Day IV – Niigata Treasure

Today we were in for another jam packed busy day. Planned today we had Isa Koi Farm to visit first, re-visit Otsuka to have a look at koi seen yesterday, pop to Kansuke to see a Kohaku we have there, Oyaji for Gin Matsuba, Marusei, Marusaka, Hiroi Conias and any where else we could fit in!

9am appointment made with Mitsunori Isa to select high quality Showa and Tancho Showa. It’s always a pleasure visiting Isa, always feeling welcomed we started off in the office having a coffee with Mitsunori Isa and having a general chat.

Making our way down to the koi house. He gave us the option to select from two of the Tosai ponds. As we eyed them up, it was clear which pond we would choose from. A huge selection with around 1400 koi in it. The other pond had possibly a 1/4 of the koi of which were lower quality. Quite a sight seeing so many quality koi like this swimming in a pond. Video below shows the pond we selected from.

Isa and his staff proceeded to seine net the pond. With over 1400 koi in this large pond, this is the ONLY way to really see each individual koi. Once the fish were netted, koi were then placed in a bowl for us to select from. Around 6 or 7 koi at a time, we placed “keepers” into a floating net into the pond, the rejects went back to the pond. It always pays off to select a lot more than needed on the first round of picking as once they’re back in the pond, you can’t then net them up again. 1400 koi is a lot to go through and takes a bit of time. A bit of a monotonous task for the staff having to sock around 200 scoops, only for us to throw a good number back!

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In our first selection we had picked around 210 Showa and 40 Tancho Showa. Having a little drinks break. Numerous bowls were set up for us to make further selections. Now in a larger bowl we could get a much better look at the koi, how they swam, their finnnage, head shapes and checking them for any damage. Whittling it down to just 45 Showa and 15 Tancho Showa we assessed the koi one last time.

Deal done!

A fantastic selection of Showa and Tancho Showa, roughly between 28-32cm.

Leaving Isa we grabbed a bite to eat for lunch, certainly needed it after a gruelling, very wet first few hours of picking koi.

After lunch we had a quick look in at Marusei Koi Farm. As most of you know Marusei is a HUGE operation, undoubtedly one of the largest breeders with the biggest range of varieties and qualities. Unfortunately they were a little pre-occupied with packing koi for a shipment, so we arranged an appointment to go back there later in the week.

Onto Hiroi Conias for a quick look at the Tosai and Nisai available, as well as our Gin Rin Sanke which has been at the farm for the last 18 months now. This is a photo from Autumn, but from seeing it in the pond the sumi is well on it’s way! She is looking in fantastic condition. Such an exciting koi with quite literally a bright future. There is more sumi in places in which we couldn’t see any sign of in Autumn. All in the right places too. Keep your eyes peeled once it’s shipped back to the UK in a couple of months. Big thank you to the Hiroi brothers for looking after her so well.

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Viewing the Tosai ponds, we purchased around 80 Tosai between 12-18cm. A mixture of varieties including, Doitsu Showa, Doitsu Ochiba, Doitsu Sanke, Gin Rin Kohaku, Gin Rin Sanke, Gin Rin Showa, Gin Rin Goshiki and a few others. No video I’m afraid as the water colour/clarity was very poor. Videos and photos on their return to the UK.

A lovely little selection of smaller koi, we were then on the hunt for a similar size mix of metallic varieties. If you want metallic koi, then Marusaka is one of the best places to visit. Really pleased with his quality this year we selected around 60 koi, including Gin Rin Chagoi, Kin Ki Utsuri, Kujaki, Ogons, Kikisui’s, Kikokuryu, Kin Kikokuryu and plenty of other varieties. Similar to Hiroi, the Tosai ponds had terrible water clarity so videos and photos were not possible. Again around the 12-18cm mark.

Marusaka’s bulldozer comes in handy this time of year!

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Carrying on the metallic theme we went to see Tsuyoshi Hoshino of Oyaji Koi Farm. In Autumn we selected a handful of Kohaku and Tancho Kohaku from here. This time on the list was some of his Gin Matsuba. If you want Gin Matsuba, the best of the best come from Oyaji.

We selected through a pond and made up a bowl of 6 fantastic examples. Unfortunately the water is extremely cold now, so sexing the koi was nigh on impossible. Oyaji expects there to be a mixture of Male and Female. Really pleased with these. The metallic lustre on them is blinding. Reticulation is of course very under developed as they’re Nisai they still have plenty of development to come. Super clean heads which is always important in this type of koi.

Right round the corner from Oyaji Koi Farm is Kansuke. 99.9% of Kansuke is Kohaku. Quite a unique farm, a Kohaku only pond is rare in Japan. Visiting Kansuke you can be sure to see numerous ponds with only Kohaku in it. Specialising in pretty much one variety means he produces extremely good koi! Even the fish house itself and water condition is kept in immaculate condition. Here we have one koi that we purchased 18 months ago. Funnily enough a Kohaku. Pictured here in Autumn, we didn’t feel necessary to bowl her again now. Her condition is looking lovely. Around the 56cm mark now.

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After Kansuke we took a drive to Otsuka. A farm that brings a lot of surprises….

More to follow in Day IV Part 2.

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