Japanese Fish Kites

Eye-catching Glossy Windsocks!

A couple of Japanese fish kites, in the traditional red and blue.His and hers?
A couple of Japanese fish kites, in the traditional red and blue.His and hers?

For many years, maybe decades, people around the world have known about Japanese Fish Kites. The traditional term is koinobori (鯉のぼり) which literally means carp streamer. Another term sometimes used is satsuki-nobori (皐のぼり).

From a kiting perspective, these brightly colored shimmering tubes are closer to being windsocks. However, since these are such a major part of Japanese kite culture I thought they still deserved a page on this site.

Being light-weight, open at one end and closed at the other is pretty close to being a wind-sock. Aviation windsocks are generally open at both ends, but taper down to a much smaller outlet size than the inlet.

Widely available online, some sets of these 'kites' are very glossy and vibrantly colorful. The color can fade after a while but it all depends on how you treat them and how long they spend in the sun!

Near the bottom of this page is a great image plus link to some others that have been carefully collated.



Children's Day


In Japan, May 5th each year is a time of celebration for children. Funnily enough it’s called Children’s Day!

It used to be for boys only, but Japan has moved with the times so that both boys and girls can enjoy the day now.

On this day, fish kites and streamers are hung from bamboo poles outside people's homes, representing the male occupants. In fact, this goes for poles everywhere around the country, and even from the occasional car aerial! As the wind blows into the mouth of the windsock, the kite wriggles around giving the impression of a fish swimming upstream.



The Carp


Traditionally, it is the fresh water Carp that is depicted by the kites. The upstream struggle of the fish represented the passage of a boy through to manhood. According to legend, when the carp reached the river source, it became a dragon.

Hence these creations are also known widely as Carp Kites. For the sake of correctness, let's call them Carp Windsocks!

The great photo below shows some pristine and very glossy looking Japanese fish kites, err sorry, Carp Windsocks. The traditional colors of red and blue are also present, on the far right.



Also, for a little more variety, check out this Pinterest board on Japanese fish kites.




OK, it's not a 'fish', but why not attempt your very own creature kite...

Have a look at Making The MBK Octopus Kite if you would like to make and fly one yourself, from my e-book instructions. The e-book is a PDF file download, from which it's easy to get print-outs. 

Somewhat appropriately, the best place to fly home-made sea-creature kites is down at a beach :-)  Wait until there is an on-shore breeze, that is, when the wind is blowing across the sand from the water. The exact angle really doesn't matter.



You might like these...


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Thanks so much, and happy flying!



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P.S. Keep an eye out for books by kite author Glenn Davison, a prominent kite person in the USA.

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

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

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

Strong ...
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

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Plenty of fun kite info, photos and videos - there's definitely too much here for only one visit! Feel free to leave your impressions of this site or just this page, below...