Among the most colorful and popular symbols in the art of tattooing is the brightly colored Koi fish splashing in crystal waters. The dynamic tattoo is a very popular design and often depicted in motion fighting a strong current with seemingly by its sheer will.
The koi tattoo is beautiful and mysterious, and is steeped in a rich history that is inherent from its roots which is a parallel of Japanese life. In every sacred temple or place of mediation is traditional koi pond to reflect the Buddhist teaching that included the Koi fish in Chinese lore. It was believed dragons came from any fish that could transverse the currents of the Yellow river and its massively string waterfall. At the base of the waterfall was the mythical Dragon Gate. To enter the Dragon gate against all odds, any humble fish- even the lowly and common carp (koi) could strive to the greatness of a Dragon by sheer will and perseverance. In china the Koi came to symbolize advancement through strength and hard work.
This idealism of the common Koi reaching for powerful goals came to make the Koi fish a symbol of strength, power, and energy. So much so, it is a daily part of life in Japan. On Boy’s Day colorful flags and kites are adorned with bright Koi in a celebration of goals to achieve through mental strength and staying the course through adversity and hardship. It is common to see 4 Koi on large flags in japan to stand for family unity and courage for one another.
Koi fish also are known in Japan for their courage and strength and akin to the ways of the Samurai. When it is caught and put upon the cutting board, it knows it was bested and does not quiver in defeat; it takes its death bravely and with nobility for its fate.