Koi fish - its meaning in Japan

Koi fish - its meaning in Japan

The koi fish, also known as carp or Nishikigoi in Japanese, is one of the most iconic fish in Japan. You can easily find this kind of fish in aquariums and in ponds, all over the country. But, it can also be printed on dinnerwares, sheets or wall decor. We can say that the koi fish has a great part in the Japanese culture. Let's learn more about this famous fish and why is it some important for Japanese people.

What is koi fish and is its meaning ?

The carp, or koi fish, lives in rivers or ponds. This freshwater fish has their origin from China 2,500 years ago and was introduced in Japan as a source of food in the 19th century.

In Japan, koi is a symbol of strength and success. It is also associated with anything that is good: luck, prosperity, vitality, and longevity. It is today a full part of the cultural identidy of the Japanese people.

The koi is a strong and large fish compared to other fish. Also, it is a strong swimmer - ever heard of the legend of the koi fish climbing up the waterfall? That is why it is associated with vitality and health. Also, it is a symbol of longevity as it can live from 20 (breeded fish) to 70 years (wild fish).

A colorful fish

The color of koi varies depending on their variety. Those used as ornament in the garden ponds often have bright colors like red, golden, yellow, and orange. Those who are seen in rivers are usually light brown.

Its beauty has made it also a valuable fish, as it can be sold at a very high price. Did you know that the most expensive koi was sold in Japan for $1.8 million?

Koi fish printed on objects

Koi fish has become so symbolic that you can find it printed on everyday objects as well as for special occasions.

On Children'day or Koinobori, a holiday in Japan, people are displaying carp-shaped windsocks. This is a day where the parent wish for the healthy growth (like the carp) of their children, and the displayed koi is a symbol of the strong fish climbing the waterfall.

You can also find the koi fish printed on dinnerwares, on canvas, or even as tattoos.


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