National Koi Day

By Sharon Schweitzer


National Koi Day celebrates the Japanese Koi fish and brings attention to the exotic beauty of the fish. As a symbol of courage, patience, perseverance, and strength, the Koi fish has been celebrated in the Japanese culture for centuries.

The word “koi” comes from nishiki-goi, which means colored carp. Some say the translation also means “love.” Either way, the Koi fish is a variety of Amur carp specifically bred for water gardens. Historically, records indicate breeding began in Niiggata, Japan, around the 19th century. Today, identification of the Koi fish depends on the hues and patterns of the color of the fish. The most common colors of the Koi fish are white, red, orange, yellow, blue, and black.

In ancient Japan, there were 4 treasures Kin(gold), Gin(silver), Sango(Coral), and Aya Nishiki(figured brocade), and it is said that the name “Nishiki-goi” is named after “Aya-Nishiki”. Nishikigoi is also commonly likened to the multi-colored brocade patterns of the Japanese traditional woven silk fabric, “kimono,” known for its vivid yet delicate colors and striking beauty.

It is uncertain who the creator of National Koi Day was, but it is known that the July 7th date was chosen as a memorial date for Hanako, the world’s oldest Koi fish. Hanako is the oldest documented Koi fish in the world. She was born in 1751 but sadly died July 7, 1977 (7-7-77). 

Koi fish are highly intelligent fish that also show affection, especially to their owners. They are known to interact with the people around them by displaying patterns of excitement when they “see” people they recognize. In fact, many Koi fish tend to get excited and swim rapidly when their owners are near. Owners can teach their Koi fish to do tricks, like stick their head out of the water during feeding time. However, Koi fish do carry some bacteria that can cause infections in humans. 

There are more than 100 different types of Koi, each with its own unique color and scale pattern. New varieties are still being selectively bred to this day. In the wild and in spacious ponds, Koi have been known to grow up to three feet long! Their size can be a testament to their health and the quality of their environment. The diet of Koi changes with the seasons. In warm weather, they need more protein to grow, while in cooler months, their metabolism slows and they eat less. If you are planning to purchase Koi fish, it’s important to learn about the fish before you buy.


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Sharon Schweitzer JD, is a diversity and inclusion consultant, cross-cultural trainer, etiquette expert, and the founder of Access to Culture. In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management from the HOFSTEDE Centre, she is an attorney and mediator. Sharon served as a Chinese Ceremonial Dining Etiquette Specialist in the documentary series Confucius was a Foodie, on Nat Geo People. Her Amazon #1 Best Selling book in International Business,  Access to Asia: Your Multicultural Business Guide, won a coveted Kirkus Star, and was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books. She’s a winner of numerous awards, including the British Airways International Trade Award at the Greater Austin Business Awards.

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