Tag Archives: koi

Koto Jazz 72: Koi (carp) & Nishikigoi (colored carp)

Here is a mini garden with a good mix of color combinations, land and sea image to create a balanced look and feel.

The highlight of this garden of course is the flowing carp swimming in the foreground.

The word ‘koi’ literally means carp, but also describes wild varieties of the common carp fish. Carp are a very hardy species and can withstand long travel. Around 1000 years ago, the carp made it’s way into Japan via China. Keeping koi was most popular with Japanese farmers who kept them as a source of food.

Sometime in the 1800s koi were kept in a closed breeding area to create colorful variations by the mutations over time. Out of personal interest, these new colored varieties were bred further and maintained as a hobby rather than as the traditional food source. These new ‘colored’ koi were called Nishikigoi.

The creation of these beautiful color variations in the early 1900s, brought about an explosion of koi caring as a hobby in Japan, and then worldwide. The Japanese turned the artistic form into a science. Japan is recognized today as the best koi breeders, today boasting as many as 13 color varieties!

You may source the koi symbol from Chinese legend about a carp that successfully swam to the top of a large waterfall on Yellow River became a dragon. Thus, koi symbolizes power and bravery, and overcoming adversity. The koi and Samurai have been a symbols of bravery for similar reasons. Like the Samurai facing death by the sword, the koi likewise, lies still beneath the knife.

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KotoJazz 11: Koi NoBori & Koi

To commemorate Japan’s Children’s Day or Kodomo no Hi, I play a jazzed up version of this non-koto but traditional Japanese piece called “Koi NoBori”, which means carp “streamer”. A short sample of “Koi NoBori” will be available for your listening shortly in the “sample sounds” page of this site. The Koi NoBori represents Children’s Day in Japan and is one of the most celebrated holidays of the entire year.

Since 1948, this holiday has celebrated children’s personalities, the happiness of all children and gratitude for mothers. Originally Tango no Sekku, it was celebrated by all of East Asia on the fifth day of the moon based on the Chinese lunar calendar.

The koi represents love and friendship in Japan, perseverance and faithfulness in relationships, especially romantic relationships. In China, where the koi originated, the koi represents masculinity, courage, individualism, determination, longevity, and perseverance. One of the most revered images or symbols of China, the dragon, is believed to have been transformed from a koi. This legendary koi had successfully navigated upstream to the top of a mountain where it was transformed into a dragon, according to ancient Chinese folklore.

The carp serves an ornamental function in Japanese gardens. They are kept in outdoor koi ponds and Japanese gardens for decorative purposes.

The Koi symbolizes lessons or trials we encounter in our own life’s journey. It symbolizes our own perseverance of enduring life’s struggles, which often call us to swim against the currents of our time and travel upstream. When you see a koi or connect with a fish in its wildlife place of residence, pay homage to its enduring serenity and perserverence, and honor its place in our lives. On one of the most time honored national holidays in Japan, Kodomo no Hi (Children’s Day) raises up the carp streamers or “koi nobori” as a reminder of characteristics we seek to pass on to our own children, the child within each of us, and what the koi symbolizes or represents.

Songs about koi and matsuri(s) include:

Other:

Children’s Day is preceded in March 3rd with Hina Matsuri, which celebrates girl’s day or dolls day. The historical significance of the dolls are the hina- nagashi (floating spirits). The dolls are floating spirits floated down stream to the open sea taking troubles and bad spirits with them. Today, imagine for ourselves in our own lives and perhaps practice this time honored ritual in Japan, and place the troubles of our day and all bad spirits in our lives in a small boat and watch it float downstream and carry away. “We will be healed.”