片目の鯉 (katame no koi)
This top depicts a one-eyed koi. According to Hiroi-sensei, this image comes from a tale about a giant koi (nearly 2 meters, or 6.5 feet) that lived in the moat of the imperial palace. The story goes that the fish wanted desperately to become a dragon, and one day, because the rainfall was so heavy, he thought he could make it up to the heavens by riding the rain. But in the end, he couldn’t reach heaven, and as he fell back down, he crashed into the guardrail of a bridge and lost his eye. Hiroi-sensei thinks it might be a story originating from the Edo period (1600-1868).
Hiroi Michiaki: And this is another [top] with an interesting story, called the “one-eyed koi.” If you spin this, it gets wrapped around here and the fish rises up to the top.
Mrs. Hiroi: Yeah, it goes around and around and around.
Hiroi: And this, long ago, um… the Imperial Palace, the place where the Emperor lives, in the moat there, there was a koi that lived in it that was about six shaku long, so about 2 meters. And… there was a story that the koi, he wanted to ascend to the heavens and become a dragon, right? And one day, there was really heavy rainfall, so at the time he thought “Ahh, I can make it up to heaven if it’s like this!” and he tried to ascend. But he couldn’t make it and he fell, and he smashed up one of his eyes on the guardrail. So he was the one-eyed koi. I heard from my father that the fish lived up until recently. Hahahahaha. And so I made that. I don’t know when the story is from, though. Probably from the Edo period. I think it’s probably a story from around where Tokugawa Ieyasu built Edo castle.