Ago hi – (ah go HE) The hi markings on the cheeks of Asagi or Shusui.

Ago Sumi – (ah go SOO me) Sumi (black) on gills.

Ai – (eye) Blue or indigo color.

Aigoromo – (eye go ROW mow) A Goromo (Koromo) koi with blue or indigo reticulation. Basically a Kohaku whose red scales have blue semicircular borders, giving the koi a reticulated pattern.

Ai Showa – (eye SHOW wah) A Showa koi with blue or indigo speckles.

Aizumi — (eye ZOO me) ‘Blue’ sumi tinged with indigo (blue).

Aka — (AH kah) Entire red body. Usually as a base color over the body of a Koi, red from orange.

Aka Bekko — (AH kah BEH koh) A red koi with black markings.

Aka Hajiro — (AH ka ha JEE row) A red koi with white tips to the pectoral and caudal fins.

Aka hana — (AH kah HAH nah) Red nose.

Aka Matsuba — (AH kah maht SOO bah) A red koi with a black ‘pine-cone’ pattern in the scales along the back.

Aka Sanke — (AH kah SAHN keh) Hi (red) covers almost entire head and body.

Akamuji or Aka Muji — (AH kah MOO jee) Light red koi.

Akame — (AH kah may) An eye with a red iris. Most often seen in Kigoi.

Akebi – (ah KEH bee) Light blue.

Aizumi – (ah ZOO mee) Blue sumi i.e. tinged with indigo (high quality).

Albino – (Al BY no) A strain usually demonstrated by red eyes.

All Japan Nishikigoi Show — by Zen Nippon Airinkai (ZNA) – Japan’s largest and most respected koi show – respected world wide.

Ami — (ah ME) Net.

Amime — (ah ME meh) Mesh or ‘eyes’ of scales in a net pattern.

Aragoke — (ah rah GO keh) Large armour scales.

Arashi Kumo — (ah RAH shee KOO moh) Translates into “Storm Clouds”. This term describes a “storm cloud” like black pattern. It is a mix of sumi, kage sumi (shadow) and white that all work together to create the “storm cloud” effect.

Asagi — (ah SAH gee) A gray-blue reticulated scaled koi with hi (red) along the lateral lines, cheeks and in the fins.

Asagi Hi — (ah SAH gee HEE) Secondary, undesirable hi (red) appearing as freckles below the lateral line.

Asagi Magoi — (ah SAH gee MAH goy) An early ancestor of the modern Asagi.

Asagi Suminagashi — (ah SAH gee SOO mee na GOSH hee) A Koi whose black scales are outlined in white. More commonly known as Suminagashi. (Kawarimono).

Atama ga hageru — (ah TAH mah gah HAH geh roo) Clearness of head, clean, clear head.

Atama — (ah TAH mah) Head crown.

Ato — (AH toh) Late appearing (i.e. referring to sumi; ato sumi).

Ato sumi — (AH toh soo mee) Late developing black markings.



Barbels — Koi possess two pairs of barbels, one on each side of their mouth used to locate food.

Bekko — (BEH koh) Single solid color of white, red or yellow koi with black markings.

Beni — (BEN ee) Describes deep solid red.

Beni Haijiro— (BEN ee HA JEER row) Red koi with white tips on its pectoral fins (Kawarimono).

Beni Kujaku — (BEN ee koo JAH koo) An orange-red Kujaku with red markings all over the body (Hikari Moyomono).

Beni Kumonryu — (BEN ee koo mahn droo) Kumonryu with red markings.

Benigoi — (BEN ee goy) A non metallic red koi, resembling Akamuji but with a deeper red coloration (Kawarimono).

Beret Hi — (BEH reh HEE) Asymmetrical head hi (red) on one side only.

Beta-gin — (BEH tah deen) The finest type of Kinginrin (gin rin), where the whole surface of each scale sparkles.

Bire — (BEE reh) ‘Fire’, a name used for the specific red patterning on Asagi and Shusui.

Bito — Love

Boke — (BOH kee) Undeveloped Showa sumi. Blurred or faded effect to color or pattern.

Boke Showa — (BOH kee SHOW wah) A popular form of Showa, with blurred, grayish sumi – netting sumi.

Bongiri — (Bohn GEE ree) The head hi does not come far enough towards the nose. An area without pattern near the tail joint, considered a flaw.

Bozu — (boh ZOO) No hi on the head, bald head.

Bu — (boo) Size division.

Budo — (BOO doh) Literally ‘grape.’ Arrangement of colored scales resembling a bunch of grapes.

Budo Goromo — (BOO doh go ROW mow) A koi with a purplish, grape like pattern or patterns on its white body over the red (Koromo).

Budo Sanke — (BOO doh SAHN keh) A koi with a pattern resembling that of Budo Goromo combined with solid black markings.

Bunka Sanke — (BOON ka SAHN keh) A blue Sanke with shiny pectoral fins, Seen only as a baby koi (Kawarimono).



Carotene — Nutrient responsible for the red colour in Koi. Nishikigoi absorb carotene as a nutrient in order to live. When the carotene stays in the fat of the body surface it appears as a red stain. Because Shiro Utsuri don’t have any red in their patterns carotene fed to this variety can cause red staining to appear.

Cha — (chah) Brown.

Chagoi — (CHAH goy) Non metallic light brown or tea colored koi (Kawarimono).

Chigyo — (CHEEG yoh) Unsorted fry.

Chobo Sumi — Dark spot found on the heads of young fish that is caused by the thin transparent skin at the location. The area appears dark because you are looking through the skin at the skull. Pure white skin on the nose that has a transparent effect shows potential for the clean, white skin desired in the mature koi’s head.

Chupa — (CHOO pah) Medium quality fish.

Caudal fin — (KAH dal) Tail fin.



Dagoi — (DAH goy) Poor quality fish.

Dainichi — (dye NEE chee) Famous Go-Sanke lineage of koi.

Dangra — (dahn GAH rah) A stepped pattern on the body of a koi, also known as Danmoyo.

Danmoyo — (dahn MOW yow) Step pattern. Independent Hi plates that form steps that are counted as ‘first step’, ‘second step’, ‘third step’ etc. The count starts from the head and proceeds towards the tail.

Dia — (Die-Ya) Diamond.

Diamond Ginrin — A form of Kinginrin where the scales sparkle like diamonds.

Do Zumi — (doh ZOO mee) Sumi on the body.

Doh — (doh) Trunk, or body.

Doh Hi — (doh hee) Hi on the body.

Doh Sumi — Trunk Sumi. It often indicates large Sumi that wraps down past the lateral line of Showa Sanshoku.

Doh Zumi — (doh zoo mee) Sumi on the body.

Dohmaki — Pattern extending below the lateral line.

Doka Sumi — Large Sumi. Also called Oh Sumi. Large in this case references to Sumi that appears in large patches, not necessarily that the Koi is covered in Sumi.

Doitsu — (DOYT zoo) German koi that are not fully scaled, usually with a row of large mirror scales along each lateral line and a row on either side of the dorsal fin. The mirror and leather carp were imported to Japan from Germany and bred to the Japanese Koi to get these varieties.

Doitsu Kujaku — (DOYT zoo koo JAH koo) A platinum koi with red markings over its body and black markings in the scales along the dorsal and lateral lines only (Hikari Moyomono).

Doitsu Yamato Nishiki — (DOYT zoo YAH mah toh nee SHEE kee) A scaleless metallic Taisho Sanshoku (Sanke). Also known as Heisie Nishiki (Hay say nee SHEE kee).

Doitsu Yotsushiro— (DOYT zoo YOT soo SHEE roh) Origin of Kumonryu; Yotsa means 4, Shiro means white. Doitsu Yotsushiro is a Doitsu koi with 4 patches of white: nose, tail, and both pectoral fins.

Doroike Mud Pond — Pond dug into the mud used to grow Nishikigoi. The mud has abundant natural minerals due to the snow melt that refills the mud ponds every spring. Because of the large area of the pond Nishikigoi can exercise more. Hobbyists release Koi to a mud pond to promote health and increase growth from spring to autumn. Koi are rarely kept in mud ponds over the winter because they cannot be fed under the ice and the Koi will continue to grow much faster in concrete tanks in the breeder’s greenhouses.

Doware — (dohn WAH reh) Large white area of a pattern.



Enyu – (EHN yoo) A doitsu koi with a white body and red markings whose mirror scales are platinum; pale blue speckles may be interspersed within the red and white color of the dorsal surface.

Etsu No Hisoku – (EHT zoo noh hee ZOH koo) A doitsu yellow-green koi.



Flowery Kohaku — (Flowery koh HAH koo) Many, small areas of hi. No recognizable step pattern.

Fucarin — (FOO kah reen) The area of skin around the smaller scales of good metallic koi. The smaller the scales, the greater the luster.

