Goldfish Diary
2008 - Issue 1
Goldfish Culture - Goldfish in Japan

In this article, we present our view of the interesting goldfish culture in Japan.

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Japan Goldfish Culture

Print of goldfish peddler in the era of the Sumurai

Few cultures presents the contrast and harmony with which modern living and traditional cultures co-exist as The Land of the Rising Sun. Being one of the most developed and technologically advanced countries in the world, the traditional art of goldfish culture in Japan portrays yet another interesting façade to the aquatic world.

Goldfish was introduced into Japan via China in the sixteenth century where they were popular and kept only by the aristocracy and samurai. The Japanese set up breeding programs and eventually developed their unique strains of goldfish. Some of the well-known varieties created in Japan are the Japanese Ranchu, Tosakin, Jikin, Nankin and Ryukin. Most of these varieties are still developed to be appreciated from the top view.

Horiguchi Rukins
The Horiguchi family is one of the most famous
Ryukin breeder for generations

Master Horiguchi-san coaching apprentice
on culling the Ryukins

A typical Japanese Ryukin

The Japanese's passion for perfection is also reflected in their goldfish culture. Due to the strong emphasis on pedigree and bloodline, inbreeding and line-breeding are practiced extensively to enhance desired features. Hobbyist clubs specializing in specific variety of goldfish frequently exchange breeder fishes to improve their bloodline. Proven seed fishes were also bred for many years, some bloodlines has been line-bred for more than a few decades!

The focus on perfecting features in existing breeds has made it possible for avid Japanese hobbyists with very limited space to produce very high quality fishes. In contrast, the Chinese goldfish fanciers' preference for variations and extraordinary traits in goldfish spurs the demand for exotic varieties of goldfish. New varieties are created every other year with extensive cross variety breeding and outcrosses. The scale of such experimentation and resources make it only feasible for commercial goldfish farmers with huge plots of farmland to produce China's top quality goldfish. A single goldfish farming pond in China could easily be much bigger than the whole compound of the Japanese commercial breeders.

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Place where goldfish are auction in bulk numbers
Ranchu auction conducted yearly by one of the clubs in Japan
Ranchu pond in a farm
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