Japan’s Koi fish are special in many ways besides their ornamental value and importance in Feng Shui. A recent report has revealed that one Koi fish went on to live for 226 years. While the average lifespan of a scarlet koi carp is around 40 years, this special fish named Hanako, born in 1751 in the middle of the Tokugawa era, went on to live well into the 1970s
The story of Hanako was first shared by her last owner Dr Komei Koshihara, President of Nagoya Women’s College, who made a national broadcast in 1966 on Nippon Hoso Kyokai radio station. In the broadcast Koshihara said that he knew Hanako's age because he got it verified by professor Masayuki Amano, who worked at the Laboratory of Animal Science of the Nagoya Women's College.
Koshihara described Masayuki as a noted carp enthusiast who worked at the Fisheries Experimental Station in the carp producing Niigata Prefecture. The professor analysed two of Hanako’s scales that had been extracted and studied over the course of two months. The professor counted the rings of growth on her scales to determine her age.
The English transcript from the broadcast was shared by hanakokoi.com where Koshihara was quoted saying that Masayuki believed that he has seen some carp more than 100 years old, but none so old as more than 200 years, and one so old as 215 years. Koshihara described his pet fish as “precious beyond all measure, from the scientific point of view.”
However, it should not be mistaken that the old age of the Koi fish would have hampered its active nature. In the 1966 broadcast Koshihara mentioned that Hanako was still in perfect condition and swam about majestically in a quiet rivulet descending from Mt. Ontake in a short distance. The fish weighed about 7.5 kilograms and measured 70 centimeters in length. Koshihara described it as his dearest friend and said that when he called her saying “Hanako! Hanako!” from the edge of the pond the fish came swimming to his feet without any fear.
The fish was passed down to Koshihara from his grandmother on the maternal side who in turn was told by her mother-in-law that when she was married into the family, her mother-in-law said to her that the carp has been handed down to them from olden times and she must take good care of it.