Fuji — (FOO jee) The almost metallic finish on the head of some young non metallic koi. Most often seen in good young Sanke and occasionally, Ogon and Kohaku.

Fukurin — (FOO koo reen) Mesh pattern or reticulated effect (vignette) involving scales and skin. The area of skin around the smaller scales of good metallic Koi. The smaller the scales, the greater the lustre.

Funazoko Hi — Hi Bottom Hi. Hi on the belly and below the lateral lines of Asagi and Shusui. Funazoko means the bottom of a ship. It is called this because it resembles the red paint seen on the waterline of a steamship. It is a point of appreciation for these varieties which lack other strong colors.



Gaku Hi — (GAH koo hee) Red on upper part of face (forehead).

Giku — (GEE koo) Relates to the swimming mode of a koi with a deformed body.

Gin — (geen) Shiny, reflective, silver metallic.

Gin Bekko — (GEEN BEH koo) Basically a metallic Shiro Bekko (Hikari Moyomono).

Gin Kabuto — (GEEN kah BOO tow) A black koi whose scales have silver edges. Now rejected as a poor Ogon.

Gin Matsuba — (GEEN maht ZOO bah) A metallic silver koi with a black ‘pine cone’ (matsuba) pattern in the scales (Hikari Utsurimono).

Gin Me — Silver eyes. White rimmed eyes seen in Kohaku. If the Koi has black eyes (Kuro Me) it is likely to be a Sanke or Showa.

Gin Rin — (Gin Ling) Silver scale.

Gin Shiro — (GEEN SHEE row) A metallic Shiro Utsuri (Hikari Utsurimono).

Gin Showa — (GEEN SHOW wah) A metallic Showa with a silver luster (Hikari Utsurimono).

Ginbo — (GEEN bow) A black koi with a silver metallic sheen. Now considered valueless.

Ginga — (GEEN gah) Metallic koi with black and white markings. A cross breed of a Hajiro Kawarimono with a Platinum Ogon.

Ginrin or Gin Rin — (geen deen) The more commonly used term for Kinginrin, referring to sparkling scale types.

Ginsui — (GEEN swee) A metallic Shusui with a silver luster (Hikari Moyomono).

Gobu — (goh boo) Size five.

Godan Kohaku — (GOH dahn koh HAH koo) A white koi with a five step hi pattern.

Godan — (GOH dahn) Five step pattern.

Goi — (goy) Fish/carp.

Goke – (GOH keh) Fish scale.

Goma — (GOH mah) Sesame’ or scattered sumi.

Gosai — (GOH sigh) 5 year old koi.

Gosanke – (goh SAHN keh) A term that refers collectively to the ‘big three’ of koi keeping: Kohaku, Sanke, and Showa.

Goshiki — (goh SHEE kee) A five colored koi, on which white, red, black, and light and dark blue are mixed to give a purplish appearance (Kawarimono). Scale reticulation on the red and white, or on the white only.

Goshiki Shusui — (goh SHEE kee SHOO swee) A Doitsu, non metallic blue Goshiki (Kawarimono)..

Gotenzakura — (goh tehn ZAH koo rah) Cherry pattern. A cherry blossom patterned Kohaku.

Gotenzakura Kohaku — (go tehn ZAH koo rah koh HAH koo) A cherry blossom patterned Kohaku with many hi patches.



Hachi — (HAH chee) Head.

Hachi Hi — (HAH chee hee) An early ancestor of the modern Kohaku.

Hachiware — (HAH chee WAH reh) Lightning stripe head pattern. Divided head. Hachi means ‘head’, Ware means ‘dividing’. Sumi pattern that divides the head. Also called Menware. Men means ‘face’ but in Koi both ‘head’ and ‘face’ refer to the same thing and are this used interchangeably. Sumi of the head that appears on the Utsurimono family such as Showa Sanshoku. Good Hachiware runs form the mouth to the shoulder in an Inazuma pattern and makes the Koi’s pattern appear to be more dynamic.

Hachizumi — (HAH chee ZOO mee) A black pattern that runs diagonally across the head.

Hada — (hah dah) Sheen.

Hageru — (HAH geh roo) No blurring on the head (relates to metallic varieties particularly).

Hageshiro — (HAH geh SHEE row) A black, non-metallic koi with white on the head and nose and on the tail and pectoral fin tips (Kawarimono).

Hajiro — (hah GEE row) A black koi with white on the tail and pectoral fin tips (Kawarimono).

Haka Shita — (HAH kah SHEE tah) Sagging abdomen.

Hanatsuki — (hah NAHT SOO kee) Head hi extends down the nose.

Hanagara Moyo — Flower pattern. Hi pattern that looks like blooming flowers. Quite beautiful.

Hanazumi — (hah NAH ZOO mee) A black pattern (or spot) around or near the mouth and nose area.

Hana Shusui — (hah NAH SHOO swee) A form of Shusui, also known as a flowery Shusui with round red markings on the sides (between the back scales and the lateral line) instead of parallel the ‘line patches’ down the sides or regular Shusui (Shusui).

Hanatsuki — A hi pattern that reaches the mouth.

Hanzome Kiwa — Back edge line of a Hi marking, or kiwa, is in the middle of the scales.

Hara — (hah RAH) Abdominal area.

Hariwake — (HAH ree WAH keh) Koi with two colors, one of which is platinum, the other metallic orange, gold, or yellow, double metallic cross breeding (Hikari Moyomono).

Hariwake Matsuba — (HAH ree WAH keh maht SOO bah) A silver and yellow metallic koi with a black “pine cone” pattern in its scales (Hikari Moyomono).

Hasami Sumi — Sumi between. Sumi between the Hi plates. Term used to describe Sumi on Taisho Sanshoku. Hasami Sumi is located in narrow Shiroji areas rather than appearing in the Hi plates.

Hashiri Sumi — Running Sumi. Hashiri means ‘run’. Sumi that is scattered in stripes (rather than Motoguro) on the pectoral fins of Showa Sanshoku. The term is also used to describe the striped Sumi on the pectoral fins of Taisho Sanshoku. The term is used only for the pectoral and tail fins but not for Sumi on the body.

Heisei Period — (HAY say period) Contemporary Japanese era that started in 1989 and continues to present. (Periods are dated and named for the Emperor of Japan and the time he serves as Emperor).

Heisei Nishiki — (HAY say nee SHEE kee) A Doitsu Yamato Nishiki. A metallic, scaleless Sanke. Not recognized yet as an established variety.

Hi — (HEE) General term for red. Red or scarlet as colour of marking or pattern

Hi Asagi — (hee ah SAH gee) An Asagi whose red marking extends over the lateral line (Asagi).

Hi Ban — A plate of Hi, used for description of Hi quality and thickness.

Hi Botan — (hee BOW tahn) A koi resembling Bekko, derived from Utsuri lineage.

Hi Mura — Uneven colours in the Hi plate. Poor quality Hi.

Hi Showa — (hee SHOW wah) A predominantly red Showa (Showa). Showa Sanshoku with many Hi plates and very little Shiroji. It is not a variety name but rather a description of the amount of Hi versus Shiroji. Since Kindai Showa Sanshoku that have a lot of Shiroji came to be more available the traditional or older type of Showa came to be called Hi Showa.

Hi Shusui — (hee SHOO swee) A Shusui whose red pattern spreads up from the belly and covers the back (Shusui).

Hi Utsuri — (hee oot SOO ree) A black Koi with red markings (Utsurimono).

Hiagari — (hi GAH ree) Intensity of the red color.

Hiban — (hee BAHN) Red pattern element or red area.

Higoi — (HEE goy) Red koi, usually called Akamuji (light red) or Benigoi (deep red). An early ancestor of the modern Kohaku.

Hikari — (hee KAH ree) Metallic.

Hikari Moyomono — (hee KAH ree MOH yoh MOH noh) A classification including all metallic koi with two or more colors, except metallic Utsuri and Showa.

Hikari Mujimono — (hee KAH ree MOO gee MOH noh) The classification for single-colored metallic Koi.

Hikari Utsurimono — (hee KAH ree oot SOO ree MOH noh) Metallic Utsuri and Showa.

Hikarimono — (hee KAH ree MOH noh) Shining ones, the metallic groups.

Hikarimoyo — (hee KAH ree MOH yoh) Multicolored ‘white-based’ metallic koi.

Hikarimuji — (hee KAH ree MOO gee) Single-coloured metallic koi, with or without scale reticulation.

Himo Sumi — (hee moh SOO mee) String-like, thin sumi pattern. A shape of Sumi that is long and thin like a string (Himo) but is not necessarily straight. Usually used to describe Sumi on Showa and Taisho Sanshoku. Sumi tends to become thick but when it appears in a thin and artistic pattern it makes the Koi very attractive. Depending on the direction the pattern runs it may also be Tate Zumi (parallel to the dorsal fin), Obi Zumi (crossing the dorsal fin and looking like an Obi) or Tasukigake (diagonal).

