Fossils of ancient carp date back 20 million years. First introduced to Japan by way of China, river carp were originally a food source and part of a staple Japanese diet, until, in the early 1800s, some Japanese farmers began selecting the ones with some colour and breeding them purely for aesthetics.
KOI are now the National FISH of Japan but are coveted and collected by hobbyists around the world!
An ancient tale tells of a huge school of golden koi swimming upstream the Yellow River in China. Gaining strength by fighting against the current, the school glimmered as they swam together through the river. When they reached a waterfall at the end of the river, many of the koi turned back, letting the flow of the river carry them away.
The remaining koi refused to give up.
Leaping from the depths of the river, they attempted to reach the top of the waterfall to no avail. Their efforts caught the attention of local demons, who mocked their efforts and heightened the waterfall out of malice. After a hundred years of jumping, one koi finally reached the top of the waterfall. The gods recognized the koi for its perseverance and determination and turned it into a golden dragon, the image of power and strength.
SYMBOLISM AND MEANING
Koi fish are associated with positive imagery. Because of the dragon legend, they are known as symbols of strength and perseverance, as seen in their determinative struggle upstream. And because of the lone koi that made it to the top of the waterfall, they are also known as symbols of a destiny fulfilled. Resulting from its bravery in swimming upstream, the koi is often times associated with Samurai Warriors in Japan.