Flying Rokkakus

Good Reliable Kites At Any Size!

Rokkakus are originally from Japan, but have been enthusiastically taken up by many Western builders and fliers. Although the authentic kite was a fighter, most Roks you see at festivals are simply made for their performance and reliable flying characteristics. The hexagonal shape also presents a handy canvas to show off tasteful art work!

Our little 1-Skewer Rokkaku design requires a tail, but is then a good moderate wind flier. Initially, we made a few in clear plastic, while experimenting with a few details of the construction. More recently, this kite has been made more visible by doing the sail in orange plastic and using a simple ribbon tail made from black plastic.

Next up in size comes the 2-Skewer Rokkaku, which prefers fairly light winds. A wonderful kite to fly on those light wind and thermals kind of days! In fact, this would have to be one of my very favorite Skewer kites to fly in thermal conditions.

The only drawback is getting a sore neck from looking straight up all the time!

Finally, we started making larger kites like the Dowel Rokkaku. This one has a 4-leg bridle, which keeps the kite very steady and predictable most of the time. This kite also likes to go directly overhead when given the slightest help from warm rising air!

Down below is a photo or 2 and a video of all the MBK Rokkakus. This illustrates the end result, in case you decide to use our instructions to make one of these kites.

Rokkakus - original 1-Skewer Rokkaku

This dinky little number is called the 1-Skewer Rokkaku. You see, the vertical spar is a 29 cm (1 foot) bamboo BBQ skewer.

The original was made from clear freezer-bag plastic, which made it almost impossible to see against a gray sky. A good little moderate wind flier though, with that tail for extra stability.

We fly this one on 50 meters (150 feet) of 20 pound line. It doesn't need that strength, but we also fly our 2-skewer kites on the same line.

Rokkakus - the latest 1-Skewer Rokkaku kite.

Here's the latest version of the 1-Skewer Rokkaku, in orange garden bag plastic.

The tail is cut from a cheap black garbage bag. The long ribbon tail helps the kite cope in moderate breezes, keeping it pointed into the wind.

Check out the video below, which shows this kite trying to stay up in a very light breeze. And quite gusty. Shortly after, the kite ended up on the grass below.

Rokkakus - 2-Skewer Rokkaku

The 2-Skewer Rokkaku has a span of 2 skewer lengths, or about 58 cm (46 inches) On a 20 pound line, this kite loves thermal weather and scoots around directly overhead when in rising air.

The kite pictured has 2-ply plastic which makes it a little heavier, but it is still a great performer in light winds.

The video below shows this kite on a short line in a fairly gusty light breeze. I started recording a moment after launching the kite off the grass.

See how the Rok flies up high, responding to every change in the wind. Rokkakus built from skewers and plastic are very efficient, as long as the wind strength doesn't go too high. In stronger wind, they distort. Then the kite really starts to drag at the wind, and is forced to fly at lower line angles.

Rokkakus - the Dowel Rokkaku in flight.

The largest of the MBK Rokkakus so far, the Dowel Rokkaku. With plenty of sail area, this one does well in light conditions despite the extra weight of dowel.

Size? It's about twice as tall as the 2-Skewer Rokkaku, so that's about 4 times the sail area.

Compared to the 1-Skewer Rokkaku, the Dowel Rokkaku has about 16 times as much sail area!

The video below was taken on this kite's very first outing, quite late in the day. Despite its size, the breeze was so light that my 3 year old son was able to hold on while the big Rok floated on the end of about 15 meters (50 feet) of line.

Out In The Field

Rokkaku kite stories of my real-life flying experiences are worth checking out!

Illustrated with photos and videos, of course.

That's about it for this page on Rokkakus. In 3 convenient sizes!

Hope you enjoyed the pics and the info.

E-book special of the month (25% off)...

Click to get 'Making The MBK Parachute Kite'

This printable e-book takes you step-by-step through making a 119 cm (4 ft) wide Parachute kite. It's not quite that wide in the air since the canopy takes on a distinct curved shape when inflated. This 14-cell kite performs best in moderate to fresh wind speeds. That's 20 to 38 kph or 13 to 24 mph. In gentle winds, this kite will hang in the air at fairly low line angles. In fresh winds, it pulls firmly for it's size, so small kids should only fly it while supervised!

Every kite design in the MBK Soft Series satisfies the following points...

  • Materials are plastic sheet, tape and line – and nothing more!
  • Tools are a ruler, scissors and a marker pen - and nothing more!
  • All cuts are along straight lines.

For the greatest chance of success, I make recommendations regarding the materials. For example, the type/weight of plastic, type/width of tape and line type/strength. Close enough should nearly always be good enough, since the design is well-tested and should be tolerant of small differences from my original.

Get the e-book for making the MBK Parachute kite. After making your first one in plastic and seeing how it performs, you can try soft Tyvek or rip-stop nylon for your next build.

The e-book is a PDF file - which means printable instructions to refer to while you make the kite. It also means convenient off-line access if that suits you better.

What's New!

  1. Flight Report:
    Sunny And Light For Della Porta

    Aug 19, 17 12:29 AM

    Winter-like weather has been the norm here for many weeks. But today was sunny with very light winds. A rare opportunity to take out the tail-less Della Porta variant with it's latest mini-bridle conf…

    Read More


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Kite-making e-book: Simplest Dowel Kites

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Kite-making e-book: Simplest Dowel Kites

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Wind Speeds

Light air
1-5 km/h
1-3 mph
1-3 knots
Beaufort 1

Light breeze
6–11 km/h
4–7 mph
4–6 knots
Beaufort 2    

Gentle breeze
12–19 km/h
8–12 mph
7–10 knots
Beaufort 3    

Moderate breeze
20–28 km/h
13–18 mph
11–16 knots
Beaufort 4    

Fresh breeze
29–38 km/h
19–24 mph
17–21 knots
Beaufort 5    

Strong breeze
39–49 km/h
25–31 mph
22–27 knots
Beaufort 6

High Wind
50-61 km/h
32-38 mph
28-33 knots
Beaufort 7