Japan's most famous fish.
Various colors of Koi fascinate us
Nishikigoi is one of Japan’s most famous fish. Gold Koi, Kohaku Koi, Various colors of Koi fascinate us.
Their vivid colors and graceful swimming are so beautiful that some people say they are like “dancing treasure fish”.
If you were born and raised in Japan, you would be hard pressed to find someone how has not seen a Nishikigoii.
However, many people may not know that Nishikigoi is actually a freshwater fish, exactly the same as Koi that can be found in ponds and rivers. In fact, the brightly colored Nishikigoi was accidentally created by genetic mutation from those pitch-black Koi!
Nishikigoi was born in Yamakoshi region of Niigata Prefecture.
Koi is not originally a Japanese fish, but it thought to have originated in what is now Iran, and was brought to Japan for food.
In the area around Yamakoshi and Ojiya (in present day, Nagaoka City) , villagers used to gid side wells and use underground water from the mountains to draw water to the terraced rice fields. In this area, snow piles up in the winter and the cold groundwater from the melting snow flows in the spring. However, cold water is not suitable for rice cultivation.
Therefore, they built a pond at the top of the terraced paddy fields, stored the water there, and waited for the sun to heat it to the right temperature before using it for rice cultivation.
As another use for the reservoirs, started raising Koi for food, which was the beginning of Koi farming in Yamakoshi.
The traditional way of farming in this area was to release the fry in the paddies after the rice planting was finished, and harvest both the Koi and rice in the fall.
Birth of Nishikigoi
The edible Koi suddenly underwent a mutation.
Koi with a colored body was born, and that was the birth of Nishikigoi.
In Yamakoshi, they are called “colored Koi “ and the reason why Nishikigoi became known throughout Japan was because of the “Tokyo Taisho Exposition” held in 1914.Koi from Yamakoshi counties in Niigata Prefecture were exhibited as “Henkagoi(hybrid Koi)”.
The red and white “Kohaku” were especially popular because they had the image of the Japanese national flag.
Since then, impprovements have been made to make the Koi more beautiful, and in addition to Heki Koi, other color such as Kohaku, Asagi, and Bekko have been produced.
Today, it has grown into an industry that represents Yamakoshi.
Growth Procecc of Nishikigoi
Nishikigoi production is mainly in outdoor ponds(reservoirs) and in indoor ponds during the winter.
01: Starts in the spring
Male and Females are moved to spawning ponds to lay egg, and fry are hatched from the eggs. At the time of fry, we sort out the Nishikigoi according to their beautiful colors and body size.
Then the removed Koi are sometimes sold at fairs.
In this way, we produce new fry from late spring to early summer.
02: Summer through Autumn
the fry are released into outdoor ponds to grow Nishikigoi. Again, we sort the fry and leave only the strongest and most beautiful looking Koi.
03: Autumn to early Winter
we pond up the Nishikigoi we have raised. Some of the Koi are entered in competitions held in various places, and the beautifully colored Koi are sold at a high price. We also ship a lot of Nishikigoi overseas during the fall and winter seasons, and we hold Nishikigoi auctions
After that, many of the remaining Nishikigoi are taken away and moved to winter houses because the cold of winter weakens them. The water temperature in the house is maintained at about 18~20 degrees Celsius, and they survive the winter.
Where to Buy?
Access to Bizen Pottery Traditional Industry Hall (Okayama Prefecture)
Near Tokyo , there is a Koi farm called “Kurihara hatchery”.
They produce and sell their own Nishikigoi.
They mainly sell their own Nishikigoi, but also from various unique breedinglines.
If you really want to buy, the farm will introduce you to the buyer they know.