What is Nishikigoi: Japanese Koi Fish

Nishiikigoi is a term that was first used 200 years ago in a village in the Niigata prefecture in Japan.

 Farmers first bred Nishikigoi from black carp (or Magoi) in an effort to survive severe weather conditions, the result of this was a vibrantly colored carp with an admirable figure that stood out from the other fish. As awareness grew, many started to appreciate Nishikigoi like a fine work of art.

 This word is a homophone of another word that means "love" or "affection" in Japanese; among many other things, koi are symbols of love and friendship in Japan.

 Koi are becoming a universal symbol of peace around the world.

 Koi fish were popular and kept by nobles in Japan during the Heian period (794-1185). The nobles fed their koi with "Fu", which was treated as a precious food source and is still eaten today. People observed Koi coming up to the surface when they sprinkled Fu, without scrambling in greed. By sharing both the precious Fu and observing their modest behavior, they nurtured a sense of peace in their hearts. From child to child, this gentleness has been passed down.

In the present day, it is rare to find a country without koi hobbyists. There are people all over the world who are attracted to the koi because of its "peaceful" and "friendly" nature. Observing and interacting with fish has therapeutic benefits, watching them swim is soothing and relaxing. Because koi are freshwater fish, you can create a relaxing koi fish garden pretty much anywhere.


Nishikigoi: What Does It Mean?

Its unique name, "nishiki", comes from the Japanese word for elegant beauty or beauty which means "swimming (or living) jewel".

 Ancient Japan had four treasures: Kin (gold), Gin (silver), Sango (coral), and Aya Nishiki (figured brocade). It is said that the name "Nishiki-goi" is named after "Aya-Nishiki". Nishikigoi has been compared to the multicolored brocade patterns on the traditional Japanese woven silk fabric, the "kimono," which is known for its vibrant yet delicate colors.

Koi is what the Japanese refer to as fish that is meant to be eaten, which is called "ggoi.". Accordingly, Nishikigoi can be translated as "living koi.".

Originally created to be a food source in Japan, these carp or koi soon evolved into an ornamental fish that homeowners kept in their garden ponds for their beauty.

Over time, the koi has come to symbolize success, ambition, perseverance, and advancement in life as the concept of these "living jewelry" expanded. According to Japanese legend, to be a Nishikigoi is to succeed in life.

In Japan, people build homes with ponds and keep Nishikigoi there as a way to ensure the master feels fulfilled. We highly recommend that you purchase our Japanese koi fish for sale to really appreciate how they can add more beauty and balance to your home.


History & Origins of the Japanese Koi

The mutation was the beginning of everything.

 According to Nihon shoki (the oldest chronicle in Japan), Emperor Keiko, the 12th emperor of Japan, stopped in at "Kuguri No Miya" on his way to Gifu prefecture with his vassals to admire the Koi in 720 AD. According to legend, emperor Keiko preferred black-colored Koi and a few red Koi. Where did this red Koi come from? They were created by natural mutations, then gradually selected and bred.

Nishikigoi originated in Yamakoshi Village and Ojiya City from Magoi carp and displayed red and yellow colors and patterns.

As residents began to notice this change, they began selective breeding into Niigata's fertile soil and climate, which further contributed to the fish's beauty and variety. Despite numerous attempts, Japanese koi are now recognized throughout the world as "swimming jewels.".

During a labor intensive and highly selective process, Nishikigoi are raised in indoor and outdoor conditions that are closely monitored. Nishikigoi are regularly evaluated for the best and brightest patterns.

The first carp were bred for color mutations over a thousand years ago in China, where the breeding led to the development of goldfish.

Koi color variations in Japan were first exposed to the world in the early 1900s, when koi were exhibited in Tokyo. From the original set of koi, all other Nishikigoi varieties have been created, and it has become a social hobby for many pond owners. Many hobbyists join local koi clubs to share their knowledge with others and pass it on to the next generation. We are committed to the culture continuing to grow.

As a result, many breeders in Japan use only the best supplies for pond care and maintenance, because quality water is critical to maintaining the health of these growing fish. In addition, many breeders use koi food that keeps the koi happy and glowing in order to create strong, vibrant colors in Nishikigoi.

What are the different varieties of Nishikigoi?

There are approximately 200 varieties of Nishikigoi to choose from. The most popular classification is Gosanke, which is comprised of Kohaku, Taisho Sanshoku Sanke, and Showa Sanshoku varieties. Breeders and farmers of Nishikigoi expanded the categories of fish so that some would only display certain colors and markings on the koi's body as pure "peasant art."

With this artistic expression, there are numerous ways to describe Nishikigoi, such as heroic, strong, magnificent, vigorous, tremendous, etc.

Within a short time, these living jewels caught the attention of more than just the Japanese. By being inspired by Japanese nature and craftsmanship, this culture gave rise to the beloved concept of "Nishikigoi" on a global scale. Nishikigoi became so popular outside Japan that koi lovers around the world held, participated in, and won championships at koi shows.

