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Koi Varieties



Kawarimono is a catch-all class for all of the other varieties of koi other than the standard twelve classes, or are too different to be recognized as koi of a certain lineage. They are placed in this group because their pattern is quite different compared to the types in that variety. Such examples include the Aka Hajiro of the Kohaku and the Kage Showa of the Showa lineage. Crosses of two varieties include Showa Shusui and Goshiki. Although it may take many years to establish a new variety that breeds true, such a new variety will be classed as Kawarimono until it is recognized and promoted to its own variety. A good example is the fairly recent promotion of the Goshiki into its own class in the United Kingdom. Kawarimono consists mainly of non-metallic koi with the exception of the Kikokuryu. The list is comprehensive and one can write a book on just these varieties, but here are some of the favorites amongst koi keepers. At the end of this article, I have placed a few of the variety names as well as the pronounciation.

Karasugoi or crow carp family is black koi with various white markings on the body and fins. Hajiro is a black koi with white only on the tail and pectoral fin tips. Hageshiro is a black koi with white on the tail and pectoral fin tips as well as  on the head. Yotsushiro is a Hageshiro with an all white head.  Matsukawabake is a fully scaled version of the Kumonruy and changes from black to gray depending on water temperature forming a black net pattern. Kumonryu, fondly referred to as the killer whale is a doitsu koi with killer whale pattern. This pattern may change shape as the kumonryu develops and sometime the fish will turn all black or all white with maturity. Then you get the Beni Kumonryu, with hi markings added to the sumi and white of the Kumonryu.



There is a new variety that has been put into Kawarimono that is metallic. The Kikokuryu, is a metallic Kumonryu. It may someday be moved to the Hikari Moyo class since Kawarimono is for non-metallic koi that don't fit into any of the other classes. Mr Kiyoshi Kase of Koshiji Koi Farm explain further: “ I also created a variety called Benikumonryu by crossing Kikusui and Kumonryu. Hi normally doesn't appear on Kumonryu's body, but I first crossed a Doitsu Showa and got a Kumonryu with hi bloodline. Then I crossed it with Kikusui and successfully got a Kumonryu with hi, and that's how Beni Kumonryu came into the world. (Kumonryu with shine is Kikokuryu, Kumonryu with hi is Beni Kumonryu, and Beni Kumonryu with shine is Kin Kikokuryu.)”

“Kage” means “shadow” or “phantom” and it refers to the grey-black pattern which covers many of the back scales. Kage Utsuri has such s blurred reticulated pttern. Kage Utsuri should have have a clear and deep sumi pattern over the kage scales. Kage Showa are Showa with the shadow Sumi and reticulate pattern basically on the white portions. These koi must have the clear, solid Sumi of the Showa, as well as the normal beautiful tricolour pattern. This group also include the Hi Utsuri.

Goshiki, meaning 5 colors, are white with a red Kohaku pattern and two shades of blue and black netting not only on the red but also on the white. Goshiki means five colours. The history is a little blurred but a certain school of thought promotes the idea that Goshiki were first produced by crossing Asagi with Aka Bekko or Aka Sanke. Today, however, the Goshiki come from an Asagi X Taisho Sanshoku cross. They have the light and dark blue  of the Asagi and the three colours of the Taisho Sanshoku, giving them an overall purplish appearance. Deeply coloured Hi in a Kohaku pattern is preferred. It is important for Goshiki to have a clean red and white head with no sumi markings, although I have seen stunning Goshiki with sumi marking on the head. The ground colour is light in Kindai Goshiki and dark blue in Kuro Goshiki. Cool water can darken the background colours.


Chagoi are brown/green tea colored carp. These koi grow fast and very large and become the favorite in the pond by their friendliness. They love to eat and can have a calming effect on the rest of a collection. Young Chagoi are greenish but become brownish as they grow, and show a slight reticulate pattern. Large ones are worth appreciation .Also in solid colors are the Kigoi (yellow koi), Soragoi (gray blue koi), Midorigoi (green koi), Benigoi (red koi), Aka Hijiro ( red koi with white fin tips) and Shiro Muji (white koi).


Ochiba-shigure are koi with green/brown patterns on a grey reticulated bacground. Ochiba–shigure  came from the Chagoi line, which in turn came from the Ogon. Some of them are excellent, as each scale appears clearly defined. The Doitsu lineage are very beautiful, and are sought by some fanciers. This koi reminds people of autumn leaves on water because the hi shows up as a bright orange/gold pattern on a blue/gray body with black netting over the whole body. The Doitsu version of Ochiba Shigure has been called “antique” due to the colors.


Non-metallic Matsuba are also in this class. Aka (red) Matsuba, Ki Matsuba and Shiro Matsuba. There are also Doitsu versions of all of the above.