Hinomaru — (hee noh MAH roo) Sun rising.

Hirenaga Koi — (hee reh NAH gah koi) Long-finned or butterfly koi. Not accepted as a koi variety in Japan.

Hiroshima Kinginrin — (hee ROH shee mah keen geen deen) Kin Gin Rin as ‘cracked glass’ or diamond gin rin. Scales have bright lines running across them.

Hisoku – (hee SOH koo) Yellow-green color.

Hitomoji Sumi — Hito pattern. ‘V’ or ‘Y’ shaped Hachiware Sumi pattern. The shape looks like the Japanese character el (Hito). This is why it is called a Hitomoji (Moji means ‘character’) pattern.

Hoaka — (hoh AH kah) Hi over the gill plate.

Hon sumi — (hohn SOO mee) ‘Genuine sumi’, referring to the black Sanke markings on a Koromo Sanke.

Hoo Aka — (hoo AH kah) A Koi with red gill plates. An early ancestor of the modern Kohaku.

Hoshi — (HOH shee) Opening or window within the pattern.

Hookazuki — (hoo kah ZOO kee) A black carp with red cheeks. An early ancestor of the modern Kohaku.

Houki Sumi — Broom Sumi. Houki means ‘broom’. Sumi that looks like it was swept with a broom. Striped Sumi pattern seen on the pectoral fins or tail fin of Taisho Sanshoku. Also called Hashiri Zumi (‘running’ Sumi) or Tejima (‘hand striped’). A few light stripes are desirable. Extremely strong stripes are not as favoured.



Ichi bu — (EE chee boo) Size one.

Ichimatsu — (EE chee maht soo) Checkered pattern. A design that alternates from the right side to the left side. Desirable on Shiro Utsuri where the Sumi separates the Shiroji evenly.

Inazuma — (EE nah ZOO mah) Lighting-stripe pattern (zig-zag pattern). Term used to describe the shape of a Hi plate. The pattern runs zigzag like lightning over the body. An Inazuma pattern is highly valued because it alternatively reveals the Shiroji.

Ippon Hi — (EE pohn HEE) Straight hi. Unbroken red. Continuous Hi pattern with no break from head to tail. The Hi pattern lacks any Kirekomi or cut-in of the Shiroji from the belly. It is a boring pattern. If the Koi is of excellent quality an Ipponhi pattern may be worthy of our appreciation.

Iro — (EE row) Color.

Iroagari — (EE row ah GAH ree) The degree of color intensity.

Iroage — (EE row ah GEH) The act of intensifying the various colors. To bring out color. Color enhancement. Because Nishikigoi can not create the red pigments within their bodies it is necessary to feed foods with carotene to maintain the red colouration in Koi that have Hi plates. You can say ‘the Koi needs Iroage’ and it would mean that the Koi needs to increase its color or that it should be fed color-enhancing food.

Iromono — (EE row MOH noh) The collective name for all metallic koi.

Isumiya — (Iz-Oo-Me-Ya) Famous breeder.



Jari — (JAH ree) Gravel.

Jarisumi — (JAH ree SOO mee) Small black sumi spots.

Jihada — (gee HAH dah) Texture of the koi’s skin.

Jinbei — (geen BYE) Sanke line of koi bred by Jinbei. It is a highly respected and established lineage as is Matsunosuke.

Juji –(GOO gee) Cross shape.

Junidaira Showa — (GOON ee dye rah SHOW wah) Very old Showa line.

Jyami — (JAH mee) Shorter word for Jarisumi.



Kabuto – (kah BOO toh) Translates to ‘helmet’, referring to a koi whose head color is different from that of its body.

Kado — Edge

Kadogin — A form of Kinginrin where only the edges of the scales are iridescent.

Kagami – (kah GAH mee) An old koi variety with mirror scales on both the dorsal and ventral sides.

Kagamigoi — Mirror carp.

Kage — (KAH geh) Literally, ‘shadow’ or ‘phantom’, referring to Koi with a blurred, reticulated black pattern over the white or red.

Kage Hi Utsuri — (KAH gehhee oot SOO ree) A Koi whose red and black Utsuri pattern is complemented by a kage pattern over the red (Kawarimono).

Kage Shiro Utsuri — (KAH geh SHEE rohoot SOO ree) A Koi with the basic black and white Utsuri pattern and kage pattern over the white (Kawarimono).

Kage Showa — (KAH gehSHOH wah) A Koi with the basic Showa pattern and kage pattern over the white (Kawarimono). Shadowed Showa. This variety was developed from the same bloodline as Koromo Showa. It’s primary feature is the Asagi-like netting pattern that appears on the white skin. Scales in the Shiroji would have a shadow to them. This does not indicate poor quality Sumi but is an enhancement to the pattern.

Kaku Sumi — Square Sumi. Round Sumi is called Maru Zumi. Kaku Zumi appears in bloodlines such as Torazo Sanke or Jinbei Sanke. This is a term used to describe Taisho Sanshoku, but it can be used to describe the Sumi of Showa Sanshoku.

Kaku Tan — (kah KOO tahn) Square-shaped Tancho marking. Square Hi on the head. Used only for Nishikigoi that have a Hi pattern on the body. Recently Maruten (round Hi on the head) is used instead of Kaku Tan.

Kamisori — (kah MEE soh ree) Razor border pattern that cuts across the scale. Straight line kiwa across a scale Kamisori means razor, and it describes the razor-like edge to the kiwa which runs through individual scales.

Kamisori Giwa — Razor cut Kiwa. Term used to describe the shape of the Kiwa at the trailing edge of the Hi plates. It means that the Kiwa is sharp and straight like a razor cut and cuts across the scales rather than following the shape of the scales. It is one of the ideal Kiwa shapes. Another ideal Kiwa is Maruzome.

Kana— (KAH nah) Male koi.

Kanako – (Kah nah koh) A koi with a white body and dappled hi, appearing on single scales.

Kanoko – ( KAH noh koh) Literally, ‘fawn’, referring to the dappled red pattern found on some Koi (Kawarimono).

Kanoko Kohaku — (KAH noh koh koh HAH koo) A Kohaku with dappled red markings.

Kanoko Sanke — (KAH noh kohSAHN keh) A Sanke with dappled red markings.

Kanoko Showa — (KAH noh kohSHOH wah) A Showa with dappled red markings.

Kao — (KAH oh) ‘Face’; any area between the cheeks (also known as ‘men’)

Karasu – (KAH rah soo) A totally black koi, often tinged with a blue haze. Literally, ‘crow’. Black (overall color).

Karasugoi — (KAH rah SOO goy) ‘Crow’ koi; black koi from the Asagi line. Black Koi with white or orange bellies (Kawarimono).

Kasane Sumi – (KAH sah neh SOO mee) A black marking on a red background. Sumi that appears on the hi. As opposed to Tsubo sumi which appears on the white skin. Piled-up Sumi. Kasane literally means ‘to pile up’. Sumi that is riding over or overlapping the Hi. Also Nose (Nose means ‘to ride’) Zumi. Often simply called Kasane. Sumi on the Hi plate is not deeply rooted to the ground (as is Sumi in the Shiroji) and it is thus not stable and can move as the Koi grows. Kasane Zumi of Taisho Sanshoku can disappear.

Kata Moyo — (KAH tah MOH yoh) Single sided pattern. A pattern on only one side of the body. The term is used to describe an unbalanced Hi pattern, where the center of balance seems to lean towards the left or the right. This is not used when the pattern is one sided on the first half or the second half.

Kata Sumi — (KAH tah ZOO mee) Sumi patch or patches on the shoulders. Black on the shoulder.

Kawagoi – (KAH wah goy) A koi with no scales except for some reflective scales on the dorsal surface. Leather carp.

Kawarigoi – ( KAHwah rih goy) Strange koi.

Kawarimono – (kah WAH ree MOH noh) All non-metallic koi that don’t fit into any other classification. The old name for koi with undefined color or pattern. A new exception is the Kikokuryu. It is a metallic koi derived from crossing the Kumonryu with a Kikusui. It was placed in the Kawarimono class. It may change.

Kawarigoi — (kah WAH ree goy) The new name for Kawarimono koi, covering all koi varieties that do not fall under established mainstream koi classifications.

Keitou Bloodline — Generations of Nishikigoi that have been produced by a single breeder to develop specific traits that are handed down to successive generations. Some examples are: Sensuke Kohaku and Jinbei Sanke. The breeder name is usually given as part of the bloodline.

KHV — Koi Herpes Virus. An extremely infective virus with no known cure or scientifically proven antidote. A KHV infection can kill all the koi in a pond. Quarantine of new fish is the only method to prevent infection, though even this cannot be guaranteed.

