Japan has long used kites for both utilitarian and recreational purposes. Typically made from frames of a bamboo which are then covered with Japanese washing paper or light, thin fabrics like silk, Japanese kites are decorated with pictures featuring birds, insects, legendary samurai and more. The pictures are outlined in dark sumi ink and then filled in and accented with traditional Japanese colors. Each region of Japan has their own characteristic shape and style for kites, making Japanese kites some of the most spectacular in the world. Treasured for their aesthetic as much as their use, kites continue to be an important part of Japanese culture even today.

Below you will find nine traditional kite designs from regions around Japan. Each design features a different motif and are real kites currently on display in the JICC gallery. Pick your desired level and try your hand at making a Japanese kite!

Stop by the JICC gallery to see Art in the Wind: Traditional Japanese Kites, on display until August 18!