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Japan’s Obsession with Koi (Carp)

Ewa Nowogorski

As an island nation surrounded by the sea and marine life, it’s quite understandable to see why Japanese people love fish so much. Goldfish and guppies are a go-to for aquarium keepers, but people with a little more land and space for a garden pond often invest in koi fish to stock them.

Koi are actually one of the most popular pets in Japan, and they can come in a variety of colors ranging from white, black, red, orange, yellow, blue, and cream. Their colorfulness and vibrancy make them an excellent pet in any backyard pond. And not only are they beautiful, but they are also extremely hardy, able to survive in many climates and brackish waters.

Koi are almost seen as a symbol of Japan, but they are actually not native to this country. Their history brings them back to east Asia and central Europe, but their hardiness allowed them to be easily propagated in Japan. Traditional carp are brown and gray, but colored variations of these fish started being developed in Japan in the 1820s, and since have gained worldwide reputation. Koi are easy to care for, and can live for 25-35 years in captivity. They can grow to be quite large, and will brighten up any pond. Japanese koi breeders are still actively creating new varieties of koi, and the business is likely to continue to grow. I think koi reflect the Japanese ideals beauty and nature quite perfectly.

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