Ki – (kee) Yellow.

Ki Bekko — (KEE BEH koh) A yellow Koi with black markings (Bekko).

Ki Kokuryu— (KEE koh KOO droo) Metallic Kumonryu ‘Chrysanthemum water’.

Ki Matsuba — (KEE maht SOO bah) A yellow Koi with black ‘pinecone’ Matsuba markings in the centre of the scales (Kawarimono).

Ki Shusui — (KEE SHOO swee) A yellow Shusui with a greenish dorsal. A very rare variety (Shusui).

Ki Utsuri — (KEEoot SOO ree) A black Koi with yellow markings (Utsurimono).

Kigoi — (KEE goy) A yellow koi, often having red eyes (albino line). A non-metallic bright yellow Koi (Kawarimono).

Kikusui — (KEE koo swee) A metallic doitsu Hariwake Ogon. Most often seen as a doitsu Kohaku. Literally, ‘water chrysanthemum. Kikusui are a scaless version of a Hariwake. Basically a doitsu platinum Kohaku (Hikari Moyomono). Ogon with a pattern running between the scale lines.

Kin – (keen) Metallic gold.

Kin Fuji – (keen FOO jee) See Platinum Kohaku.

Kin Hi Utsuri — (keen hee oot SOO ree) A metallic Hi Utsuri (Hikari-Utsurimono).

Kin Katubo – A black Koi whose scales have gold edges; now considered valueless.

Kin Ki Kokuryu — (KEEN kee koh KOO droo) A metallic equivalent of the Beni Kumonryu tends to have both gold and silver patterns on a black base.

Kin Ki Utsuri — (KEEN kee OOT soo ree) Metallic black koi with gold markings where the gold can range in color from yellow to red. A metallic Hi Utsuri.

Kin Rin — (keen deen) Gold Scale.

Kin Showa — (keen SHOW wah) Metallic Showa koi with a gold luster.

Kinbo — A black Koi with a gold metallic sheen. Now considered valueless.

Kindai — (keen DYE) Modern.

Kindai Showa — (keen DYE SHOH wah) A Showa with a predominantly white pattern (Showa).

Kinginrin — (keen geen deen) Also known as Gin Rin (geen deen). A koi with silver or gold colored sparkling scales. Koi with rows of very shiny scales along the back and sides.

Kinitsusei — (KEE neet SOO say) Uniformity of color.

Kinporai — (KEEN por ey) A bronze metallic Matsuba Ogon.

Kinrin — (Keen deen) A koi with gold-colored sparkling scales.

Kinsui — (KEEN swee) Metallic Shusui with gold luster and more hi (see Ginsui).

Kinzakura— (KEEN zah KOO rah) Golden cherries; gold-bordered hi. A metallic Gotenzakura.

Kirekomi — (KEE reh KOH mee) Narrow white inserts into the hi rising from the sides of the koi. Kirekomi Cut in Shiroji which cuts into Hi plates from the belly. It is this Shiroji that forms stepped patterns, complex patterns and Inazuma patterns. The position of the Kirekomi is important. It appears to spread as the Koi gains weight. A hi pattern without Kirekomi would be called Ipponhi.

Kitchinai — Sanke line of koi.

Kiwa – (KEE wah) The edge of a patch or marking. The definition between hi and white markings.

Kobayashi — (Ko-Buy-Ashy) Early Showa breeder. Original contemporary Showa line.

Koborehi — (koh BOH reh HEE) Scattered hi (red).

Koboresumi — (koh BOH reh SOO mee) Scattered sumi (black).

Kohaku — (koh HAH koo) A koi with a white body and red markings. The first koi in the “Big Three” class of koi, known as Go-Sanke; Kohaku, Sanke, and Showa.

Koi Dangi — (koy dahn gee) Japanese term for koi enthusiasts “talking about koi”.

Koinobori — (koy-no-bore-ree) Carp Streamers (flags)

Koishi — (koy shee) Nishikigoi breeders.

Koke — (KOH keh) Scale.

Kokenami — (KOH keh NAH mee) Line of scales.

Kokesuki — (KOH keh SOO kee) Uneven color within the pattern; single colorless scales. Lighter scale. Refers to a scale in a Hi plate or Sumi patch. This term describes scales that are not saturated with colour so that the background shows through. The scale appears thinner than the surrounding area and looks transparent. The color appears scattered and lack uniformity. This is considered a fault. If the Koi has good deep red it might recover. But in general it is difficult for Kokesuki to fill in. Kokesuki refers to scales that fade or lose color and result in Hi Mura (inconsistent color).

Kokugyo — (koh KOOG yoh) Koi, the national fish representing Japan. Title given to Koi that won Best in Size at the All Japan Combined Nishikigoi Show. The prize is named the Kokugyo prize. Literally it is the best prize for that section of Koi. Many Koi hobbyists target this prize. The term can also be used to mean Nishikigoi themselves. The same award at the ZNA All Japan Nishikigoi Show is called the Rin’oh prize.

Komoyo – (koh MOH yoy) Small zigzag, flowery pattern of red and white. Small hi markings.

Konjo – (KAHN joh) Very dark indigo/purple blue.

Konjo Asagi — (KAHN joh ah SAH gee) A dark blue fish. An early ancestor of the modern Asagi.

Konzai — (kahn ZYE) Kiwa having both maruzome and kamisori elements.

Koromo — (koh ROH moh) Translates to ‘robed’, referring to a koi that has a white base color, overlaid by red patterns with reticulation. Literally, ‘robed’, referring to a group of Koi whose hi pattern is outlined in a darker color.

Koromo Sanke — (koh ROH moh SAHN keh) A Koi with the Koromo reticulated over the hi marking, and the sumi markings of a traditional Sanke (Koromo).

Koromo Showa — (koh ROH mohSHOH wah) A Koi with the markings of a Showa overlaid with the Koromo pattern (Koromo).

Koromozumi — (koh ROH moh ZOO mee) Sumi Goromo netted sumi.

Koshi – (KOH shee) Green.

Koshi Nishiki — (KOH sheenee SHEE kee) The result of a cross between an Ogon and a Sanke. Now known as Yamato-nishiki.

Kozumi — (koh ZOO mee) Small black spots, but giving a tidy atmosphere.

Kuchi — (KOO chee) Lips, a general term.

Kuchibeni – (KOO chee BEN eee) A red-lipped koi.

Kuchizumi – (KOO chee ZOO mee) Sumi on the mouth.

Kubiwa Sumi — Collar Sumi. Kubiwa means ‘collar’ or ‘necklace’. Sumi that goes around the neck connecting one gill area to the other. The term described the shape of certain Sumi that occurs in the Utsurimono family (including Showa Sanshoku and all Utsuri). The name originated because this Sumi resembled the collar of a dog.

Kuchi Sumi — Mouth Sumi. Sumi around the mouth seen in Utsurimono such as Showa. It is rare but Taisho Sanshoku could have Kuchi Sumi.

Kuchibeni Lipstick — Hi on the lips. Because it looks like lipstick it can be very charming.

Kujaku — (koo JAH koo) Translates to ‘peacock’, referring to a reticulated metallic white koi with red, orange or golden markings. A platinum Koi with hi markings covering a large proportion of the body and with Matsuba patterning in the scales (Hikari Moyomono).

Kujaku Ogon — (koo JAH koo OH gahn) Another name for Kujaku.

Kumonryu — (KOO mahn droo) Is the term applied to a black Doitsu koi with random white patterns that change continuously until mature. Scaleless black koi with white markings. Literally, ‘dragon fish’. A black doitsu Koi with changing white marking on its head, fins and body (Kawarimono).

Kumoru — (KOO morh ooo) Loss of color, brightness, and gloss.

Kuragake — (KOO rah GAH keh) Wearing a saddle. A pattern that crosses the back of the koi like a saddle on a horse. Term used to describe a pattern that crosses over the backbone and covers both sides of the body in the shape of a horse’s saddle. It is one of the most stable patterns. It is usually used to describe a Hi pattern but it could also describe a Sumi pattern.

Kuro – (KOO roh) Black.

Kuroboshi — A relatively large black spot. In Showa this is the beginning of the Sumi development. This spot has emerged. It is more coalesced than Kage Zumi (shadow over an area).

Kuro Ki Han – (Koo roh kee han) The original name for Shiro Utsuri.

Kurogoi — (KOO roh goy) Black food carp – the origin of Nishikigoi.

Kuroko — Black fry. Only Kuroko will be selected in culling Kumonryo and Utsurimono like Showa.

Kurozumi — (KOO roh ZOO mee) Rich, glossy black with no blue highlights.

