It’s safe to say that the land of Hyrule is incredibly rich in its history. This includes an extensive range of species and races, all of which reside within its vast environments. However, to a new player, this history can be incredibly overwhelming. Therefore, it’s essential to learn what you can from the beginning, especially if it involves the history of our favorite protagonist, Link.
The history of Link is significant to the Zelda franchise. He is a very complex character who has been molded by hundreds of characters and generations and races. His most important influence may be the tribe that took him in and kept him safe when he needed it most. Consequently, they’re the tribe and race most people assume he’s a part of.
Despite not being involved in every Zelda game, the Kokiri tribe set the basis of knowledge on Link’s upbringing in Ocarina of Time. Since then, they have been a vital part of the foundation that makes Link who he is. We owe them a lot for that! So let’s dive a little deeper into their significance in this Kokiri guide.
Key Details Up Front
The Kokiri are a race of forest dwellers in the Zelda franchise. In Ocarina of Time, Link begins his journey living among the tribe. Although they are only present in two Zelda games, they are referenced throughout the franchise.
An Introduction to the Kokiri
In the history of Legend of Zelda, there is a colossal variety of races and species to note. While we are most familiar with the Hylians, Link’s race, there is more to his history than just that. Link, despite his race, was raised by the Great Deku Tree as a Kokiri, which may explain a few of his notable features.
The Kokiri were originally Hylians, but when Hylians began to industrialize and inhabit the land, the Kokiri wanted to remain close to nature. They fled to the forest, which is where they became a horticulturally led race. They are referred to by several terms, including children of the forest and the Kokiri tribe. Additionally, they are dependent on the forest’s goods to survive and will do all they can to protect it.
Due to their isolated lifestyle and inability to leave the woods, the Kokiri Tribe has little to no contact with the rest of Hyrule. However, they are known by other people as “forest fairies,” “fairy children,” and “fairy folk.” These names reference the Kokiri receiving a fairy from the Great Deku tree, marking their passage into becoming a “true Kokiri.” The tribe doesn’t shy away from using their fairies’ abilities to enhance day-to-day life. I mean, would you?
In the Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time, Link is also given a fairy — which is where we meet Navi for the first time. Unlike his peers, this ceremonious gift from the Great Deku Tree didn’t mark Link becoming a true Kokiri. Instead, Navi was given exclusively to aid Link’s adventure since he is not a Kokiri. However, his fellow forest inhabitants were not shy about criticizing this gift since Link isn’t one of them. They only took him under their wings until he was treated as their equal.
The Prominent Faces of the Kokiri Tribe
A few members of the Kokiri race aid link on his journey. Saria, Mido, Fado, and the Know-It-All brothers all play an essential part in both games they have featured in, Ocarina of Time and The Wind Waker. They may be quick to judge at the beginning of his journey but will come together to defeat the immense evil when necessary.
Each Kokiri has its position in the tribe, yet Mido declares himself the boss. He’s often the voice ordering the tribe members to do things, and he guards the entrance to the Great Deku Tree’s meadow. Unless the tree summons others, Mido is a tough cookie to pass. He’s the first to convict Link of killing the Great Deku Tree and convinces other Kokiri to believe him.
However, Saria is the first to jump to Link’s defense. She is Link’s closest Kokiri friend, which annoys Mido. Additionally, when Saria finds out Link has been given Navi, she is the only member of the tribe to refer to him as a true Kokiri. When the forest is filled with monsters, Saria is the only one to leave for the Forest Temple in an attempt to rescue others.
Fado is in the same boat as Saria. He is an excellent friend to Link and is also responsible for some tutorials at the beginning of Ocarina of Time. Still, as soon as Mido tells others that Link is responsible for the tree’s death, Fado becomes enraged and takes it out on Link. Even though it isn’t Link’s fault, the Kokiri tribe finds him suspicious as soon as word is spread. When Link returns to the forest as an adult, Fado doesn’t necessarily apologize, but he warns Link that those who get lost in the Lost Woods become Stalfos.
