As I reached for a book on the shelf where I've been collecting reference materials for this project, I realized the connection.
The colors and designs on these beads match those in Keith Baker's gorgeous picture book, The Magic Fan, the story of a Japanese boy whose inventions save his town.
Lurking somewhere in the recesses of my mind, Baker's illustrations-- of the kite and the bridge that Yoshi builds--are inextricably linked to Japan.
My project is about koi, the Japanese pond fish that is represented on the kites that families fly on Children's Day. I think I'll wear these earrings again in March during our school-wide culture study of Japan. They're so Japanese!