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Niigata Nishikigoi (Colored Carp)

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1 History of the Nishikigoi (Colored Carp)

 The nishikigoi, or colored carp, was born in the central part of Niigata, in Nijumurago, Koshigun, or modern Ojiya-shi and a part of Nagaoka City. It is said that they originated around 200 years ago (in the Edo Period) when black carp that had undergone a mutation were bred for beauty rather than as food. After that, in the Taisho era (1912-1926), new breeds such as the Kohaku (red and white) and the Taisho Sanshoku were introduced, and in the beginning of the Showa era (1926-1989), the Showa Sanshoku was introduced. Currently there are over 80 different types of nishikigoi.

 The nishikigoi was shown under the name “Echigo’s Unique Koi” at the 1914 Tokyo Taisho Exposition (a World Fair held in Ueno)  and spread from there across the country. In 1938 (Showa 13) they were also shown at a fair in America and received great praise.

 However, the breeders were hit hard and the number of them were decreased by the results of World War Ii, Starting over with a small number of nishikigoi, they revived the species, and in 1965 (Showa 40) the nishikigoi boom began. In recent years, the species has spread to Europe, North America, and mainland Asia. Niigata boasts one of the cultural assets for which Japan is known, and the number of people around the world who love the “swimming work of art” is growing.

Three Species Representative of Nishikigoi

紅白(こうはく)の画像
Kohaku

Kohaku:A Kohaku has white base with a red pattern, this is the most popular colored carp and has the most basic features.

大正三色(たいしょうさんけ)の画像
Taisho Sanshoku

Taisho Sanshoku: The Taisho Sanshoku has a white base with a red and black pattern. The name nishikigoi was given to the fish after this breed was created. It is very exemplary of nishikigoi.

昭和三色(しょうわさんしょく)の画像
Showa Sanshoku

Showa Sanshoku: The Showa Sanshoku features a black base with a red and white pattern. The black patterns at the base of its pectoral fins is considered the most fundamental part of its appearance.

2 Colored Carp Facts

There is a saying in Japanese that cranes live for one thousand years, and turtles for ten thousand. What about carp?

 Most carp live for between twenty and thirty years, but it’s said that some carp have lived for over 100 years with the right environment.

 In some places in Japan, people have traditionally eaten carp during New Years, weddings, and other celebrations for many years, a tradition which may come from the carp’s long lifespan.

Nishikigoi are the World’s Elite

 A single nishikigoi may give birth to several hundreds of thousands young, but of them, only about 0.5% will go on to be shown for their colors or patterns. The ones who are selected for this can be said to be a kind of “swimming work of art”.

3 For inquries:

  • If you would like to learn more about nishikigoi (for example, about varieties, how they are raised, lineage, history, or find links to other information):
  • For inquiries regarding the purchase of nishikigoi:
    • All Japan Nishikigoi Promotion Association Homepage Tel:0258-82-7500
    • Niigata Nishikigoi Conference Tel:0258-41-1405
    • Fishery Cooperative of Ojiya City Nishikigoi  Tel:0258-41-1405
  • For information regarding breeding, illness, or other types of specialty skills:
    新潟県内水面水産試験場(Inland Water Fisheries Experiment Station)

 

For inquiries regarding this page:

Fisheries Division, Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries
Inland Water Section
Niigata Prefectural Government Office 9th Floor
Shinko-cho 4-1, Chuo-ku, Niigata-shi, Niigata, 950-8570 Tel:025-280-5315

 

 

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