The world has been privileged to be the home of an incredibly beautiful fish for over two centuries! Yup, 226 years, to be exact!
Born in 1751, Hanako, the koi fish with an amazing lifespan, died on 7 July 1977.
During her life, Hanako, which means “flower girl/maid” in Japanese, was owned by the Koshihara clan of the Tokugawa era. She had several owners, and the last one was Dr. Komei Koshihara.
Her age was determined by examining her scales. Fish have growth rings on their scales known as annuli, similar to the rings of trees.
By counting them using a light microscope, they discovered that she was the oldest koi carp in the world and the longest-living freshwater fish to ever exist on record.
They removed two scales from different parts of the body with tweezers, and for more than two months, professor Masayoshi Hiro of Laboratory of Animal Science, Nagoya Women’s University analyzed them.
At the time, in 1966, she weighed 7.5 kg (16.5 lbs) and was 70 cm (27.5 inches) long.
Fish Laboratory explained:
“It is quite common to witness a koi that is over a century old in Japan. This is one of the reasons why koi fish have gained so much admiration in Japan and the rest of the world as well.
Environmental factors that contribute to a long lifespan are clean water, nutritionally balanced fish feed, and long cold winters. The cold season will slow down the koi’s metabolism drastically. During this period, the fish may eat very little to none. “
On May 25, 1966, Dr. Komei Koshihara revealed the story of Hanako.
He made a broadcast to the whole Japanese nation through Nippon Hoso Kyokai Radio Station, and explained that he inherited the koi from his grandmother on his maternal side, who had inherited the fish from “olden times.”
He said that the koi fish was his dearest friend.
While the world is still confused by the longevity of this fish, many believe that the two main factors that caused her to live so long are the love and care of her owners and clear waters of the Japanese mountains.
Dr. Komei Koshihara explained that she spent most of her life in a quiet pond at the foot of Mt. Ontake in a locality near Oppara, Higashi-Shirakawa Village, Kamo County. She shared the pond with 5 other Koi who all lived to be well over 100 years old too.
His ancestors carefully constructed the ravine to ensure the wellbeing of Hanako. He believes that in this way, the fish knew she was fondly loved by the family, and they considered her a member of it.
Dr. Koshihara maintained that she was very hand-tame and whenever he called her, she would come to the edge of the pond to be petted and fed!