The final memorable characters in the Kokiri Tribe are the Know-It-All brothers. While Fado instructs Link on how to look around the forest, these brothers are responsible for the rest of Link’s tutorial in the Forest Training Center at the beginning of Ocarina of Time. They instruct Link (and us) on the game’s mechanics without being patronizing. Even though they pride themselves on being the most intelligent Kokiri, they are kind. They even prepare Link for the lecture on mechanics before it happens.
The Know-It-All brothers are also quick to teach Link about items as he finds and, for inexperienced players, will be more than happy to refresh your memory when needed. When I first played Ocarina of Time, I utilized this to its maximum capacity. I struggle with memorizing controls now, let alone an entirely new set at a young age. Plus, since they aren’t patronizing your lack of knowledge, it makes them much more approachable!
The Kokiri’s Appearance
The Kokiri are an intriguing, ageless race that appears in The Legend of Zelda franchise. They are known for their resemblance to Link since they have a similar design to Hylians. However, despite similar characteristics, the Kokiri is known to possess magical qualities which the Hylian race lacks.
I love all things vaguely elven, so the Kokiri and their woodland wandering are of enormous interest. Unfortunately, they haven’t featured in many Zelda games, but they are highly praised when they do.
Like Hylian’s, the Kokiri have long pointed ears and usually blonde or red hair. In addition, they wear green robes, called “Kokiri Tunics,” which are very similar to Link’s heroic attire. This armor also helps them hide when needed within the forest. Since the Great Deku tree is said to have given life to the Kokiri, they expect to spend most of their time in the woods alongside and protecting it. Additionally, the Kokiri are said to die if they leave the forest. The Great Deku tree grants them their ageless nature, and its magic doesn’t span past the forest’s edge. So if I were a Kokiri, I’d take refuge too!
Kokiri tends to reside in the hollowed-out trunks of trees, which they use as cover when threatened. Peculiarly, the tops of Kokiri’s trees tend to be cone-shaped. It’s never explained why this is, but I assume it’s to give more of a homey feel to their buildings. It may also be a form of defense should they receive sky-based threats. There sure is a mass of threats for such a peaceful land!
A few notable Kokiri appear in both Ocarina of Time and The Wind Waker, all of whom have a close relationship with Link. Link was raised as a Kokiri despite his Hylian heritage and resided in one of the treehouses in Kokiri Village. However, since Link is not a true Kokiri, he can leave the forest to protect Hyrule.
The Kokiri in Ocarina of Time
As I’ve already mentioned, the Kokiri tribe only appears in two main Zelda games. The first is Ocarina of Time. The tribe is the main focus for the majority of the opening of the game since Link is a member of the Kokiri tribe and awakens by receiving Navi as a gift in the opening monologue.
The entire tribe lives peacefully in the Kokiri Forest since the Great Deku Tree is there to protect them. They’ve spent their entirety harvesting and cultivating the fruits of the forest. In return, they simply watch over the tree as a sign of their gratitude. Although Link is not a Kokiri but a Hylian, he was still taken in by the tribe. As soon as the tree understands it’s his time, he bestows Link with Navi, a fairy companion, and requests that he is the one to save Hyrule.
The Kokiri cannot leave the forest, so Link is tasked with such a challenge. However, the Kokiri are displeased that he was selected over anyone else. They begin to believe that Link is why the Great Deku Tree has died. With the tree’s passing comes a plague of monsters, so while the Kokiri would usually take to their defenses, they retreat into their homes.
Before the rumor of Link killing the tree, most members of the Kokiri tribe are keen to interact with Link. Especially once they see that he is gifted a fairy. The Deku Tree is the only reason Link finds out about his Hylian heritage — leaving the Kokiri none the wiser.
The Kokiri in the Wind Waker
Wind Waker takes place in a different timeline to Ocarina of Time, where the Legend of Zelda franchise becomes incredibly confusing.
