- "The children of the forest, the Kokiri, live here with me. Each Kokiri has his or her own guardian fairy. However, there is one boy who does not have a fairy..."
- — Great Deku Tree
The Kokiri (コキリ Kokiri?) also known as Forest Folk, Forest Spirits, Fairy Folk, Kokiri Tribe, Forest Fairies, and Children of the Forest are a recurring race from the Legend of Zelda series. They are a diminutive and secretive race of forest spirits who take on the appearance of Hylian children and are native to Kokiri Forest and the Lost Woods. Each Kokiri is accompanied by a guardian fairy that functions as a friend, protector, parent and teacher. These fairies also help the Kokiri to stay in contact with one another and find their way in the Lost Woods. The Kokiri believe they will die if they leave the forest, and therefore, they usually never leave their safe haven and know nothing about the outside world; however, during the ending of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, it is shown that the Kokiri can indeed travel beyond the forest limits, as some of them attend the party at Lon Lon Ranch. Some characters in other parts of Hyrule refer to Link as a "fairy boy" from the forest, indicating that the outside world at least knows of the Kokiri's existence although most have never seen one. In The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, the Kokiri are revealed to be the ancestors of Koroks, a race of friendly, wood skinned, tree-beings who travel beyond the forest to plant trees. The Koroks that appear in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild are sometimes referred to as "forest kids" and possess child-like personalities though their relation to the ancient Kokiri tribe seems to have been largely forgotten even by the Koroks themselves.
The protector and father of the Kokiri is the Great Deku Tree, and their self-appointed "boss" is Mido. All Kokiri are ageless, and while they appear as Hylian children, most have existed for centuries prior to the events of Ocarina of Time. The Kokiri are known as "the spirits of the forest" and were possibly created by the Great Deku Tree, although according to the official Nintendo strategy guide, they were originally Hylian children that wandered into Kokiri Forest and were transformed by the mystical powers of the region. They are well-known for their distinctive and traditional green garb.
The symbol used to represent the Kokiri is reminiscent of the shape of the Kokiri's Emerald, the Spiritual Stone of Forest. This symbol is found on the Deku Shield and as engravings inside the Forest Temple.
The Kokiri reside within Kokiri Forest, where they are protected by their father, the Great Deku Tree. Link is an orphan who was adopted by the Deku Tree and raised as a Kokiri, believing himself to be one. However, as evil forces seek to bring destruction to the forest, the clairvoyant Deku Tree foresees Link's part in the events to come and sends Navi the fairy to bring Link to him. After Link obtains the Kokiri Sword, a treasure of the Kokiri, as well as a Deku Shield, Mido reluctantly allows him to pass through to the Great Deku Tree's Meadow. The Great Deku Tree speaks of a curse placed on him by Ganondorf, a wicked sorcerer from the desert. He asks Link to venture inside of him to destroy the source of the curse within. Together with Navi, Link braves the dangers inside of the Deku Tree and the two successfully destroy Queen Gohma. As Link returns to the Great Deku Tree, however, the tree reveals that he knew he was facing certain death even before he summoned Link to him. After bestowing upon Link the Kokiri's Emerald, the sacred Spiritual Stone of the Kokiri, he asks Link to travel to Hyrule Castle and meet with the Princess of Destiny in order for them to work together to stop Ganondorf - his dying wish. The wise tree then passes away. Upon leaving the grove, Mido blames Link for the death of the Great Deku Tree. Despite warnings that the Kokiri must never leave the safety of the forest, Link has no choice but to leave for Hyrule Castle. His friend Saria bids him farewell and presents him with the Fairy Ocarina as a memento of their friendship.
