Koi (Magoi)” which is the ancestor of “Nishikigoi” is generally said to have originated
in Persia in Central Asia. However, Koi fossils have been excavated from stratums
of roughly 25 million to 5 million years old in Japan, which means that Koi may have
naturally existed in Japan as well.
”Chronicles of Japan”, a history book completed in 720, states that the Keikou
Emperor (71~) kept Koi in his ponds.
That is to say, in Japan Koi raising dates back more than 1900 years
From Magoi to Nishikigoi
The actual “Nishikigoi” is a mutated form of the edible Koi that was raised in former
Yamakoshi Village (current Nagaoka-shi), Niigata, 200 years ago (1804-1830).
Nishikigoi Peddler in old days
That is to say, the birthplace of Nishikigoi is Yamakoshi Village and Ojiya-shi,
In this mountain-ringed region, the residents raked the mountains and built “rice
terraces” to grow rice and vegetables. Above the “rice terraces” were preserve
ponds to irrigate the terraces. Koi were raised in these ponds for a source of
protein for winter, until one day, these Koi suddenly mutated, and Koi with different
colors and patterns were swimming among the black Koi.
The farmers were amazed by this and made efforts to breed more beautiful and
This “mutated Koi” at first were a diversion only for people in this region, but soon
they were bartered with goods from other regions and came to public attention. As a
result, hobby-like improvements became the Koi farming business, and a broad
range of varieties have been created up to the present date.
The origin of the name “Nishikigoi”
Nishikigoi were born approximately 200 years ago, but at the time they were called
“Irogoi” “Hanagoi”, “Moyogoi, “and “Kawarigoi”.
Nishiki silk fabricAt a Koi show in Takesawa Village (a part of Yamakoshi Village),
Mr. Kei Abe, Director of the Fisheries Agency of Niigata, saw the Taisho Sanshoku
(Sanke) and was struck by their overwhelming beauty. His words were “this is a true
Nishikigoi!”, and this is how Nishikigoi got its name.
”Nishiki” is a silk fabric woven with gold. The word “Nishiki” is used to describe
beautiful and elegant things (for example, “Nishikie”=”Nishiki picture”), and Nishikigoi
certainly is an elegant Koi which deserves that name.
Around 1940, the name “Nishikigoi” became the household word in Japan, and
“NISHIKIGOI” is nowadays used worldwide.