Watching Kois in West Lake (Xihu) Hangzhou, China

Last Summer, the World Heritage Committee has inscribed the West Lake Cultural Landscape of Hangzhou on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. The inscribed landscape has inspired famous poets, scholars and artists since the 9th century. It comprises numerous temples, pagodas, pavilions, gardens and ornamental trees, as well as causeways and artificial islands.  The West Lake has influenced garden design in the rest of China as well as Japan and Korea over the centuries and bears an exceptional testimony to the cultural tradition of improving landscapes to create a series of vistas reflecting an idealised fusion between humans and nature

We knew it wasn’t the best time of the year for visiting West Lake in Hangzhou China. It was November, the sky was hazy and it was cool when we landed at the airport.

Early next morning, we started our exploration of the lake which is listed by UNESCO. We strolled along the banks of the West Lake, wandering into an area which is known as “Orioles Singing in the Willows “.

The view was refreshingly green. There were willows everywhere and the place looked very tranquil; although we didn’t see or hear any orioles.

As we wandered further along the bank of the lake, the rain began to fall.

We have a good watch of wild ducks swimming in the water and the whole lake with willows on the bank looked so serene.

Strolled further along, we were awed by view with this traditional Chinese bridge standing out of the water on the other side of the lake.

Not deterred by the rain, we walked further along and crossed the  footbridge (below).

We came to a lake where schools of bright-colored kois were  swimming ; they were mainly red and orange in color.

It was a joy to watch the kois admist the rain. The sky turned dark and this imparted a blue hue on the water surface. The whole thing started looking like a painting. Rain drops shooting into the water and spreading out as  ripples.

The kois swam underneath the water and only surfaced when they spotted food on the water surface. The kois swimming in the lake were just like impressionist paintings with a blue background. The contrasting  red and orange colors were in an ever-changing pattern of different spatial dispersion and intensity.

I was entranced by their movements, sometimes swimming together, came up to the surface and compete for the food they found.

I could see the individual droplets of rain hitting the surface  of the water and the resulting ripples spreading out.

I thought I could stay here all day gazing how the kois came together against the blue background. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

For related post ” The Last Days of Autumn in West Lake, China”, please see

98 thoughts on “Watching Kois in West Lake (Xihu) Hangzhou, China

    • Hi Qiquan, first please excuse me for not being able to type Chinese characters. With your peotic disposition, I am sure you will like Xihu in the rain. The feeling I have this time is quite different from previous. Although I have not been able to take as many pictures as I would have liked because of the rain, the pictures do give a feel of serenity and even somewhat melancholy! Michael

    • Dear Michael,

      I like to go to the same place many times, with different atmosphere, weather etc. This is the way to know a place we love. Taking photo in the rain, or in raining, can be a opportunity sometime to get some beautiful and very different shots. I come to learn this sometime ago, because when we feel the beauty with our heart, we will come to see the opportunity for a beautiful shot. It’s a challenge, I know, to discover the secret of nature.

      Thank you for your wonderful reply, and when I am visiting their, I don’t want to bring my sadness there, the poems I have written, are too intense for me because all are my true feelings, and life experiences. I know, I am still too young to you =).


    • Hi Qiquan, usually my trips are relatively short and I have no choice on the weather, so come rain, come shine, I will get my camera out and take photos of whatever I consider appealing. Thanks for the comment! Michael

    • Hi, you will like the place. The local authorities has lots of bicycles for rent where you can pick up one at one place and return it at another place.. A very nice place to visit . . . . . .

    • For ages, West Lake is a well known tourist destination. Not sure why it was only added by UNESCO last year. Your comment about my description is very encouraging! Regards, Michael

    • Hi travelelynne,the place is poetic, many poets have came up with very good peoms there. Glad that you like my words and thank you for the very kind comment! Mihael

    • Hi yepirategunn, thanks for your always encouraging comment! Westlake is in Hangzhou. Both Hangzhou and Shouzhou have great Chinese gardens which have influenced the garden designs in China and other places overseas. Regards, Michael

    • Hi angelamsbrightside, glad that you like the pictures. I especially like the penultimate picture with the kois clattering together to the water surface. Thanks for the comment! Michael

  1. I lived in Hangzhou for 2 years recently. I loved going to Xi Hu often because there is so much to see in that area, and it is different depending on the weather. Lovely photos!

