Day III – Niigata awaits

Looking back at the last two days it has been a bit of a whirlwind. We managed to cram in a good handful of breeders, managed to catch up with all our azukari koi, and select new koi. Our Azukari success rate so far has been extremely good!

Up very early we started our journey to Niigata. We toyed with the idea of flying to Niigata, but on looking at it more, we decided to take the train. If anything they take around the same time anyway and the trains are a lot less hassle. Up at 5am, we caught the 6am Nozomi Bullet train, 3 and a half hours later we arrived in Tokyo. At Tokyo we grabbed a bit of food, then caught our next train taking us to Nagaoka, Niigata.

Given the location of breeders in Niigata, the history, and the huge variety that is on offer. There is always a buzz in the air when visiting. Especially having appointments already lined up at Marudo, Isa, Hoshikin and Dainichi. We’re in for a treat over the next few days. Other farms we aim to visit are Ikarashi (Kazuto), Murata, Maruhiro, Shinoda, Hirasawa, Katsumi, Marushin, Oofuchi, Hosakai, NND, Kaneko, Kobayashi, Takahashi, Otsuka, Choguro, Yamamatsu, Yamazaki, plus many many more!

Back in Autumn we were lucky enough to catch Marushin just as he harvested his best Nisai mud pond. Out of the pond was a particularly nice Gin Rin Showa. We straight away bowled it and proceeded to purchase it. He felt it could do with another few more weeks in the mud pond, so he took the koi along with a few others and placed them back in the mud pond. The transformation in just those few weeks was great, he kindly sent us an update video of the koi. A load more sumi had developed on it and the skin had really cleared up.

Our first stop in Niigata was Marushin to see how the Gin Rin Showa had come on since we purchased her. Safe to say she’s looking incredibly good. The Gin Rin scales is of the highest quality. Exceptional example. She’ll be staying in Japan for another year.

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Moving on from Marushin we popped into Otsuka Koi Farm, here we have a few koi that we bought back in Autumn. A beautiful Shiro Utsuri, Asagi and a monster Chagoi. On this visit to the farm we were on the hunt for a good sized Aka Matsuba. In the same pond as our Chagoi we bowled numerous Matsuba’s. On first look in the pond they all looked perfect, had excellent colour and good reticulation . All were between the 60cm-70cm mark. So most likely Sansai or Yonsai. On closer inspection, there was one clear winner. Funnily enough Otsuka exclaimed this was his number one Sansai. Female and 68cm she is scale perfect, with an excellent frame, plus the sought after deep red colouration.

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We had our eyes on a number of other koi at Otsuka but being tight on time we had to dash to make our appointment at Maruhiro Koi Farm. We arranged a time with Otsuka to come back tomorrow… more to follow from Otsuka in the next blog post.

Maruhiro Koi Farm was now on the agenda. Maruhiro Koi Farm is always a great place to visit, with so many varieties and price points this place is heaving with customers in Autumn and Spring. I’m sure many of you will recognise this pond. The circle pond at Maruhiro has some of the biggest and best koi of many unusual varieties in Niigata.

Having a good look in all of the ponds at this fish house, a number of Hi Utsuri’s caught our eye. Autumn last year we had dozens of requests for high quality female Hi Utsuri’s. We searched high and low for them, Shinoda, Hirasawa, Yamazaki to name a few. We even visited here, Maruhiro. But we couldn’t find any! It’s known that the breeders move fish all of the time, from their secret fish houses to sales ponds and vice versa. Some even leave koi in the mud ponds over the winter months to elude the busy autumn harvest buying season. We were in luck, somehow these Hi Utsuri had appeared, and on first look they ticked the box perfectly!

First into the bowl we picked Gin Rin Hi Utsuri, selecting through them we finalised 4 belters. All female, all with great bodies and killer patterns. These are Nisai and around the 45cm-50cm mark. Very high quality pieces, in fact, I can’t remember seeing Gin Rin Hi Utsuri this good anywhere. I know a few of you have been after female Gin Rin Benigoi’s… Well 2 of his best made their way into the bowl too! These are both exceptional examples of the variety, with seriously good depth of colour, perfect bodies and great gin rin. Off to a good start, 6 lovely female koi selected.

In the next pond along, one or two normal scaled Hi Utsuri’s caught our eye. Grabbing the net, we pretty much bowled every one in the pond that looked good. It’s always fun netting koi from very highly stocked ponds. It’s easy to miss the best ones, so you have to be patient. Around 15 made it into the bowl, on closer inspection we put back the ones that didn’t quite make the cut. Sifting through them we took a step back and looked at what we had selected. We knew these weren’t going to be cheap by any means, but serious must haves and of extreme quality. These Nisai were very big around 55-60cm and all Female. Colouration of these is so vivid, sumi quality excellent and very good bodies. So so pleased with these, it’s been driving us crazy trying to find good ones the last 2 trips we’ve been to Japan !!

We were really on a roll now, we started to look at larger Hi Utsuri, first off to learn more about Maruhiro Hi Utsuri and how they develop and to get a good indication of potential growth and body conformations. The larger specimens didn’t disappoint whatsoever. Sumi patterns that stay crisp and not “speckled”. Bodies that were full, yet in proportion. Vivid colour and overall very good Hi Utsuri. Just as a member of staff was placing the Nisai Hi Utsuri into the sold pond, Maruhiro-san netted up a Yonsai Hi Utsuri so we could have a closer look. As if by magic, the koi was in the bowl. WOW!! A beast.

We certainly didn’t think we’d consider buying a Yonsai 75cm ish Hi Utsuri from Maruhiro. Last month If you said that we would buy two then I certainly wouldn’t have believed you !…

Ok, cut a long story short. 4 Yonsai Hi Utsuri all around the 75cm mark ended up in the bowl. On closer inspection we placed back 2 of them promptly. Back to 2 in the bowl, these were exceptional Hi Utsuri. Everything about them was just right. A lot of laughing and joking later, a price was settled.

Hi Utsuri ?                     Sorted.

With plenty of Orange and Black bought. We enquired about a his Chagoi & Gin Rin Chagoi.  Netting around 30 koi we placed them in bowls and spent time making our selections. A rather nice Aka Matsuba made it’s way into the bowl too. 16 koi selected and purchased.

Great shopping spree at Maruhiro Koi Farm !

Off to a late lunch, we made arrangements to visit Katsumi Koi Farm. A half hour or so drive away this would be our final stop of the day. Katsumi do a range of varieties, given our day so far, there was one more variety on our minds. With our Shiro Utsuri’s selected the day before at Omosako, Hi Utsuri’s today at Maruhiro, we had to secure some Ki Utsuri’s to make it a full house!

No problem. Katsumi had us covered.

5 lovely quality Ki Utsuri selected, and duly purchased. Great colour, great bodies, and great patterns.

What a win for Team Queni. An exciting, fulfilling yet exhausting day filled with great koi.

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