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トップ > English > Past and Present: The History of Goldfish

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Past and Present: The History of Goldfish

The history of goldfish begins with the red species found among a group of wild “funa” also known as Crucian Carp, in the southern district of China some 2,000 years ago. These red ancestors have developed into the goldfish we are familiar with today through selective breeding over the centuries.
It is generally believed that goldfish were introduced to Japan from China in 1502, during the middle of Muromachi period. However, in those days, they were exclusively kept by the aristocrats and the wealthy as rare pets. It was not until the Meiji period, after the Edo military government was brought to end, that they became popular among common people.

The history of goldfish cultivation in Yamatokoriyama City is said to date back to 1724 when Lord Yanagisawa Yoshisato entered Yamatokoriyama domain from the realm of Kai (present Yamanashi prefecture). Goldfish cultivation became a side job for clansmen and samurai around the end of the Edo period, and gradually developed into a thriving side business for jobless samurai and farmers after the Meiji Restoration. Of course, behind this prosperity there was the unstinting aid of Lord Yanagisawa Yasunobu, the last lord of Yamatokoriyama domain.

Besides the historical background mentioned above, Yamatokoriyama has been blessed with favorable conditions for goldfish cultivation, having abundant farm ponds that provide a good water supply and high quality water that is also suitable for water fleas (daphnia) the live food for goldfish fries.

Due to rapid economic growth and the progress of fish farming methods in the 60’s and early 70’s, the production rate of goldfish has increased annually, resulting in expansion of the market to foreign nations including western countries and Southeastern Asia. Although production increase has dropped recently due to environmental damage such as water pollution caused by urbanization, Yamatokoriyama still has nearly 60 goldfish farms with approximately 90ha in land size. Koriyama sells about 70 million goldfish and 300 thousand colored carp a year.

Every year around early April, when the season of fully bloomed cherry blossoms arrives, a goldfish exhibition is held at Yanagisawa Shrine. This shrine has been deeply associated with goldfish. The show draws not only the residents of the city, but also goldfish admirers from nearby areas.