Later, Link returns to the forest to meet with Saria, whom he meets in the Sacred Forest Meadow deep within the Lost Woods. Saria teaches Link "Saria's Song", which is used to communicate with her as well as being a symbol of his friendship with Saria. With the help of Saria, Link retrieves the two other Spiritual Stones, but as he travels to Hyrule Castle Town to deliver the stones to Zelda, the Princess and her attendant, Impa, escape from the castle area on horseback. Zelda manages to toss the Ocarina of Time into a nearby moat before vanishing out of sight. Ganondorf appears, and mockingly knocks Link down with magic before chasing after the princess and Impa. Link retrieves the Ocarina of Time and plays the "Song of Time" before the altar in the Temple of Time. This opens the doorway to the chamber of the Master Sword. Link removes the sword from its pedestal, sealing him inside the Chamber of Sages for seven years. In the meanwhile, Ganondorf, who had followed Link, touches the Triforce and the Great Cataclysm commences. Link awakens seven years later as an adult and returns to Kokiri Forest only to find it overrun with monsters, forcing the Kokiri to hide away inside their houses. In the Lost Woods, Link meets Mido, who does not recognize him. After Link plays "Saria's Song", acknowledging him as a friend of Saria, Mido lets him pass. Inside the Forest Temple, Link finds that the Sage of Forest is his old friend Saria, who presents him with the Forest Medallion to aid him in his quest. The defeat of the dungeon's boss restores peace to the forest, and Link is transported to the Great Deku Tree's Meadow, where the Deku Tree Sprout tells Link about his past - how he was brought to the forest by a Hylian woman, and was subsequently taken in by the Great Deku Tree, who sensed the heroic potential in him. After the successful defeat of Ganon, who is sealed away by the Seven Sages, the Kokiri travel to Lon Lon Ranch to celebrate the new era of peace, revealing that they had no reason to ever fear leaving the forest. Saria, being a sage, does not return to Kokiri Forest, and Mido mourns the loss of her during the celebration of peace that commences.
Fado plays a small part in the trading quest for Biggoron's Sword. In the Lost Woods, Link reunites Grog with his pet Cojiro, and having gained Grog's trust, Link is asked to deliver an Odd Mushroom to the old lady who owns Granny's Potion Shop. Link is given a time limit before the mushroom spoils. Upon successful delivery, Granny concocts an Odd Potion from the mushroom, which Link accepts without completely understanding why. Returning to the place where Grog sat, Link finds Fado in his place, who explains that he has become lost in the forest and been transformed into a Stalfos. She asks that Link return the medicine, made from forest materials, to her in exchange for the Poacher's Saw she holds, since the forest materials are sacred and this specimen was wrongfully removed.
The knowledgeable Know-It-All Brothers serve as part of the game's tutorial, and several other unnamed Kokiri aid Link throughout his quest, though they do not recognize him as an adult.
Hundreds of years have passed since the events of Ocarina of Time, the legend of which is still told on the islands of the Great Sea. Due to the Great Flood, the Kokiri have, over time, turned into Koroks: a race of tree-like, peaceful plant beings. Upon arriving in the Forest Haven, Link rescues the Great Deku Tree from a multitude of ChuChus. The grateful Deku Tree promises Link a reward for his courage, and summons forth all the Koroks to meet him. Link's arrival coincides with an annual event known as the Korok Ceremony, and the Koroks invite Link to join them in the festivities; however, Makar, the Korok responsible for playing the traditional festival music has been trapped inside the Forbidden Woods. Using Baba Buds to ascend to the top of the Great Deku Tree, Link finds the aforementioned reward, a Deku Leaf, on top of one of the highest branches, and uses this to reach the Forbidden Woods. After the defeat of the dungeon's boss, Link rescues the lost Korok, and they return to the Forest Haven to begin the festival. Makar's violin playing allows the Great Deku Tree to produce seeds, so that the Koroks may plant them on islands across the Great Sea in an effort to restore the forests of Hyrule. As thanks, the Great Deku Tree presents Link with Farore's Pearl, and he is welcome to come back at any time.
Later, Link must restore the power to the Master Sword, whose protective sages had been murdered by the servants of an escaped Ganondorf. Link travels to the Wind Temple, where he meets the ghost of Fado, the Kokiri Sage of Wind. Fado asks him to find his successor, who is located on one of the islands of the Great Sea. Link plays the "Wind God's Aria" for Makar, awakening him as the new sage. The two return to the Wind Temple, and work together to solve the puzzles inside the dungeon. After the defeat of Molgera, Fado's assassin, the Wind Sage and his successor play the "Wind God's Aria" in unison, restoring part of the Master Sword's power. Makar remains within the temple to pray for the Master Sword's continued restoration.
