The koi tattoo is based on the fish by the same name which is generally quite popular in Japan. Today, the western world has adopted the tattoo with full acclaim and is using them to project different parts of their personality. Although, the koi has been interpreted as a Japanese fish, it is interesting to note that the fish has Chinese origins.
Over the years, koi has passed into Japanese culture and now we feel privileged to be a part of this tradition when we get ourselves inked with this tattoo. But it is exciting when you notice the evolution of the koi and the integration of various colors in its design.There have been several interpretations of the koi tattoo and most of them are related to mythology and symbolism. It depicts how you can overcome extreme adversity with courage and determination.
This in fact, comes from the story that the koi fish which can swim upstream and thus face adversity will be rewarded by becoming a dragon, which is a symbol of power and dominance. Some people also try to grab Lady Luck by carving these tattoos on their bodies. The golden carp is a special carrier of luck and is worn proudly by many people who are superstitious.
Meanings and Symbolism Behind Koi Fish Tattoos
Koi are considered a manly symbol, especially after it was appropriated by the Boys’ Day Festival in Japan. According to legend, the koi climb the waterfall bravely, and if they are caught, they face their death on the cutting board bravely like samuri. Other Japanese meanings include perseverance and strength. In China, it is believed that if the koi succeeded in climbing to “Dragon Gate” on the Yellow River, the koi will be transformed into dragons. Due to this Chinese legend, koi are considered a symbol of advancement and aspiration.
When used in tattoos, especially with running water, the koi is meant to symbolize courage and the ability to attain goals and to overcome life’s difficulties. When the koi in the tattoo is shown swimming upstream, it can be used to mean that the tattooee is still struggling with his problem, whereas a koi swimming downstream implies that the tattooee has already overcome his difficulty. In other cases, the koi swimming downstream can represent the season of fall, and the koi swimming upstream can represent the spring.