Common Doesn’t Mean Boring: Exploring Hariwake Koi

Hariwake KoiThe Hariwake is one of the most common koi you’ll find in most retail stores, mainly because it’s relatively easy to breed and is very popular when found. It is also the most confusing pattern to correctly identify. As a two-colored, all-metallic fish, the Hariwake occurs in the class of fish called the Hikarimoyo-mono. Literally that means one color (mono) on a platinum (hikari) background.

Two Colors

To identify the Hariwake, you can start by looking for a two-color fish – a white background with either yellow or orange markings. The background white should be a platinum white. This means that the white is actually shimmering, metallic, or reflective, not just bright white. So for the purposes of this article, I will say “platinum” and mean metallic, shimmering white.

You will also find Hariwake – a platinum white fish with a yellow or orange pattern with and without scales. If it doesn’t have scales it’s called a Doitsu Orinje (Orange) or Yamabuki (Yellow) Hariwake. If it has scales then it’s just called an Orinje (Orange) or Yamabuki (Yellow) Hariwake. In my opinion, the most beautiful, desirable, and brightest looking Hariwake is the Doitsu or scaleless version. This is also the most commonly available version.

Any Other Colors?

Hariwake Koi in tubSo what about other colors? If there is black in the pattern, it is not a Hariwake; it is a Matsuba with a Hariwake pattern or a Hariwake Matsuba (not a Matsuba Hariwake). So why is it called a Hariwake Matsuba and not a Matsuba Hariwake? This is because there are no Matsuba Hariwakes and if there were, by definition it would have three colors and then it would not be a Hariwake. It’s not worth stopping someone about it. If you’re in a shop and someone wants to maintain that the Hariwake you’re about to buy is actually a Matsuba Hariwake, just let it slide.

A Hariwake that has red instead of orange isn’t a Hariwake at all. Instead, it actually falls into another category called Kohaku, which means red on white. In the case of a platinum fish (not just white) with bright red on it, it becomes an exceptional Kohaku.  know this all sounds crazy and confusing. When you cut out all the detail in the middle, it simply comes down to the fact that a Hariwake is a platinum fish with only one other color – either orange or yellow.

What’s in a Name?

Metallic Hariwake KoiKoi varieties can be very confusing to a person learning to identify them and their color patterns. Of course they make perfect sense to the Japanese breeder because they are simply words that have literal meaning to how the fish looks. For example, the variety name, “Ochiba Shigure,” literally means “fallen leaves in autumn shower in Japanese.” So in a way it would be as if we were naming our koi with terms that meant, “big white ones with red blotches” which, in a foreign language, might sound pretty darn cool!