Kutsubera — (KOO tsoo beh RAH) Shoehorn pattern on the head. Used to describe the shape of Hi on the head. The pattern consists of a round area of Hi on the mouth and a trapezoid of Hi on the forehead. A typical Hi pattern on the head; Maruten is another typical Hi pattern on the head.

Kuzugoi — (KOO zoo-goy) Junk Koi.



Leather Koi – Refers to a koi with no visible scalation, e.g., doitsu.

Linages – Genetic lines.



Ma — Wild.

Mado — (MAH doh) A’window’ in a pattern element involving more than one or two scales. Small Shiroji areas occurring either in Hi plates or Sumi patched that look like windows. This Shiroji in Hi plates is also called Madoaki. It is considered a weak point because the Mado rarely fill in and they disturb the dignity of the pattern. If they help keep the total balance of the pattern then they may be considered acceptable. Mado can be caused by the inborn character of the Koi or from being damaged and/or missing scales.

Madoaki — (MAH doh AH kee) A ‘window’ in a red pattern. Scales with ‘shadows’ under the skin. A blank or an opening in the pattern.

Magoi — (MAH goy) Mud carp, originally wild carp. Common black carp, the ancestor of modern Nishikigoi.

Makiagari — (MAH kee ah GAH ree) A pattern extending from the abdomen to the upper area. Wrap up. The term used to describe Sumi of the Utsurimono family such as Showa Sanshoku and Shiro Utsuri. The Sumi of the Utsurimono family rises to wrap the body from the belly to the back along the trunk and thus is the term used only with Sumi for these varieties of Koi. We do not use Makisagari because it means ‘wrap down’.

Makibara — A red pattern that wraps around the body.

Makikomi — (MAH kee KOH mee) A pattern extending from the upper area to the abdomen.

Manzo — (Man-Zoh) Kohaku Bloodline.

Maruten — (MOH roo ten) Crown. A Koi with a separate red marking on the head. A separate, self contained hi pattern on the head with other hi patterns on the body; i.e. Maruten Kohaku. Round Hi pattern on the head of a Koi. When a Koi has only one Hi plate, and it is a round Hi plate on the head, the Koi is called a Tancho. When a Koi has multiple Hi plates including one round Hi plate on the head, it is referred to as Maruten. The round Hi on the Koi’s head resembles a Japanese crane called a Tancho Zuru (crane). The pattern also resembles the Japanese flag, and Tancho Kohaku are very desirable for this reason. Large round Hi patterns that stay on the head are most desirable. Small, round patterns on the head are called Ko (small) Maruten.

Maruten Kohaku — (MOH roo tenkoh HAH koo) A Kohaku with a separate red marking on the head and additional red on the body.

Maruten Sanke — (MOH roo tenSAHN keh) A Sanke with a separate red marking on the head and additional red on the body.

Maruzome – (MOH ruu ZOH meh) ‘Round-dyed’,scalloped kiwa. The pattern follows the scale edges. Also called Tama Giwa. One of the two primary Kiwa shapes. Often seen in Kohaku of the Dainichi bloodline. It is highly prized because it resembles the shape of a cherry blossom petal. The opposite is Kamisori Giwa.

Matsuba — (maht SOO bah) ‘Pine-Cone’ scale pattern; single color koi (metallic or non-metallic) with scale reticulation. A Koi with black markings in the centre of the scales on the body. Non-metallic Matsuba Koi are classed in Kawarimono, metallic ones in Hikari Mujimono (Ogon).

Matsuba Ogon — (maht SOO bahOH gahn) Another name for Kin Matsuba (Hikari Mujimono).

Matsukawabake — (maht SOO kah wah BAHK keh) Scale version of the Kumonryu. A non metallic black and white koi whose pattern changes with the time of year and water temperature – i.e. summer and winter, although periods may be longer (Kawarimono).

Matsunosuke — (Mats Nos Kay) Sanke bloodline.

Medaira — Refers to an imaginary line that runs between the eyes. It is the ideal pattern entry for the head. When a pattern begins above this line, the pattern is considered light. An ideal pattern begins a little bit closer to the mouth then the line and is a bit curved towards the mouth.

Meija era — A period in Japanese history, 1868-1912.

Men — (mehn) ‘Face’; also kao.

Mekazura — Rim of the eyes. Skin and muscle that surrounds the eyes including the eye lids. When there is Hi around the eyes we say ‘it disgraces Mekazura’. If the Mekazura is white on a Menkaburi pattern it is still most likely a high quality Koi and the Menkaburi is not considered a fault.

Mekiki — Koi expert. An experienced and well trained person that can accurately judge not only the present value but also the future value of a Koi.

Mena Kana — Mena means female and Kana means male.

Menasa — Shallow or light entry of the pattern on the head. A koi with Menasa has wide Shiroji on its head because the pattern begins further back rather than the ideal pattern entry of a curved line between the eyes. We would say that ‘this Koi’s head is Menasa’.

Menkaburi — (MEHN kah BOO ree) Hi (red) covering the entire face/head – from the mouth to the gills. Hood. An early Kohaku with a red head.

Menshiro — White face. Indicates that both gill covers are white. Clean face that has no Hi on the gill covers. It is particularly important in the Kohaku variety, but it is not an absolute necessity. Even Menkaburi can be judged an acceptable pattern when it is supported with other outstanding features.

Menware — (MEHN wah reh) Lighting-strip across the head. The traditional Showa head pattern, where the black pattern divides the red marking on the head. Head divided. Describes a Sumi pattern seen only in Showa Sanshoku or Shiro Utsuri that divides the head. An ideal Menware (also interchangeably called Hachiware) runs in an Inazuma pattern from the mouth to the shoulder and gives the Koi an impression of power.

Mesu — (Mace) Female.

Midori — (mee DOH ree) Green.

Midorigoi — (mee DOH ree goy) A green doitsu koi. A very rare Koi, bright green in color, with black or silvery scales (Kawarimono).

Mizu — (MEE zoo) Light blue color. Water.

Mizu Asagi – (MEE zoo ah SAH gee) Very light Asagi.

Mono — (MOH noh) One or single.

Moto — (MOH toh) Or ‘original sumi’, i.e. black markings that are apparent in fry and remain visible on the adult Koi.

Motoaka — (MOH toh AH kah) Red pectoral fin joints. Hi at the base of pectoral fins. Small Hi that is gathered together at the spot where the fin meets the body shows the quality of the Koi’s Hi and is a feature of some varieties and patterns. The rest of the pectoral fins must be white. If it cannot easily be seen in a Kohaku when the Koi is viewed from the top then it is acceptable. If it is obvious it is considered a weak point in Kohaku but a feature in Asagi and Showa.

Motoguro — (MOH toh GOO roh) Black fin joints. Black color on shoulder joint extending into the pectoral fins. Sumi at the base of pectoral fins. Seen primarily in Showa and Shiro Utsuri. It could mean Sumi in the tail fin but the term is rarely used for that. Small Sumi that is gathered together at the spot where the fins meets the body shows the quality of the Koi’s Sumi. If the Sumi is spread as if by a broom it is a fault in Showa and Shiro Utsuri. high quality Motoguro makes the white pectoral fins appear dignified and is considered a highlight of these varieties.

Moyo — (MOH yoh) More than one color.

Moyo no kire — (MOH yoh noh KEE reh) Sharpness of edge of the color pattern.

Mudagoke — (MOO dah GOH keh) Redundant scale. Wasteful scales. Irregular scales on a Doitsu Koi. The straight scale lines starting from the shoulder and running along both sides of the dorsal fin are the highlight of a Doitsu Koi’s beauty. Any scales out of order are very noticeable and disgrace the Koi’s appearance.

Muji — (MOO gee) Single solid color. Self-colored (literally, ‘nothing else’).

Mukashi Showa — Old type Showa. Opposite of Kindai (new) Showa that have much Shiroji. The older traditional Showa Sanshoku had mostly Hi and Sumi and are now called Mukashi Showa and sometimes Hi Showa. It is not a variety name but rather a description. There are still many Mukashi Showa with superior Hi quality.

Mura — (MOO rah) A state in which color is lacking uniformity.

Murasakigoi — (MOO rah sah KEE goy) A purple/lavender colored koi.



Nabe Sumi — (NAH beh SOO mee) Soft gray/brown sumi from the original Tetsu Magoi line. Poor Sumi. Opposite of Urushi Zumi. Sumi that is rubbish. Sumi that is no good. Sumi that belongs outside of the gene pool.

Nagaremoyo — (nah GAH reh MOH yoh) Streaming hi pattern.

Namikin — (nah MEE keen) Tail fin.

Namitate — (nah MEE tah teh) Dorasl fin.

Narumi — (nah ROO mee) Mid blue.

Narumi Asagi — (nah ROO mee ah SAH gee) Medium blue colored Asagi as that of traditionally blue dyed cotton cloth. Lighter than Konjo Asagi and darker that Mizu Asagi. The typical light blue patterned Asagi (Asagi).

