the mouth of the fish.

Step 6

Using scissors to trim the cardstock to fit the mouth of the fish template
Using scissors, trim the white cardstock to fit the shape of the fish’s mouth.

Step 7

Applying glue to specified edges of the fish template using gluestick
Add glue along the top fins, the edge of the tail, and the top corner of the mouth.

Step 8

Folding the fish template in half and threading ribbon through holes near the fish's mouth
Fold the fish in half, but do not crease. Make sure the mouth stays open! Once all the glue is dry, thread the ribbon through holes near the fish’s mouth and hang it up outside.