Before the United States officially existed, she was born. Hanako, a red Koi, was found to be 217 - 226 years old at her death in 1977.
In the last decades of her life, Hanako was cared for by Dr. Komei Koshihara. This is what he said about her in 1966:
"This "Hanako" is still in perfect condition and swimming about majestically in a quiet ravine decending Mt. Ontake in a short distance. ... She and I are dearest friends. When I call her saying "Hanako! Hanako!" from the brink of the pond, she unhesitatingly comes swimming to my feet. If I lightly pat her on the head, she looks quite delighted. Sometimes I go so far as to take her out of the water and embrace her. At one time a person watching asked me whether I was performing a trick with the carp.
Although a fish, she seems to feel that she is dearly loved, and it appears that there is some communication of feeling between us. At present my greatest pleasure is to go to my native place two or three times a month and keep company with "Hanako"."
Koi are Japanese carp which have been bred for many years to display certain colors; they are described as "living jewels". When Koi are purchased, they are looked upon as creatures to be passed from generation to generation. Therefore, the cost of certain Koi can be quite high.
What's the most ever paid for a Koi? The rumor is...$2.2 million. Let's take a look at this lucky fish:
Wait, that's not her...! Here she is:
Why is she worth so much? As you can see, the brilliant orange against her pure white body is striking! Koi are judged on health, size, body shape, purity of their base body color, and the placement and brilliance of their markings...
...from the top.
That's right...Koi live in ponds and are viewed from the top; therefore the upper markings count the most. So a fish with the likeness of Ronald Reagan on its belly isn't going to bring a really high price. :)
So judging from the top...
Meet the 2011 Grand Champion above..."Sea Horse". Do you see the sea horse shape on the head?
The fish we've seen so far are scaleless, but some Koi, like the metallic one below, have some scales placed along the dorsal and sides:
And here there be the Koi Dragons...they're like tiny Killer Whales. I like these the most:
And look at this really cool skeletony one...each scale has a gray center and a silvery rim:
My own family used to keep Koi in the big water troughs our horses drank from. They came to the surface to greet us when we went to fill the troughs. The Koi kept the water clean and grew to be pretty large.
But not that large! Here is a record-sized wild one caught by a fisherman. When wild, they're called carp.
So...have you got a few thousand dollars to spare?
Actually, you can get a nice young Koi for about $10...but for that price, don't go looking for a Mickey Mouse likeness on its head.
Have a Koi? Leave me a comment!
If you are interested in all the varieties of Koi, go here and scroll down for some great information.