Today was really our first day visiting breeders all day and early evening. With plenty to do we set off early to the Koide region of Niigata, about an hours drive from where we are staying. We arrived at Kobayashi’s house around 9:30am, a catch up and coffee we wandered around his koi house viewing thousands of this years Tosai. His Nisai were kept in outdoor ponds. He is currently building a new koi house which will enable him to carry far more stock. Kobayashi had invited us to one of his Nisai harvests, mainly Showa and Sanke.
We hopped in the van and headed up the mountains. Kobayashi’s mud ponds are really quite high up, and access is purely by off-road tracks. Chris and Ricky found themselves perched on the back of the van, while I rode in the front passenger seat. The latter being the more comfortable..and driest place to sit ! Given the steep incline of the drive, the tank on the back was spilling over the edges and giving Chris and Ricky a bit of a soaking. Laughing and joking Kobayashi-san did his best to spill as much water as possible! Kobayashi-san drove best part of 15 minutes up the valley into the mountains. Soon we had hit a dead end, we were here.
On arriving, Kobayashi-san paddled out into a mud pond in his small, half inflated rubber dinghy. Kobayashi-san is a funny character, and he very nearly fell in a few times! In the middle of the mud pond was a drain hole, managing to secure a perforated standpipe in the drain. The mud pond started to empty. This mud pond would be the one he would harvest the following day.
Kobayashi-san reversed back down the steep narrow track tentatively for a minute to the mud pond we had come to help harvest ourselves. Myself and Kobayashi-san donned the waders and pulled the net around the pond making sure no koi darted around our feet. Out the mud pond there were around 80 koi, all roughly 45-50cm. Having made note of the number of koi that came out the pond, we were a few short. On looking from the banks of the pond we could see a small shoal of koi, who knows how they escaped the net. We pulled the net around one more time, this time we caught them all.
All koi safely loaded into the tank, we made our way back down to the koi house. Here we graded and sexed them. A very even split of male to female koi, pretty good considering they all went in the pond as Unsexed Tosai around 20-22cm.
Now the harvest had been completed, we made our way to lunch. Talking over lunch with Kobayashi-san it was fascinating to learn he has had his farm for 6 years. Prior to this he trained with Koshiji (Kase) for a number of years. To think he’s been breeding himself for 6 short years. The koi he produces are fantastic.
Here are a selection of koi we purchased from Kobayashi. One Sanke and five Shiro Utsuris, a mixture of male and female. These will be on the website in the next few days.
Thank you to http://www.koitalk.com for the photos of the harvest.
Part 2 to follow….