Nesai — (NEH say) Over one year, and up to two years old – referring to koi age.

Nezu — (NEH zoo) Gray color.

Nezu Ogon — (NEH zoo OH gahn) Gray metallic scaled koi. A silver grey Koi with a dull metallic luster (Hikari Mujimono).

Nezumi –- (NEH zoo) Gray.

Ni Bu — (nee BOO) Size two.

Niban — (nee BAHN) Secondary.

Niban Hi — (nee BAHN HEE) Secondary hi, also called Asagi hi. Thin Hi. This is secondary Hi and occurs later in a Koi’s development. It is most often seen in the Kiwa. It makes an excellent Nishikigoi pattern appear vague and takes away the brilliance of the contrast between the Hi and Shiroji. Koi with Niban Hi rarely recover a good Hi plate.

Nibani — (nee BAH nee) Secondary hi, which appears and disappears depending on such factors as water condition and temperature.

Nidan — (nee DAHN) Two step – as in “2-Step Kohaku” – same as “Nidan Kohaku”.

Nidan hara — (nee DAHN HAH rah) Concave abdomen.

Nidan Kohaku — (nee DAHN koh HAH koo) A Kohaku with two steps of hi.

Niigata — An area on the Northwest coast of mainland Japan, the birthplace and pillar of the Koi-breeding industry.

Niigata Nogoyosai — Niigata agriculture festival where the Niigata Nishikigoi show is held. Only breeders in Niigata compete at this show. The Koi show is held in Ojiya city on the last weekend of each October. The 43rd show took place in 2004. It is a part of the National festival of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. The grand champion at this show is awarded the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries prize.

Nimai Sashi — Sashi that is two scales wide. Ni means ‘two’. Undesirable as perfect Sashi should be exactly one scale wide. Sanman sashi is 3 scales wide.

Nisai — (Nee Sigh) Born last year.

Nishikigoi — (nee SHEE kee goy) ‘Jeweled’ carp – English term “koi” is an abbreviation of Nishikigoi. A fancy or colored koi. From ‘nishiki’, a beautiful colored ‘goi’, meaning fish.

Nose Sumi — Riding Sumi. Sumi that appears on Hi plates. Also called Kasane Sumi.

Nosezumi — (NOH seh ZOO mee) A sumi (black) pattern overlapping a hi (red) pattern.



Obachi — Tail section. A specific term for Ozutsu. It specifies the top section of the Ozutsu not the sides or the bottom. The tail section is a very important part for Koi and thus there are many special terms.

Obi Sumi — Belt Sumi. A shape of Sumi that is thin, long and square like an Obi (belt). Several Sumi patches usually connect to create the pattern. Used mainly to describe the Sumi in Taisho Sanshoku. The pattern must cross the backbone and look like an Obi. It would be perpendicular to Tate sumi.

Ochiba Shigure — (oh CHEE bah shee GOO reh) ‘Autumn leaves on the water’; a nezu (gray) koi with one or more cha (brown) patterns (Kawarimono). Usually reffered to as only Ochiba (O-Chee-Ba).

Odome — (oh DAH meh) Last marking before the tail. Line between the last color and Shiroji in the tail section. Odome is the way the pattern appears as it stops or finishes in the tail section. A good Odome must create a clear line and leave white showing. The pattern in the tail section must consist of both Hi and Shiroji in Kohaku, Shiroji and Sumi for both Sanke and Showa. When the tail section ends with adequate Shiroji before the fin (especially in Gosanke) we say that the ‘Odome is good’. When the Shiroji is too wide or when only Hi or Sumi reach the tail we say that the ‘Odome is bad’.

Ogon — (OH gahn) Collective name for metallic koi. Single coloured metallic Koi (Hikari Mujimono).

Oh Sumi — Relatively large Sumi on the body. Also called Doka Zumi. We put this one in just to test you.

Oiya — (OYE yah) Parent.

Oiyagoi — (OYE yah goy) Koi boodstock – parent koi.

Ojime — (oh GEE meh) Gap between the last pattern marking and the tail. A small white area before the tail. Completes the back.

Omoyo — (oh MOH yoh) Single pattern – deep wrapping pattern. Large hi markings.

Operculm — The hard plate covering the soft fleshy gills.

Orenji — (oh REHN gee) Orange color.

Orenji Hariwake — (oh REHN geeHAH ree WAH keh) A silver Koi with metallic orange markings (Hikari Moyomono).

Orenji Ogon — (oh REHN gee OH gahn) A deep orange metallic Koi (Hikari Mujimono).

Osu — (Ose) Male.

Oyabone — The thickest bone of the pectoral fin, dorsal fin and tail fin. The bone of each fin that is closest to the head. Ideally it should be white. When it has some colour we say that the ‘Oyabone is disgraced’.

Oyagoi — (O-Ya-Goy) Adult breeder koi.

Oyugu hoseki — (oh YOO goo hoh SEH kee) Living Jewels – an affectionate name for koi.

Ozuke — (oh ZOO keh) The base of the tail.

Ozuke Hi — Hi at the very base of the tail fin. Not desirable. Not even a little bit.

Ozutsu — (oh ZOOT soo) Tail section. This term is used for the part of the body located from the end of the dorsal fin to the root of the tail. It is an important section because it contains the Odome. In addition, Nishikigoi with thick Ozutsu look powerful, while koi with thin Ozutsu look feeble. If a Koi has a thick Ozutsu while it is young it may have the potential to grow into a Jumbo Koi. Obachi specifies the top section of the Ozutsu, not the sides or the bottom.



Parapara — A scattering of hi.

Pearl Ginrin — A solid sparkling area on each scale, also known as Tsuba-gin or Tama-gin.

Pearl Shusui — A Shusui with silver scales (Shusui).

Penducle — (pehn DOOK leh) Area just before the tail.

Platinum Kohaku — A metallic white Koi with an overlaying hi pattern. Also known as Kin-fuji (Hikari Mujimono).

Platinum Ogon — A metallic white Koi, also known as Purachina (Hikari Mujimono).

Pongoi — (POHN goy) Good grade koi.

Pooky — (POO kee) A fun name for a Nishikigoi.

Purachina — (poo RAH chee nah) Platinum. A white metallic Koi, also known as a Platinum Ogon (Hikari Mujimono).



Renzokumoyo — (REHN zoh KOO moh yoh) Continous pattern.

Reticulation — Net pattern.

Rin — (deen) Is a word that mean ‘scales’. Rin is not used as a single word, it is only used in conjunction with other descriptive words such as Gin; as in Gin Rin to describe silver metallic scales.

Rin ‘oh Prize — Prize given to the Koi that wins best in size at the ZNA All Japan Nishikigoi Show. The same award at the All Japan Combined Nishikigoi Show is called the Kokugyo prize.

Roku bu — (ROH koo boo) Size six.



Sabi — (SAH bee) Appearance of depth to the skin of scaled koi.

Sadazo — (Sad As Oh) A Sanke lineage, with bright hi markings and small sumi markings that do not overlap the hi.

Saiseirin — Reappearing the scale. Scale that returns after having been lost in an accident or injury. Saiseirin could be good or bad, depending if the scale grew back to be the original color.

Sakame Asagi — Reverse Asagi. Koi that has white cores in the scales and indigo netting which is the exact opposite of the scale pattern on a Narumi Asagi.

Sakura Ogon — A metallic Kanoko Kohaku (Hikari Moyomono).

San bu — (SAHN boo) Size three.

Sandan — (SAHN dahn) Three-step pattern; as in Sandan Kohaku (3-Step Kohaku).

Sandan Kohaku — (SAHN dahn koh HAH koo) A Kohaku with three hi markings (Kohaku).

Sankaku Hi — A triangular Hi plate. Used especially to describe Hi on the tail section.

Sanke — (SAHN keh) Literally, ‘tri-color’. ‘White-based’ koi with hi and sumi patterns of red and black (Sanke).

Sanke Shusui — (SAHN keh SHOO swee) A doitsu Sanke whose pattern is underlaid with the blue back of the Shusui (Kawarimono).

Sanke Sumi — (SAHN keh SOO mee) Black typically found in small well defined patches over the body of the koi, but not on the head. ‘Leopard-spot’ pattern. Also occurs on Bekko.

Sansai — (SAHN sigh) Over two, and up to three years old – referring to koi age.

Sanshoku — (sahn·shoh·koo) Tri-colored as in Showa Sanshoku.

Sarasa — (sah RAH sah) Pattern of birds, flowers, and geometric patterns. Another term for ‘longfin’. Red spots on the back. Old name for Kohaku. Still used once in a while.