Kanoko which means "fawn" refers to the red dappled pattern found on some koi, such as "Kanoko Kohaku", "Kanoko Sanshoku" and Kanoko Showa". Incompletely or spotty dappled patterns are undesirable. Koi with red dapples forming clumps like bunches of grapes are called "Goten-zakura". The Hikari forms of Kanoko Kohaku and Goten-zakura are called "Sakura Ogon" and "Kin-zakura" respectively.

Ki-goi are koi with a bright yellow body. There are also albino Ki-goi (For a lack of a better word) with red eyes which should not be crossed with koi that have black eyes. However, they are interesting from a genetic point of view. Red eyes are also sometimes found in white koi, Kohaku, and Platinum Ogon. Albinos of the Kohaku tend to have brownish, dapple-patterned Hi.  
Midori-goi are a hybrid of a female Shusui and a male Yamabuki Ogon. They are green koi with either black or silvery scales, and because they are of the Shusui blood, the colouration as they mature tends to become blackish or whitish green. The Midori-goi should have clear, unspotted heads and neatly aligned scales along the dorsal ridge. Backcrossing the Midori-goi to the Shusui Yoshioka produce "Zuiun", whitish koi with a purplish blue back, "Kinshu", orangish bodied koi with a greenish blue back, "Raigo", Zuiun with Hi on the abdomen, and "Enyu" Zuiun with Hi on the back,too.

Sanshoku Shusui with a blue back typical of the Shusui, plus a Taisho Sanshoku pattern. "Showa Shusui" likewise with a Shusui base over which the Showa Sanshoku pattern appears, should have a beautiful blue plus the deep Sumi of the Showa lineage. The "Goshiki Shusui" a hybrid of the Goshiki and the Shusui is an elegant koi. The "Bunka Sanshoku" or "Kintobi" is produced from Taisho Sanshoku X Shusui crosses, and are Taisho Sanshoku with shiny pectoral fins.

KAWARIGOI (ka-wah-ree-goy)

Kumonryu (Dragon Koi) (koo-mohn-roo): A black and white scaleless Koi on which the pattern changes throughout the year.


Beni Kumonryu ( ben-ee-koo mon-roo): Kumonryu with red. Young Beni Kumonryu is shown on the right.

                beni20kumonryu      beni_komunryu

Kikokuryu (key-koh-koo-roo): Metallic kumonryu. A black and white Koi with a pattern that can change throughout the year.

Beni Kikokuryu (ben-ee key-koh-koo-roo): Metallic Beni Kumonryu.


Haijiro (hi-jeer-oh): Black Koi with white on the tips of the pectoral fins. Red version: Aka Haijiro

                            haijiro_002         aka_haijiro_2

Benigoi (ben-ee-goy): Non-metallic solid color red Koi.


Matsukawa Bakke (maht-soo kah-wah-bah-key): Black and white Koi. Predecessor to the Kumonryu ( Kumonryu with scales) In this instance, Gin Rin scalation.


Ochiba Shigure (oh-chee-buh she-goo-rah) A grey or blue bodied Koi with chocolate brown or rust pattern, often showing a reticulation on the scales like the Asagi.


(chah-goy):  Non-metallic solid brown, tan (tea colored) or olive green koi.


Cha-Utsuri: Chagoi with deep well defined sumi markings. If you find a decent one, buy it!


Kage (Kah’ geh): Shade, shadow or phantom pattern that appear where sumi is


Karasu (kah-raj-soo): Non-metallic solid black Koi, often called a crow Koi.


Kigoi (key-goy):  Non-metallic solid yellow Koi


Koyogoi: Non-metallic cream/white and yellow Koi Gin Rin Koyogoi in right hand picture.

 koyogoi       koyogoi3

(me-doe-ree-goy): Non-metallic solid green Koi bred by crossing Shusui and Yamabuki Ogon. This variety does not breed true yet.


(sor-oh goy): Non-metallic solid grey Koi. This example has Gin Rin scalation


Karashigoi, meaning mustard is easily confused with light coloured Chagoi or Kigoi. This variety is reputedly the result of a cross between Chagoi and Kigoi. Many sceptics maintain that it is a light coloured Chagoi and the name Karashigoi was invented for marketing purposes.

         karashigoi      doitsu_karashigoi
                                                                                                                    Photo by Mark Gardner

Nanashigoi with its roots from the Asagi lineage has yellow- green Kanoko markings. Such a specimen can be quite stunning in a pond. Young koi om the left and the same koi when matured on the right

                   nanashigoi1   nanashigoi2
                   Photo: Koiphen

Aya Wakaba or Ayawakaba, means "colorful young leaf" in English. This is a rare variety that only Yamanaka Oya Koi Farm produce in Japan. It was bred through the mating of Shusui and Midorigoi.

ayawakaba  ayawakaba1                                                  

Updated 28 June 2010

Last Updated on Friday, 20 December 2013 12:10