The colorful carp, or Koi in Japanese, is one of the most common motifs in oriental-style tattoo designs. It is hardly a surprise because this beautiful fish has always held a special place in Chinese and Japanese culture.
For centuries in the Far East, they have been kept as pets with the belief that they bring good luck, prosperity and longevity to a family.
In fact, there is a very popular folklore about the koi that makes the fish such an evergreen subject in all forms of oriental art, not just tattoos. Legend has it that each year, a school of koi will swim upstream towards the falls at the Yellow River.
The fish that is able to beat the strong currents and climb up the falls to reach the Dragon Gate will transform into a majestic dragon.
Based on the folklore, the koi has come to symbolize ambition, perseverance in the face of adversary, aspirations, progress, transformation for the better and achievement against all odds. If you have overcame seemingly insurmountable odds to arrive at where you are in life, a koi tattoo can be a great self-reward. Not to mention, it will be a permanent reminder of your own hard work, determination and fortitude.