Sashi –(SAH shee) Short for Sashikomi. The underlying black or red markings on a Koi. These markings often stabilize when the Koi is mature. Blurring of the leading edge of a pattern element, seen on scaled koi between the front of a Hi plate or Sumi and the Shiroji. The blurry pinkish colour is caused by the end of the Shiroji scale overlapping the beginning of the Hi scale. When the Hi is of sufficient quality, the Hi shows through the Shiroji and appears as a blurry pinkish line at the front edge of each Hi pattern. Sashi refers only to the Kiwa towards the head and does not occur in the Kiwa towards the tail. Ideal Sashi is about one scale wide. Nimai Zashi is 2 scales wide. Sanmai Zashi is 3 scales wide.

Sashi Seigyo — Mature Koi. Nishikigoi more then 6 years old. At Koi shows, Nishikigoi are entered into a class only by size and not by age.

Sashi Sumi — Short for Sashkomi. Sashi is not only seen in Hi but also in Sumi. Term that refers to the often blurry line between the front of Sumi and the Shiroji. The blurry bluish colour is caused by the end of the Shiroji scale overlapping the beginning of the Sumi scale. The Sumi shows through the Shiroji and appears as a blurry bluish line at the front edge of each Sumi pattern. Sashi refers only to the Kiwa towards the head and does not occur in the Kiwa towards the tail. Ideal Sashi is about one scale wide. Nimai Zashi is 2 scales wide. Sanmai Zashi is 3 scales wide.

Sashikomi – (SAH shee KOH mee) Scales covering the front edge of the pattern.

Sensuke — (Sen Skay) Kohaku bloodline.

Seware — Dividing the back. A Hi pattern that has most of the Hi with wide Shiroji on the back. A Hi pattern that looks as if it were dividing the Koi’s back.

Shemegai — Stunt the growth. The process of keeping Koi small by stunting their growth. Shimegai can be accomplished by feeding them a very small amount of food and keeping them in limited space so the pheromones that limit their growth are present.

Shiagari — Finish. Koi become more beautiful or less beautiful as time goes by. If a Koi finishes well and is beautiful we say it has good Shiagari. If a Koi does not finish well then we say it has poor Shiagari.

Shibun — A very tiny weak point. Insignificant. Trivial. Meaningless. Used by customers to try and negotiate a 50% discount on a Koi. A exercise in futility.

Shiki bu — (SHEE kee boo) Size seven.

Shimi — (SHEE mee) Very small black speckles, or dots, no larger than a single scale. Judges consider Shimi as a demerit – koi owners call them ‘Beauty Marks’. Small black specks, which sometimes spoil the appearance of the white or red markings of Koi.

Shinsui — Fresh water. We could say ‘the pond needs Shinsui’. You should add 10% of Shinsui to your pond every week.

Shintaro — New Go Sanke line of koi (Matsunosuke based).

Shiro — (SHEE roh) White.

Shiro Bekko — (SHEE rohBEH koh) Tortoise shell. A white Koi with black markings (Bekko).

Shiro Muji — (SHEE rohMOO gee) White, non-metallic, without pattern.

Shiro Matsuba — (SHEE rohmaht SOO bah) A white Koi with a black ‘pinecone’ Matsuba pattern in the scales on the back (Kawarimono).

Shiro Utsuri — (SHEE rohoot SOO ree) White reflection. A black koi with white markings (Utsurimono).

Shirobou — White Nishikigoi. Many white patterns are culled. However a Koi could become white when it was 2-3 years old. Also called Shiro Muji.

Shirogane — An early name for Platinum Ogon.

Shirogoi — (SHEE roh goy) White koi.

Shiroji — (shee ROH gee) White skin or white canvas.

Shiromuji — (SHEE roh MOO gee) Other koi varieties who’s color disappeared and ‘turned white’. A white non-metallic koi (Kawarimono).

Shita Sumi — Sumi beneath. Sumi that appears to be hiding below the surface of the Shiroji. Sumi that is barely visible under the surface at the scales. Shita Sumi could emerge or disappear. Kage Sumi refers to Sumi that has started to emerge and is seen on the skin as a shadow.

Shitsu — (SHEET soo) Quality, or nature of skin – including shiroji, hi, sumi, etc.

Shochikubai — (shoh CHEE koo bye) Metallic Ai Goromo. Pine, bamboo, and plum (Hikari Moyomono).

Showa — (SHOH wah) A three colored koi, black with red and white. Black koi with red and white markings. Also referred to as Showa Sanshoku. The last of the Go Sanke class of koi (The Big Three Koi) of Kohaku, Sanke, and Showa. Showa exhibit sumi in stripes or bands (similar to Utsuri), as opposed to Sanke which show sumi in spots. Showa also have sumi on the head, Sanke does not.

Showa Period — (SHOW wah period) Japanese era from 1927 through 1989. (Periods are dated and named for the Emperor of Japan and the time he serves as Emperor).

Showa Shusui — (SHOH wah) A Koi with the strong sumi and pattern of a Showa and the underlying blue of a Shusui (Kawarimono).

Showa Sumi — (SHOH wah SOO mee) The type of black pattern found in stripes and bands all over a koi – including the head. Similar to ‘Tiger Stipes’. Showa sumi also occurs on Utsuri.

Shusui — (SHOO swee) An ai (blue) Doitsu koi with hi (red) markings usually on the sides of the body and the head. Autumn water. Doitsu Asagi. Doitsu (scaleless) Asagi. Variety created from the breeding of Doitsu black Koi with Asagi. Kichigori Akiyama in Tokyo first succeeded breeding the Doitsu version of Asagi in 1910. Because this achievement added a Doitsu version to this variety soon other Koi varieties also became more diverse with fantastic new possibilities.

Shusui bire — The hi equivalent of Motoguro – hi at the base of the pectoral fins of Shusui.

Sokozumi — (SOH koh ZOO mee) Black that is faintly visible.

Sorogoi –(SOH roh goi) A gray-blue, non-metallic koi (Kawarimono).

Subo Sumi — (SOO bo SOO mee) Black falls on white skin only.

Sui — Water (rippling effect).

Sumi — (SOO mee) Black marking.

Sumi Giwa — Black border. Border line between the black pattern and the other colours.

Sumi Goromo — (SOO mee goh ROH moh) White koi with red patterns overlaid by black reticulation (black net pattern). An Ai Goromo whose koromo pattern is overlaid with solid black markings (Koromo).

Sumi Mono — Sumi class. General name for Nishikigoi that have Sumi such as Taisho Sanshoku, Showa, Kumonryo etc.

Suminagashi — (SOO mee nah GAH shee) A black koi with white scale reticulation (white net pattern). A Koi whose black scales are outlined in white.

Susu Sumi — Soot Sumi. Low quality Sumi that is like soot which is simply black without lustre. Also called Nabe Sumi. The opposite term is Urushi Sumi.



Taikei — (tye KYE) Conformation of the body.

Taiko — Height. The height of a Koi from the top of the back to the bottom of the belly. Measurement of the widest part. It is said that Koi that have a big Taiko have the potential to grow very large. Of course it is important to consider all of the factors.

Taisho Period — (TYE show period) Japanese era from 1912 through 1926. (Periods are dated and named for the Emperor of Japan and the time he serves as Emperor).

Taisho Sanke — (TYE shoh SAHN keh) The full name of Sanke which are ‘white based’ koi with ed and black patterns. Three colored koi; shiro (white) body with hi (red) and sumi (black) markings – commonly referred to as ‘Sanke’. Unlike Showa, Sanke never have sumi on the head, and Sanke’s body sumi appears in patches, or spots – not in bands or stripes like that of the Showa. The Sanke is the second koi in the Go-Sanke Class of Koi that is known as ‘The Big Three’. Produced in the Taisho era.

Taisho Sanshuko — Proper name of the variety usually called Sanke. Sanshoku means three colours. While breeding Kohaku, Koi with black pigments suddenly appeared. While the primary evaluation is still based on the Kohaku pattern, the variety was improved to have the added highlight of large, lacquer black Sumi patches that these Koi are known for today.

Takai — (TAH Eye) Expensive.

Taki –(TAH kee) Waterfall.

Taki Sanke — (SAHN keh) An Asagi whose blue body color is divided from the red markings on its sides by a white line (Sanke).

Tamagin — See Pearl Ginrin.

Tancho — (TAHN choh) A koi with a single hi spot on the head only. Red cap. A red spot on the head (used when the Koi has no other red on the body, in contrast to ‘maruten’.)

Tancho Kohaku — (TAHN choh koh HAH koo) A white Koi with a red spot on the head only. (Tancho).

Tancho Sanke — (TAHN choh SAHN keh) A Sanke whose only red marking is a head spot (Tancho).

Tancho Showa — (TAHN choh SHOH wah) A Showa whose only red marking is a head spot (Tancho).