As a result of these championships and the popularity of the nishikigoi, they are being referred to as the national fish of Japan.

It is a very old and yearly nishikigoi show that attracts both overseas and local very influential people. Even the Japanese imperial family attends! Each year, over 4000 Koi fish are collected from all over Japan. 40 years ago, they put a subtitle to the Koi show titled "Kokugyo no Saiten," translating to "festival of national fish," and this was the moment when they began to view the Nishikigoi as their national fish.

 A Living Jewel of Beauty

After the varieties developed with differing levels of quality, Nishikigoi began to be distinguished by their coloration, patterning, and scalation. Nishikigoi are judged by these distinguishing qualities, along with body conformation and swimming ability, in many koi shows.ming ability.


The Story of Color Unleashed from the Dark - In the Niigata winter, there is no distinction between sky and ground. The only thing they see is the gray color of the snow and a cloudy sky, so they hardly notice the bright colors in the scenery. Moreover, when the first Nishikigoi appeared in the Edo period (1603-1868 CE), people could only wear subdued-colored clothes such as dark blue. A guy who is released from the grey world into the bright, shiny world becomes a gifted artist, it doesn't surprise me.


How To Appreciate Japanese Koi

Among the many varieties of Nishikigoi that are judged at competitions, there are different things to look for depending on the classification of koi being observed. Among other things, koi are judged based on their colors (Hi, Shiroji, and Sumi) and degrees of finish, body size, and steps in the patterns.


Kohaku koi, a popular type of Nishikigoi, are commonly judged by their red Hi pattern and pure white Shiroji scales. Tancho koi are primarily judged based on their Maruten, or round spot on the head, and their white Shiroji quality. Showa koi are judged on the basis of their red Hi patterns, white Shiroji patterns, and black Sumi patterns as a whole.

This living piece of art has received acclaim around the world for its vibrant colors and dynamic body conformation. Koi fish from Japan display refined colors that create an allure all their own. Additionally, they feature strong shine and many different colors from different varieties, each with its own unique glow and charm.

Its graceful swim deepens the appeal of Nishikigoi, especially the grace that comes from a fish with a large body. That is why these large, beautifully colored koi are called "swimming jewels" because they swim gracefully.

It creates a different kind of splendor when these koi fish combine. Herding together one moment and pulling apart the next creates a stunning display of color, grace, and beauty. There is no other aquarium fish like this in the world.

Japanese koi fish are a feast for the eyes whether they're alone or in a pond due to their glamorous colors, magnificent bodies, and elegant swimming.


The True Colors of Nishikigoi?

The koi that swim in the ponds of Hilton Hawaiian Village Hotel and Ala Moana shopping center in Hawaii are red, black, blue, yellow, and various other colors. The name "Nishikigoi" comes from these colors. Nishikigoi's true color should be known to you.

Nishikigoi has different colors due to the pigments that are kept in his skin cells, such as red, black, blue, etc. These pigments can be divided into two groups; red and black. Carotenoid is the red group, while Melanin is the black group. There are about 20 different kinds of carotenoid pigments in fish. However, Nishikigoi only has three kinds, namely Lutein, Zeaxanthin, and Astaxanthin. In order to appear red, these pigments are kept in the koi's skin surface. Koi do not produce these pigments. Koi absorb these pigments from their food and store them in their pigment cells.

In stores, koi are fed color enhancement food (color-up food) to bring out their pigments. However, there are also foods that do not contain color enhancers. These will not enhance the color of your koi. It is important to check the ingredients in koi food before feeding it to your fish. 

 Koi produce a pigment called Melanin. Black is the protective color of koi. Their color varies depending on where they live. They will be pitch-black if they are in a dark place. They will turn grey if they are in a brighter environment. Koi change color instantly based on the environment. However, this only applies to Magoi that live in natural rivers or mud ponds. The black color of Nishikigoi won't change since they are improved varieties.

Have you seen the blue-colored koi at Ala Moana shopping center? They are blue because of the pigment Melanin. How does black pigment create blue color? Do you know why the ocean in Hawaii is blue? The water prism makes the dark color of the bottom of the sea seem blue to your eyes. Koi are the same way. To your eyes, the koi's skin works like a prism to make the black color of Melanin appear blue.


Make Your Pond More Beautiful With Nishikigoi

Nishikigoi are the perfect addition to any pond or water garden. When watching these Nishikigoi intermingle with each other, there is a real thrill.


In my opinion, the mixture of colors is truly magnificent, especially if there is a good blending of varieties and colors. This "ever changing beauty" can be observed in all shapes and sizes, and it is also a great way to appreciate Japanese koi fish.

This picturesque beauty of the Nishikigoi varieties depicts the four seasons of Japan in vivid color thanks to their smooth swims. Keep your Nishikigoi's colors vibrant and healthy by using high quality koi food for colour and growth.