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Japanese Koi Tattoos
Although Japanese koi originated in China, they didn't stay put there. In fact, they wouldn't enjoy their heyday until much later. It wasn't until the 1820s that common carp were bred for color in Japan. By the time the twentieth century rolled around, there were many stunning color combinations available for Japanese koi tattoos.
As a result, they became very popular as Japanese koi among the wealthy and the elite, who used them to populate ponds, fountains and other decorative things. It's easy to see why Japanese koi tattoos became so popular - after all, you can't miss them! As they laze about in a pond, koi are definite standouts.
Incredibly, most of the rest of the world remained ignorant of the existence of koi - at least when it came to the brightly-colored fish that are so ubiquitous today. All of that changed around the mid-1910s, when exquisite examples of the fish were put on display during an exposition in Tokyo.
Suddenly, everyone in Japan had to have a koi tattoo in their body art. In turn, the rest of the world began learning about koi and the hobby picked up some serious steam. Now, you can find koi in hotel lobbies and other run-of-the-mill places.
The Symbolism of Koi Tattoos
One of the reasons for the persisting popularity of koi tattoo designs is all of the symbolism that is associated with them. In Japanese, the word "koi" is a homophone for a word that roughly means "love" or "affection." As a result, uttering the word "koi" brings thoughts of love and friendship to people's minds in that country.
It's not surprising, then, that koi body art have been associated with those ideals for some time. In fact, it would make perfect sense for two friends to have matching koi tattoos, since these beautiful fish have such lovely symbolism and meaning.
Friendship and affection aren't the only two ideals that are associated with koi, though. In Japan, koi are closely associated with manliness and machismo, too.
This may seem strange, but it does make sense. After all, carp are known for their persistence, strength and resilience. There is an ancient Chinese legend that says that carp who can swim up a particular waterfall on the Yellow River turn into dragons. Therefore, adventure is closely tied together with the idea of carp, as is aspiration.
Another idea that many people associate with tattoos of koi is bravery. In Japan, many people believe that koi will lay on a cutting board and willingly be cut to pieces - all without flinching or showing any fear. Granted, koi are fish - when was the last time you saw a fish freak out about anything, or show any genuine fear?