Tasukigake — Literally a cord that runs diagonally across the back to hold up the sleeves of a Kimono. Describes a pattern that crosses the back diagonally. It is not called Tasukigake when the pattern crosses the back in a straight line (but it may then be Obi Zumi). If the Tasukigake is thin, then it may also be Himo Zumi.

Tate Hi — Long Hi. Hi plate that goes from the mouth towards the tail. Because there is no Maki it lacks in power. A Hi plate that crosses over the backbone and has Maki is called Kuragake. Also referred to as ‘Vertical Hi’.

Tate Sumi — Long Sumi. A long Sumi shape that is generally parallel to the dorsal fin of the Koi. Sumi tends to appear in a Kuragake shape and very few Taisho Sanshoku have Tate Sumi. Large Tate Sumi make a strong impact, unlike Tate Hi which appears as a weak pattern. Thin Tate Sumi may be Himo Sumi.

Tategoi — (TAH teh goy) A koi that posses potential for the future. A koi that the breeder keeps because he thinks it will improve and be worth more money at a later age. This is the most misused word in the koi language. At one time a dealer could not buy these koi, but due to demand the koi breeders are selling some in the early spring. They don’t come cheap!

Tateshita — What a koi becomes when the breeder decides to sell it. It is no longer tategoi.

Teaka — Pectoral fins with Hi. Except for a few varieties like Asagi, Shusui and Aka Hajiro, the pectoral fin should be white. When the Hi spreads to the ends of the pectoral fins it is considered a defect. Small Hi at the base of the pectoral fins is a feature called Motoaka.

Tebire — (teh BEE reh) Pectoral fin.

Tejima — (teh GEE mah) Sumi stripes in the fins. Most often used to describe the pectoral fins of Taisho Sanshoku. Also called Houki (broom) Sumi. It also used to be called Rentaiki (means flag of regiment) because it looked like the flag of the old navy of Japan. It is said that a few Tejima in Sanke makes the body pattern more stable.

Teri — (TEH ree) Gloss or luster. Skin shine. Koi produce a secretion called the slime coat on the surface of the body to protect the skin. Healthy Koi produce a lot of this secretion and it creates a shine over the body. Unhealthy Koi produce less secretion and thus the skin does not seem to have sheen. This sheen is called Teri.

Tetsu — (TEHT soo) Iron.

Tetsu Magoi — (TEHT soo MAH goy) Ancestor or predecessor of Showa, Chagoi, and Ogon lines.

Tezumi — (teh ZOO mee) Another term for sumi stripes in the fins. Sumi in the pectoral fins. While Sumi can cover any part of the fins it is considered ideal that Tezumi appear at Motoguru in Kumonryo, Shiro Utsuri and Showa. Some varieties would ideally have Motoaka and the rest (except those of solid colour) would ideally have white pectoral fins without Tezumi.

Tobi — (TOH bee) Jump. In koi it refers to koi that jump in size by eating their siblings. It is very important to remove these koi when sorting fry from a spawn.

Tobi hi — (TOH bee HEE) Very small hi (red) spots resembling splashes of paint. Hi alone. Hi that is not part of a Hi plate. Because it is usually about one scale in size and does not form a Hi plate it is considered unnecessary Hi. But there are areas where one Tobi Hi could accentuate the pattern. A description used with scaled Koi while Mudagoke refers to a Doitsu Koi.

Tome Sumi — Stop Sumi. Tome means ‘stop’. A Sumi patch than ends in the tail section, or Sumi creating the Odome of Sanke or Showa. Tome Sumi is very important and much more valuable than Hi in the Odome.

Tora Ogon — (TOH rah OH gahn) Metallic Ki Bekko (yellow and black). (Literally, ‘tiger’ Ogon). An Ogon with black markings (Hikari Mujimono).

Tomoin — Kohaku line of koi.

Tosai — (TOH sye) In its first year – up to one year old; referring to koi age. Baby koi. This year’s fish. Also referred to as ‘Koi in their first year’.

Tsubaki Sanke — (tsoo BAH kee SAHN keh) Aka Sanke (all red) with a chain of sumi (black) running the entire length of the koi.

Tsubo sumi — (TSOO boh SOO mee) Black pattern that appears on the white skin (as opposed to the Kasane sumi, which appears on the red markings.) Critical Sumi. Sumi that appears in a critical area that balances the pattern. May or may not appear in the Shiroji.

Tsubagin — (TSOO bah geen) See Pearl Ginrin.

Tsukitsuke — Hi pattern that runs over the head and touches the nose. Has less Hi than a Menkaburi (or Zukinkaburi) pattern where the Hi covers the head.

Tsuya — (TSOO yah) Another term for ‘luster’.



Umebachi — (OO meh BAH chee) Japanese apricot flower-shaped marking; i.e. Tancho spot.

Urishi — Deep dense black having a lacquered appearance and sharply defined edges.

Uroko kiwi — (oo ROH koh KEE wee) Scalloped kiwa (see maruzome).

Urushi Sumi — Best Sumi. Expression of highest quality Sumi. Urushi Sumi is Sumi that is shiny and has the depth of black lacquer. Opposite terms would be Nabe Sumi, Susu Sumi and Funa Sumi.

Urushizumi — (oo ROO shee ZOO mee) Jet-black, glossy sumi (black) with a ting of ai (blue) – also known as tsuyazumi.

Utsuri — (oot SOO ree) ‘Reflections’ or ‘relecting ones’. A two colored koi – always a black koi with one other color; white, red, or yellow patches or bands. Shiro Utsuri, Hi Utsuri, and Ki Utsuri.

Utsurimono — (oot SOO ree MOH noh) Formal name for Utsuri. ‘Reflections’ or ‘reflecting ones’; two colored ‘black based’ koi, white, red, and yellow markings.

Unwappi — (oon WAH pee) Thin hi (red). No sashi.



Vermin — Animals that try to eat your Nishikigoi. Happens when the pond is not deep or big enough and vermin can easily eat your koi fish.



Wabi — (WAH bee) Appearance of depth to the skin of scaled koi.

Wagoi — (WAH goy) Scaled koi – virtually all koi except Doitsu.



Yagozen — (YAH go zen) A Kohaku lineage, developed in the 1950’s.

Yakko Hi — Leading Hi. Yakko means ‘leading man of a daimyo’s precession line’. Hi in the gill area that is only seen on Asagi and Shusui. The term occurs because Koi with these markings resemble the face makeup of a leading man of a daimyo’s precession line. Hi on both gills is called Ryo Yakko. Hi on one side is called Kata Yakko. The optimal Yakko Hi forms a horseshoe shaped pattern that has white in the middle.

Yamabuki — (YAH mah BOO kee) Bright gold color, as in Yamabuki Ogon. Literally, a Japonica bush with pale yellow flowers. Used to refer to a koi with yellow color.

Yamabuki Hariwake –(YAH mah BOO kee) A platinum Koi with metallic yellow markings (Hikari Moyomono).

Yamabuki Ogon — (YAH mah BOO kee OH gahn) Metallic solid yellow. (Hikari Mujimono).

Yamato — (YAH mah toh) The result of a cross between a Sanke and a Fuji Ogon. One of the two varieties now known collectively as Yamato-nishiki.

Yamatonishiki — (YAH mah toh nee SHEE kee) Japanese brocade. A metallic white Koi with red and black markings,Metallic Sanke.

Yogyo — (YOHG yoh) Young fish.

Yon bu — (YOHN boo) Size four.

Yondan — (YAHN dahn) Four Step; as in Yondan Kohaku (4-Step Kohaku). Koi with four red patches on its white body.

Yondan Kohaku — (YAHN dahn koh HAH koo) A Kohaku with four red body markings.

Yonsai — (YAHN sye) Four year old koi.

Yoroi –- (yoh ROH) Translates to ‘armored’, usually referring to a doitsu koi with excessive mirror scales.

Yoroigoi — (yoh ROH ee goy) A koi with large armor scales all over its body.

Yotsujiro –-A black koi whose head, fins, and undersides are white.

Yotsushiro — (YOHT soo SHEE roh) Literally, ‘five whites’. A black Koi with white head, pectoral, dorsal and caudal fins (Kawarimono).



ZNA — Zen Nippon Airinkai is an international association for amateur koi keepers – a Nishikigoi Keepers Society with Chapters all around the world for the betterment of the hobby.

Zubonhaki — (ZOO bahn HAH kee) Where the latter half of the body (the tail end) is completely red or black.

Zukinkaburi — (ZOO KEEN kah boo ree) An early Kohaku whose name means wearing a hood. Zukin means ‘hood’, Kaburi means ‘wearing’. Term used to describe Nishikigoi that have a head that is fully covered with colour. The Koi would not have Shiroji in the gills or in the lower jaw. Another terms for Menkaburi. Nishikigoi with heads covered in red are called Aka Zukin and Koi with heads covered in black are called Kuro Zukin. These Koi are not considered beautiful.