Make a Japanese Cherry Blossom Branch Using Ink and Tissue Paper

Project Title: Make a Japanese Cherry Blossom Branch Using Ink and Tissue Paper

Description: Students will learn about Japan and the cherry blossom branch. They will view images of sumi-e art and its nature-inspired simplistic qualities. They will create a branch using black India ink and tissue paper.

Author: Dayna Ensminger

Grade level or Target Age Range: Elementary Level, ages 8+

Historical Art Examples or References: Sumi-e artwork

Vocabulary: Sumi-e, cherry blossom branch, bamboo brush, overlap, collage

Materials: Construction paper 9×12, black India ink, paint brushes (preferably bamboo brushes, but regular will do), containers for ink, containers for water, paper towels, Elmer’s glue, tissue paper squares



1. Discuss Japan: what we know about the history, culture, geographical location, etc. Encourage a group discussion on cherry blossom branches and make connections to where you’ve seen them before and what colors the blossoms are.

2. View images of sumi-e art and discuss the easiness or difficulty of painting with just black ink.

3. Teacher will demo how to use the India ink. Show students that since we are using construction paper, the paper absorbs the ink very quickly. Show students the base of the branch should be the thickest part, and gradually get thinner as it breaks or “branches” away toward the sides of the paper.

4. Students begin painting their branches. They are encouraged to take their time and use the water and napkins to fix their bristles if they get too wide.
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5. Let brush soak in water.

6. Use Elmer’s glue to ‘dot’ where you would like the blossoms to be.

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7. Gently pinch and crumple tissue paper squares and press onto glue dots.

8. Enjoy your beautiful Japanese cherry blossom branches!

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When I taught this lesson at Cione Recreation Center, I started by asking the students to share and discuss what they know about Japan. Many students had ideas including sushi, noodles/ramen, fish, the unique architecture, and other traditions of Japanese culture. I asked if anyone knew of or has seen a Japanese cherry blossom tree. Some of the students were familiar, as they’ve created something similar with their art teachers in school. I showed an image of cherry blossoms to the students and explained what we’d be creating.

 I stressed the importance of being careful with the ink, as it could stain their clothing if they are not careful! The students understood and were eager to use the material. I show them my example and showed them how to paint a branch. They could follow me as I painted, or they could just dive right in and create their own branch. There’s no wrong answer here!

We found ourselves straying a bit from the typical cherry blossom branch — which are typically white and pink flowers — and getting colorful with orange, blue, and yellow! Our atypical cherry blossom branches were fun, bright and perfect for summer!

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       Miss Dayna