- "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?) are a recurring race from the Legend of Zelda series. They are a cautious, child-like and secretive race native to Kokiri Forest. The Kokiri believe that they will die if they leave Kokiri Forest, and therefore, they never leave the safe haven and know nothing about the outside world; however, during the ending of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, it is revealed that the Kokiri can indeed travel beyond the forest limits. Some characters in other parts of Hyrule identify Link as a "fairy boy" from the forest, indicating that the outside world is aware of Kokiri even though they remain in the forest. In The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, the Kokiri are revealed to have evolved into Koroks, a race of friendly, diminutive tree-beings.
The guardian 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. Each Kokiri has a guardian fairy that functions as a friend, parent and teacher. 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 the Great Deku Tree. Link is an orphan who was 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 of Link to venture inside of him to destroy the source of the curse therein. 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 condescendingly 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 a 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, evolved into Koroks: a race of tree-loving, peaceful plant-like 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 to ensure continued growth of trees. 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.
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 the look that of Peter Pan, dressed in green.
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. Some think that the Kokiri changed into the monkeys because the unintentional alliance with the Hylians ended when Link was sent back in time by Princess Zelda at the end of Ocarina of Time.
It could also be said that the Kokiri aren't actually humanoids at all and are actually magically transformed plants. This is supported by the fact that the Deku Tree created them, which could mean that they are born from his seeds. The Koroks are very tree-like in appearance, and could very well be the Kokiri's true form.
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.
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."