    • You are lucky to have lived out there for 2 years. I am sure you are more knowledgable of the place. This is the first time that we walked all four sides of the lake and also took a trip to XiXi. Thanks foor the comment! Michael

  2. Love how the rain has brought a dream-like state to your photos. I don’t know what it is about kois but I could watch them all day and take a ton of photos – my husband doesn’t understand my fascination with them, lol!

    • I too can look at kois all day. Individually, I like them with a good mix of colors. But in schools, I rather like them in different shades of similar colors, rushing about in groups like what I have shown in the pictures. Thanks for the comments May!

  3. These pictures are beautiful, Michael! Amazing to see these big, pretty Koi fish in the lake and you caught them in the middle of the movement. Your pictures are excellent! Have a lovely weekend!🙂 Best wishes from this side of the world🙂

    • Hi happyface313, glad that you like the photos. Your fashion design is amazing too! Thanks for the encouraging comment and have a great weekend! Regards, Michael

    • Thank you, Michael! I am off traveling. Will post photos from there🙂 I trust it will be something interesting for you too, you globetrotter🙂 HAve a great weekend!

    • Hi happyface313, it is amazing that you post photos while travelling, I have never done that before! For sure, I will be interested to peruse your posts. Safe travels and regards, Michael

    • Hi ljr3, as winter was approaching, there weren’t many vistors especially where we watched the kois. So it was tranquil and serene! Thanks for the comment, Michael

  4. Michael, thanks for liking my post and helping me discover your blog. The koi in your picture reminded me of a beautiful water garden we came across on our travels through Japan.
    Agree – I could watch them all day too!

    • The orientals like kois very much. A favourite subject for are 9 kois in a painting for the Chinese as it signifies fortune and bliss. It looks like we share the same joy of watching kois. Thanks for the comment! Michael

  5. Wonderful photos as usual!

    My wife has been bugging me about taking her to China for several years now. After looking at your pictures and prose over the past few months I think I will let you plan my itinerary🙂

    • I will be pleased to give some suggestions on tours to China, but it depends a lot on what you like to see and how much of China you have already covered and which month you will be there. I think my posts may serve as inital screening. Thanks for your kind comment balltobay! Michael

  6. Michael, that second picture from the bottom (with all the koi swirling up to the surface) is amazing. The picture itself is mesmerizing- I can only imagine what it was like in real life. Great post.

    • Hi msdulce, I agree the penultimate picture is the best of the lot. With several photos to show, I have tried to build up the atmosphere before reading this photo. Real life will be more interesting as you can actually see the movements in close-ups! Michael

  7. Hi Michael

    I really enjoyed your post. Some beautiful pictures as always. You really do get about! I would like to share the first picture in the series if that is alright in tomorrow’s post at soulsnet. The post is about making time for ourselves and I am including a photograph that I took on my local golf course. I couldn’t believe your first shot here, it could just as easily be a picture of one of our fairways.

    I will credit and link back to you of course.
    Thanks so much for visiting and liking soulsnet. I really appreciate it.


  8. Pingback: How can I create more time for myself? | soulsnet

    • In West Lake, they have a tourist spot known as “Flower Harbor Watching Fishes” where they also have a lot of kois; but I think the area I went for watching kois is more natural and better.

  9. West Lake is so beautiful and enchanting. I had the privilege to see its beauty on a rowboat in June two years ago. No wonder Marco Polo described Hangzhou as the most magnificent place in the world. Thank you for sharing these lovely pictures.

    • I was surprised that UNESCO only include it on their list last June. This time I was able to walk all four sides of the lake. Thanks for the kind comment! Michael

  10. Pingback: the koi and us « my sweetpainteddreams

  11. Pingback: The Last Days of Autumn in West Lake, China « retireediary

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