If you look back to December 2015, the first post I made on this blog was about a little green fish with an upturned mouth and a flapping tail.
Last week I met his cousin.
My first green fish was really my first, meaning my first hashioki. That fish was carved from translucent nephrite, and was shown lying on his or her side.
My more recent green fish is ceramic, and is glazed in the pale color known as celadon that is so popular in Asian ceramics. This fish is shown in a position that I suspect is anatomically impossible for a fish – basically the fish is trying to do a sit-up – but I think the pose is supposed to suggest a fish frolicking or jumping in the waves. The vendor on eBay who sold this fish said that it was an “estate sale find,” and I think the fish has a kind of old-fashioned, pre-Pacific War vibe to it. Even though it’s not as detailed as my first fish, I think this little green guy is also charming.
Both these fish are koi, which is the name of the large goldfish you sometimes see in garden ponds. They could also be described as carp. Carp are a very popular image in Japan because they are reputed to be a very strong fish that will swim upstream against the current and jump over rocks and waterfalls in order to get to where it’s going. So the carp is associated with perseverance, a highly prized attribute in Japan. There is even a professional baseball team in Japan called the Hiroshima Toyo Carp.
Can you imagine a baseball team in the United States called something like the Galveston Goldfish? I think not.