japanese koi fish history
The Koi has an interesting history. They are the national fish of the country of Japan, and a member of the carp family (Cyprinus carpio). This is why some people call the fish Koi Carp. Koi are also called warrior or samurai fish in Japan. These names have nothing to do with their disposition. In fact, it is safe to assume that most of the Koi you will see are lovers instead of fighters! Koi are also known as Nishikigoi, which means, “brocaded carp” in Japan and other locations. Yet another title for these interesting fish is “Japanese Carp”, which is rather redundant, as the word “koi” means “domesticated carp” in Japanese.
Where Did the Koi Come From?
There is some debate as to where the Koi originated. Several authorities on these fish believe that these colorful fish first appeared in the country of Persia, which is now Iran. From Persia, the Koi gradually moved into and through the rest of the prehistoric world. The fossils of Koi that are around 20 million years old were found in the southern part of China.
Koi as a Food Supplement
The first mention of Koi was in a Chinese book written anywhere from 265 to 316 A.D. The text describing them said that the fish were black, red, white, and blue. Up until around 800 A.D., the common carp was raised in Japan as a protein food supplement. Historians are not sure exactly what was done with Koi from the second century until the seventeenth century, but they theorize that the fish were so popular with the Japanese natives that these people gave them to friends, who gave them to friends, and on and on until the Koi extended across the Orient.
Koi Are Very Versatile
Koi Carp seem to be survivalists, and their capability to adapt and thrive in so many diverse climates and water environments was responsible for the fish doing well in so many places. Selective breeding during this time accomplished several different pattern variations of the Koi. The most common color during this period was the red and white Kohaku.
The Tokyo Exposition
In 1914, the variety of Koi known as the Niigata was taken to Tokyo for inclusion in an exposition, which was held every year. It was during this time that people all over Japan became enamored of the Koi, and started to keep them in outdoor ponds at their homes. Soon after this period, the fascination with koi spread around the world. Today, people are still captivated with these gorgeous fish.