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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
That's about it for this page on Rokkakus. In 3 convenient sizes!
Hope you enjoyed the pics and the info.