Koi Fish and It’s Meaning, Symbolism and Variety

Koi Fish and It’s Meaning, Symbolism and Variety

In Japanese Culture The Koi Fish Or Carp Is Thought To Be One Of The Most Vital Fishes. This Is Because It Is Always Going From One Place To The Next And Doesn’t Stop Swimming, Often Moving The Water.

The Koi fish is pure perseverance – Koi swimming upstream can be interpreted as showing perseverance because of the fact that the Koi does not “go with the flow”. This can show a person how to be strong in the face of adversity and develop strength of character or purpose. The Carp can also represents wisdom, knowledge, longevity, and loyalty.
Strength in time of adversity – Koi fish also symbolizes persistence and the willingness to go on even though it is being swept away. It also symbolizes surpassing obstacles. The Koi fish swimming upriver can show how to overcome various obstacles and how come win victory over outside influences.
The Japanese Koi fish – Koi fish, or “colorful carp”), are ornamental domesticated varieties of the common carp. Koi in Japanese tattooing plays an important role in both Chinese and Japanese myths, legends, and stories. In many of the Japanese and Chinese stories, Koi are transformed through their efforts and perseverance, able to climb waterfalls or become dragons. The Koi as a symbol that represents perseverance in the face of adversity and strength of character or purpose. The Carp can also represents wisdom, knowledge, longevity, and loyalty.
In the short story Koi-san by Mukoda Kuniko. it is said that the koi means love and friendship.

Koi Varieties

Kohaku is part of the Gosanke class and has a red pattern on a white back ground. It has been said that Koi keeping begins and ends with the Kohaku. Kohaku, Taisho Sanshoku and Showa Sanshoku are the most popular varieties and are sometimes referred to as the “Big 3″.

koi kohaku_

Taisho Sanshoku:
Taisho Sanshoku is a Koi with relatively spotted Sumi (black) on Kohaku pattern. Because the variety was created in the era of Taisho in Japan, it is called “Taisho Sanshoku.” In short, it is also called “Taisho Sanke” or “Sanke.”


Showa Sanshoku:

Showa Sanshoku is a Koi with calligraphic Sumi pattern on Kohaku. It is called Showa because the variety was created in the era of Showa in Japan. In short, it is called “Showa Sanshoku” or “Showa”.

koi showa sanshoku

Utsuri mono:
Utsuri mono indicates varieties with calligraphic pattern on one solid ground such as Shiro Utsuri Hi Utsuri, and Ki Utsuri.

utsuri_1 utsuri_2 utsuri_3

Shiro Bekko is Taisho Sanshoku (Sanke) with no Hi (red) pattern. Aka Bekko body is covered with Hi and Ki Bekko body is yellow. Good specimens are far and few between.

bekko_1 bekko_2 bekko_3

Asagi is one of the oldest varieties of Nishikigoi. Its back color  can be pale blue, indigo or navy blue with a net like appearance to the scales.  Red or a deep orange is the color for the fins and below the lateral line. Although not always favorable Hi Asagi (red has risen onto the back) can have a striking appearance.


Shusui are the doitsu version of Asagi. They have dark blue scales running from the shoulder to the tail section. Just like its ancestor the Shusui may have different variables, like Hana or Hi Shusui.

shusui_2 shusui_3shusui_1

The Koromo category consists of Ai Goromo and Budo Goromo. Koromo translates to “clothed” or “robed”. On a white base the Ai Goromo has blue scale reticulation within the red scales. On the Budo Goromo the two colors red and blue have blended to give a purple color and can look like patches of grapes. There is also Sumi Goromo.

koromo_1 koromo_2

Goshiki come in a dark (old style) or light (new style) grayish background and a Kohaku Style Beni (red) pattern. This gives a three dimensional look. Asagi scale influence may be set within the Beni. Goshiki means “five colors” with the white, red and black of Sanke then of the navy and blue of Asagi.

goshiki_1 goshiki_2

Hikari Utsuri:
Hikari Utsuri
Kin Showa, Gin Shiro Utsuri and Kin Ki Utsuri are in this category. They are metallic versions of Showa Sanshoku, Shiro Utsuri and Ki Utsuri.

hikari_utsuri_1 hikari_utsuri_2 hikari_utsuri_3

Hikari Muji:
Hikari Muji consists of Nishikigoi with a solid color (no pattern) metallic sheen. Yamabuki and Platinum Ogon seem to be the most popular. Kin and Gin Matsuba are also in this category.

hikari_utsuri_1 hikari_utsuri_2 hikari_utsuri_3 hikari_muji_4

Hikari Moyo:
In this category are metallic koi that do not fit into Hikari Utsuri or Hikari Muji such as Kujaku (“Peacock”) Kikusui and Yamato Nishiki (metallic Sanke).

hikari_moyo_1 hikari_moyo_2 hikari_moyo_3

Kumonryu / Kikokuryu:
Kumonryu is a doitsu koi with unstable Sumi (black) that will disappear and reappear with changes in water temperature this is the same for the Beni Kumonryu. Kikokuryu and Kin or Beni Kikokuryu are the metallic versions of the Kumonryu.

kumonryu_kikokuryu_1 kumonryu_kikokuryu_2 kumonryu_kikokuryu_3 kumonryu_kikokuryu_4

This category has many recognized varieties that do not fit into the other categories. Chagoi, Benigoi, Kigoi and Ochiba seem to be popular Kawarigoi.

kawarigoi_1 kawarigoi_2 kawarigoi_3 kawarigoi_4

Tancho Kohaku, Sanke and Showa have only a red dot or “crest” on their heads. The Tancho Kohaku is adored by the Japanese citizens as it is reminiscent of the Japanese flag that has a white background with a red sun.

tancho_1 tancho_2 tancho_3


What are your thoughts?