Ojiya City Koi
Ojiya City, The Birthplace of Japan's Legendary Koi Fish
Located in the mountainous southern end of Niigata Prefecture is the small city of Ojiya, the birthplace and global mecca for the iconic colorful koi fish of Japan known as Nishikigoi. Started as a hobby during the long harsh winter months that locked people into their small communities, the practice of breeding these living works of art dates back to the Meiji Era (1868-1912). From its humble origins this continued to evolve into a source of secondary income until maturing into a massive industry where a single koi fish sold by these breeders can soar well above 10,000 dollars for a single fish.
With up to 80-90% of these prized fish bound for overseas collectors, this city is a hotspot for koi buyers with many of the farms here offering special tours for guests. Read on the learn about Ojiya City’s legacy as well as the special koi farm tours that we offer in conjunction with our local partners in this region.
Ojiya City can be reached via local trains at Ojiya Station.
It can be reached by first traveling to Nagaoka Station and then riding the Joetsu Line to Ojiya Station.
The Origins of Koi in Ojiya
With a population of around 34,000 people, Ojiya is a small community with many of its residents nestled in small communities surrounded by high mountains with farming historically being one of the main forms of industry.
Stemming from its long winters, the farmers of this region raised koi as a source of food and later cared for these fish as pets as they waited for the spring to come. Black in color, this species of carp called the Amur Carp (common carp) would occasionally be born with mutations of white, orange, red, metallic, blue or other shades of color that intrigued these farmers.
Normally a detriment in the wild that would increase the chances of being spotted and eaten by birds or animals, these beautiful colors began to be intentionally bred to bring our new designs and patterns. Much in the same way of breeding other animals like dogs, breeders became so skilled at these processes that they began to be able to form specific types of these koi that would give birth to over 120 varieties of these prized fish.
With 6 different color cells in their skin and at different depths, the potential for variation for these fish is limitless.
Bred for both size and with specific desired colors and patterns, the koi breeding industry in Ojiya City is built off of the expertise and knowledge of local koi farmers that has accumulated over many generations and have developed unique techniques for breeding and raising the fish. This industry and expertise continues to thrive to this day, Ojiya City is home to a vast number of koi breeding farms and is a popular destination for koi enthusiasts from all over the world.
This industry has put this small town on the map for many extremely wealthy travelers and buyers who often make the journey to Japan to specifically visit Ojiya and pick out their own fish. Buyers can tour the farms, meet the breeders, learn about the history and culture of koi breeding, and even about specific details of the fish they wish to buy.
But be warned, they will not tell you the price of any specific koi unless they truly sense you are serious about buying!
Koi Farm Tours in Ojiya
In collaboration with local tour guides and the koi farmers of Ojiya City, we are happy to arrange visits to the koi farms of Niigata to give guests and up close look at these prized fish even if you are not looking to buy koi.
This is with a special arrangement with these locals specialist guides who can arrange time to meet famous breeders of Niigata and see these prized fish up close and personal in their breeding pools and even out in the ponds in the mountains during the summer months.
Take a look at a pre-made tour package that visits some of the koi farms in this region here, or please contact us below to inquire about a koi farm tour in Ojiya.