While the Kokiri themselves do not appear in Tri Force Heroes, they are mentioned and referenced by one of Link's obtainable outfits, the Kokiri Clothes which, according to its in-game description, was inspired by the fashion-forward Kokiri Tribe.
- "Legends say these trousers were once worn by a hero who traveled through time. They were originally made by people who made their home in the forest."
- — Trousers of Time description
In Breath of the Wild, it is implied that like in The Wind Waker the Kokiri have evolved into the Korok by the time of Breath of the Wild. Interestingly the Kokiri are never mentioned by name, though they are referenced in the description of the Trousers of Time which are based on the tights and Kokiri Boots worn by the adult Hero of Time in Ocarina of Time. Koroks are also known as children of the forest (or simply forest kids) and are shown to be somewhat child-like and sometimes play childish pranks on Hylians and even other Koroks. Unlike the Kokiri they are numerous and capable of living practically anywhere regardless of climate or dangers though it is suggested Koroks cannot normally be seen by most people and monsters pay no attention to them. They retain the Kokiri's knowledge of wood working which they use to create high quality wooden Forest Dweller's Shields and weapons for Hylians. They also understand Hylian culture, eating habits, and even awareness of things like tin cans. Some of their understanding of Hylian culture and diet was presumably inherited from the ancient Kokiri. Though they no longer have guardian Fairies, they apparently maintain good relations with fairies as the young Hylian Ena tells Link that a male fairy she had befriended told her that if one is nice to a big forest kid the forest kid will increase their inventory. Additionally Fairies can be found in the area on top of the Great Deku Tree where the Korok Walton can be found. The lack of mention of the Kokiri indicates that the Kokiri likely evolved into the Korok long before the events of Breath of the Wild and probably occurred so long ago that the existence of the Kokiri themselves has been forgotten or faded into legend.
Additionally two areas in the Great Hyrule Forest, Lake Saria and Mido Swamp are references to the Kokiri Sage Saria and their leader Mido from Ocarina of Time. Given Breath of the Wild occurs after Ocarina of Time, its possible these locations were named after Saria and Mido as both were important Kokiri of the past whom were old childhood acquaintances of the Hero of Time.
It is possible that the green-clad Twin Lumberjacks from The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past inspired the race. This is likely due to the fact that the Japanese word for "lumberjack" is pronounced "Kikori." This, combined with their proximity to the Lost Woods and the overall appearance of the Lumberjacks highly resembling the Kokiri, supports this possibility. It might also be possible that their name is driven from "Ko" meaning child or children in Japanese, and "Kiri" a flowering tree species native to Asia.
It has also been noted that Shigeru Miyamoto is a fan of Walt Disney. It's possible he based the Kokiri off of the children that reside in Neverland in the story "Peter Pan." Given the fact that the children in Neverland do not die or grow up, nor do the Kokiri children. This could also explain why Link has a similar appearance to that of Peter Pan, dressed in green. Kokiri are also highly likely to be inspired by Japanese mythology's kodama, spirits who reside in trees:
"They are rarely seen, but can be heard as an echo that takes longer to return. When they are seen, they usually take the form of a faint orb of light, though they sometimes appear as as a tiny humanoid creature. They occasionally speak, and can especially be heard when a person dies."
This is further proven by the fact they disappear from a distance if Link walks away from them and take on the form of the more plant-shaped Koroks in the adult timeline, are the children of a giant tree deity, and how rarely seen they are by people. Kodama responding to the death of humans can be applied to humans becoming "lost" in the Lost Woods as well. They could also have some inspiration from Huorns, which are forest guardians, from Lord of the Rings.
Kokiri are Deceased Hylian Children Revived by The Great Deku Tree
The Kokiri and Skull Kid (race) are opposites, as one are children from the Lost Woods and the Kokiri are children from the Kokiri Forest protected by the Deku Tree. It could be possible that Kokiri are Hylian children who got lost in the woods near the Great Deku Tree while the Skull Kids are Hylian children who got lost and/or died in the Lost Woods, as the Deku Tree is not around to revive their spirits leaving their spirits to be cursed, meaning Kokiri and Skull Kids are variations of each other. However Link is Hylian and does not become either even though he has lived in Hyrule's forests since being an infant, although this could be because of his upbringing, heroic destiny, having Navi around, or because he wears the Kokiri Tunic which may protect him from the Lost Wood's curse. The fairies the Great Deku Tree gives to Kokiri may protect them from The Lost Wood's curse.