Set hundreds of years after Ocarina of Time is completed, Fado is declared the Sage of Wind. In addition, he is also the final Kokiri remaining across Hyrule. He works alongside the King of Hyrule to use the Wind Waker and the power of the Master Sword to repel evil.
This game is animated in Zelda games’ ‘Toon’ style, so Fado looks incredibly similar to Link. This only encourages the assumption that Link is, in fact, a Kokiri. The opening monologue additionally states that a ‘boy clothed in green’ is what saved the world from calamity hundreds of years ago — a reference to the Kokiri Tunic Link worn at the beginning of Ocarina of Time.
Before Wind Waker takes place and after the Great Deku Tree sprout is seen, the Kokiri tribe realizes they can take the form of Koroks. These resemble small wooden creatures descendent from the Great Deku Tree. Taking this form allows them to travel outside of the Kokiri Forest and overseas, a freedom that the tribe has never experienced before.
Fado is a character of great power in the Wind Waker, but when Ganondorf escapes his imprisonment, Fado is the first target of his wrath. Nevertheless, Fado’s spirit remains in the Wind Temple until he summons the power to awaken Makar — one of the most popular and recognizable Koroks.
During Link’s final performance to rescue the world once again from Ganon, Makar suddenly transforms back into the form of Fado. I found this scene more emotional than I probably should have. It brings a tear to your eye, though, trust me.
Other Mentions of the Kokiri Tribe
With the Kokiri tribe only featured in two mainline games yet being an integral part of Legend of Zelda lore, you’d expect them to be mentioned a few more times. Instead, however, they only have either a cameo or a brief mention in several other Zelda titles.
Breath of the Wild
The most obvious cameo is in The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild. One of your principal and most treacherous side quests is the grand hunt for Koroks. There are 900 scattered across the entire map, and they are hidden in every place imaginable. Under rocks or shot from the sky, Koroks are here, there, and everywhere. I adore these irritating little seedlings. I’ve been taking part in this hunt for almost three years now, and I am still nowhere near finishing. Nevertheless, something is satisfying about finding a bulk of Korok’s. It becomes gratifying when you understand that you’re reconnecting Link with an element of his past.
The tribe is also paid homage to in Tri-Force Heroes, despite not being directly referenced. The player can unlock Kokiri Clothes, a set of Green Robes with a pointed hat — which male Kokiri would typically wear. This outfit, when equipped, also allows Link to shoot three arrows while using a bow instead of just one. This is a huge benefit once you’ve been completely swamped!
Aside from these mentions, the Kokiri tribe has similar passing comments in-game, like when Navi departs in Ocarina of Time. As I keep mentioning, they are essential to the history of Hyrule. So I would love to see more attention drawn to them in the future of Legend of Zelda. However, I think new players wouldn’t quite understand their position in history.
Question: Is Link a Kokiri?
Answer: No. The Kokiri tribe raised Link. However, he was informed by the Great Deku Tree upon his departure that he was a Hylian. His mother left him under the protection of the Great Deku Tree before the Hyrulean Civil War.
Question: What is Tingle?
Answer: Tingle is an incredibly obscure character within the Legend of Zelda franchise who never really gets his history explained. He expresses himself as a Kokiri but hasn’t and never will be granted a fairy by the Great Deku Tree. He’s essentially a character obsessed with fairies rather than being one with them.
Question: Where do the Kokiri Live?
Answer: The Kokiri previously resided in Kokiri Forest, but after the passing of the Great Deku Tree and the planting of the sprout, the Kokiri took the form of Koroks and scattered themselves across the whole of Hyrule. Quite literally. There are hundreds of Koroks; you just have to know where to look.
The Kokiri Tribe provides a generous insight into Link’s past and upbringing. Without them, he wouldn’t be the hero we have known to love. For a tribe so isolated from modern life, they sure know how to bring someone in as one of their own. I hope in the future of the Legend of Zelda, their mark left on Hyrule is given more of a spotlight. After all, they’ve dealt with, they deserve it.