What are koi?
Carp, known as Koi in Japan is a stunningly beautiful fish that has a lot of significance in Japanese culture and tradition. Koi are very serene and tranquil fish, they represent love and friendship. This may be linked in with the Zen Buddhist tradition of Japan, which strongly places value on a peaceful contemplative garden.
How did they get here?
The Japanese have a long colorful history with the koi fish. It was brought over by the Chinese thousand of years ago primarily as a source of food.
The fish themselves were apparently not as intricately colorful as today. It is said that the Japanese began breeding the koi, which has become an icon in Japan today.
- Since the 1800’s it has primarily been bred for its aesthetics, being a fish of beauty. It was originally called ‘nishikigoi’ which means weaved or brocaded carp. As brocade is in fact the art of weaving expensive fabrics such as silk into elaborate designs.
- Nowadays koi are found in small ponds and sites of significance such as shrines, castles, temples and palaces.
- A famous site to spot koi is at the world heritage site Tenryu-ji temple.
- There are narrow streams linking into the pond where a collection of beautiful koi can be viewed.
- Koi live up to 200 years often outliving their owners.
- Koi are often passed down from generation to generation in Japan.
- Those who receive koi as gifts are said to have good luck.