This is Japanese braiding. As with so many other crafts, the Japanese start with the same materials used by workers anywhere else in the world. Then, they apply their own techniques to create something completely new.
This book gives clear, simple directions for making or improvising the tools needed. It takes a bit of effort to hold the incomplete work in place and feed in each strand as needed, so the tools really are necessary. You can't just grab a few strings and try the techniques. The tools are easy to put together from common household materials - film canisters, coins, and a few other things - so don't let that put you off.
The braids themselves are presented in beautiful photos, along with clear, complete directions for making each one. The photos also show how one braid can look very different according to the colors and kinds of strands woven together.
It's not something to pick up casually on a rainy day and try with your kid. It takes some preparation, and some practice to get an even result. That is well within reach of the home crafter, though, and well worth the effort.