Ornamental nishikigoi (“brocaded” carp) swim serenely around a large tank. Their names highlight their distinctive colors. Red-and-white Kohaku evokes the Hinomaru (Japanese flag). Taisho Sanshoku and Showa Sanshoku feature black, red, and white spots. Yamabuki Kogane shimmers like gold.
Developed in Japan, nishikigoi are a unique type of domesticated koi bred for decorative enjoyment and raised with aquafarming. This culture — which pays meticulous attention to colors and patterns — originated in an old Yamakoshi village in Niigata Prefecture during the 19th century. Nishikigoi were first exhibited at the Tokyo Expo in 1914, sparking popular interest and creation of many varieties that Japanese people know and love.
Recently, sophisticated transportation enables nishikigoi export to overseas countries. Nishikigoi have become status symbols of affluence even among enthusiasts outside Japan, and are gradually spreading around the globe.
Nishikigoi Farm Matsuda is a koi farm that was moved to Nagaoka, Niigata Prefecture, following the Mid Niigata Prefecture Earthquake in 2004. Now recovered from immense damage due to the quake, this farm raises about 40,000 carp. Matsuo Matsuda, a fourth generation nishikigoi farmer, explains that the most important condition for raising nishikigoi is aesthetic appreciation of their beauty.
Prices of nishikigoi vary greatly, depending on patterns, body size, and shape. Low-priced nishikigoi can start from 5,000 yen (approx. USD $48) while expensive ones sometimes cost more than 20 million yen (approx. USD $192,000). Marketable colors and patterns are traditionally fixed in Japan. However, unconventional colors and patterns sometimes become popular outside Japan. Valuable nishikigoi varieties are now diversified.
Note: Exchange rate USD $1 = JP Yen ¥104
Lately, nishikigoi can even be purchased via the Internet. However, the greatest pleasure of nishikigoi shopping is to visit nishikigoi farms and talk to farmers like Mr. Matsuda when purchasing. Of course, knowledge enhances enjoyment of nishikigoi. But sharing the passion of farmers for their nishikigoi deepens your affection for nishikigoi.
Note: Products shown in this article are not available in Mitsukoshi or Isetan.
Matsuda Koi Farm