Goldfish (Kingo in Japanese) was a few of first fish species that were kept in ponds by humans. Goldfish are omnivorous and average 10 years to live. The sizes vary from a quarter of inch to a foot.  It has been bred in China for many centuries and has been very popular in aquariums (public or small versions in home) as well as in ponds.

One of the very popular goldfish. image credit:

Goldfish in a fish bowl called "Kingo-bachi"

Traditional Japanese gardens have a pond or two as a part of landscape and there you can expect to see colorful Koi carp, a close relative of those common goldfish. Nothing can stop passionate breeders to create even more unusual types of them beyond Koi.
Goldfish was first introduced to Japan in 1502 from China. The early versions of them are quite expensive that only be owned the wealthy class. At the end of Muromachi period (1392 – 1573) through Meiji period (1868-1912), progressive breeding has been done and we now hove more than 100 varieties. Although there are so many varieties have been obtained, they genetically are the same fish even they don’t look like to each other at all. And even though they are the same fish, their appearance is significantly different, especially the tails.


After being bred for centuries, now wide varieties of affordable ones are available for us. There are many small summer festivals throughout Japan in the summer and Kingo-sukui (goldfish scooping) is one of the main attractions for children to scoop goldfish in the water with a spoon made from the same material as ice cream corn or a thin paper. Yes, it melts in the water so you have to be extremely focused and quick. If you are lucky, you will be able to scoop one before the spoon rips.

We have utilized goldfish in many parts of our lives from fabrics to dishes.

Very popular to use for Youkata (summer cotton kimono) fabric. Goldfish symbolizes summer in Japan because of Kingo-sukui (goldfish scooping) in summer.

Goldfish in a large flower pot. This type of design was originated in China.

One of the most popular ways to use goldfish design is in papers. Showing are postcards made from Washi (Japanese paper).

Necklace made from natural stones. Made by a local artist in Fukushima. I purchased this when I went to a museum near a coast line in Japan a few years back.

You might be interested in stitching goldfish by now.         Studio Aika can offer you a Sashiko Sampler in goldfish design. The sample here is what I stitched in 2 colors.

SC-0039   Goldfish Sashiko Sampler

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