Kokiri are Hylian Children Who Didn't Get Lost In the Woods and Stayed with the Deku Tree
Another idea is that Kokiri are children who wandered away from their parents and are trapped to be in the Deku Tree's woods forever and were led astray by fairies. Fairies in folklore are known to be tricksters and possibly kidnapped the Hylian children and instilled fear in them so they would think leaving the forest would kill them even though it is a lie. This is somewhat similar to the Lost Boys in Peter Pan where Peter tricks children into staying in Neverland forever and over time the magic of the forest and Deku Tree kept them from aging. A guide for Ocarina of Time also states they are Hylian children who live in the woods with the Great Deku Tree, but the reliability of this information is questionable since it is not a canon source.
In Faron Woods in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, monkeys aid Link inside the Forest Temple, which is implied to be their natural habitat. A Female Monkey guides Link on his journey to the Sacred Grove (much like Saria in Ocarina of Time). Also, the Kokiri symbol appears to be tattooed on the monkeys' shoulders. These observations suggest the monkeys are actually transformed Kokiri, who, either by evolution or some other form of change, needed to better adapt to their environment; however, the absence of the Kokiri in Twilight Princess could also be because they moved deeper into the forest after the Humans founded Ordon Village, which bears a strong resemblance to the original Kokiri Forest village. Alternatively they evolved into Koroks whom the Hero of Twilight or Wolf Link is unable to perceive as in Breath of the Wild it is suggested only certain Hylians can see them as Hestu and the first hidden Korok Link encounters are surprised he can see them. Presumably this ability is uncommon even among incarnations of Link with only the Hero of Winds and Link in Breath of the Wild confirmed to be able to perceive them. Its also possible the Korok or Kokiri simply became more secluded and cut off from Hyrule during the period Twilight Princess takes place.
Aging and Dying by Leaving the Forest
The Kokiri believe that if they leave the forest they will die. However, as it is shown during the end credits that they can in fact leave without dying, it is possible that they misunderstood and instead of dying immediately upon leaving, they would instead start aging and eventually die of old age. This is further supported by the fact that Link's appearance (and by extension the Kokiri's) is based on Peter Pan, who along with the other children, do not age unless they leave Neverland. This could also explain why no Kokiri are seen or even mentioned in Twilight Princess, as they could have grown up and started living among the Hylians. However, it is also entirely possible that this mistaken belief was due to the fact that they were under the Great Deku Tree's protection, and if they left the forest they would be vulnerable to danger from monsters.
It is also possible that since they are a magical race tied to the enchanted forest areas and the Great Deku Tree, that they would perish simply by being away from their life source leading to their death. However this is not probably true because they are shown at Lon Lon Ranch during the ending credits. The guardian fairies Kokiri have may prevent them from aging. However given Hylians show little surprise seeing Kokiri or those they perceive to be Kokiri outside of the forest then it indicates that Kokiri may actually be able to leave but are forbidden to do so in Ocarina of Time (save for Link who was always destined to leave the forest) as it occurs not long after the Hyrulean Civil War and Ganondorf's growing evil influence had made Hyrule more dangerous. There is also no indication Kokiri can in fact age as it is implied they are forest spirits that evolved to take on humanoid form before evolving further into the Koroks, thus their lack of aging presumably is attributed to their nature. However they are capable of dying as shown by Fado becoming a ghost in The Wind Waker after being killed.
As the Seven Sages represent each race from Hyrule, it is possible that Gulley, one of the Seven Sages from The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, represents the Kokiri, as he is a young boy with green clothes that gets along well with animals.
The names of most Kokiri are portmanteaus of syllables from the Solfège musical scale, "do re mi fa so la ti do." For example, Mido is made up of "mi" and "do," and "Fado" is made up of "fa" and "do."