The oldest koi in the world was reported to be 226 years of age. This is a legend typically heard at koi shows, a place filled with the people that love koi the most, though this fish was reputed to be not the most striking color, and not an amazing show fish. I would venture to say though, that Hanako was the most beloved koi ever.
Translated as “Flower Girl”, Hanako spent her long life in the hands of generations of the Koshihara family, who loved her as jewels, because she was so special. Each family member charged with her care received instructions to ensure her health and welfare for the length of their lives.
She was estimated to be hatched in the year 1751, 5 years before before Mozart, 19 years before Beethoven, and 58 years before Abraham Lincoln. That was 25 years before our nation’s founders signed The Declaration of Independence. She died in July of 1977, and was mourned by a nation of koi lovers.
She spent her life in the crystal clear waters of a pond less than 20′ across, at the base of Mount Ontake, in the Mino Province of Japan, along with five other koi reported to be also over a hundred years each.
Researchers at Nagoya Women’s College had determined her age based on the growth rings on her scales, similar to the way a tree’s age is determined by its growth rings. It took two months of studying the scales through a light microscope to determine how many rings there were. Though not one hundred percent accurate, due to weather patterns, and food availability, they feel this estimate was very good.
People still talk of Hanako today, wondering if the legend is true, and wishing their koi will live as long.
The Pond Digger