Know Your Koi

koi-fishKoi, or more specifically nishikigoi, are ornamental varieties of domesticated common carp that are kept for decorative purposes in outdoor koi ponds or water gardens.

Koi varieties are distinguished by coloration, patterning, and scalation. Some of the major colors are white, black, red, yellow, blue, and cream.

The word koi comes from Japanese, simply meaning “carp.” It includes both the dull grey fish and the brightly colored varieties. What are known as koi in English are referred to more specifically as nishikigoi in Japan (literally meaning “brocaded carp”).

In Japanese, koi is a homophone for another word that means “affection” or “love”; koi are therefore symbols of love and friendship in Japan. The koi is also an often recurring symbol in Irezumi, the Japanese art of traditional tattooing.