Day VIII – Secrets of Niigata

This trip we have selected a huge range of variety. Also managing to secure hundreds of smaller koi. We’re really trying our best to cater for everyone in the hobby.
One variety that is always a struggle to find of real quality is Sanke. Showa and Kohaku are in abundance all over Japan but good Sanke are few and far between. Marudo Koi Farm is always at the top of our list to visit, especially for their Sanke. We knew February would have been slightly early for Marudo to have made his selections for his Jumbo Tosai so we didn’t get our hopes up for purchasing some on this trip. Usually we visit late March to Mid April. By the end of April Marudo would have made his final selections. Hopefully we’ll be sent some photos and videos of koi for us to consider.

With Marudo not on the cards for this trip we went on a mission. The Sanke hunt.

Making a few phone calls we visited a handful of farms. Oya, NND, Sakai Yamamatsu, Izumiya and a few others. Even trying Ikarashi which we had visited yesterday, he had not been able to sex any of his Tosai yet due to the size of them so that was a no go. None of the farms could come up trumps today. Many people think that finding and sourcing high quality koi is an easy task. Far from it. It may be easy to find stunning koi, but finding stunning koi for affordable prices at the right time is another matter.
Running out of ideas we visited a local hobbyist that one member of our party was good friends with. We spoke with him over a coffee. It seemed that this guy knew Niigata like the back of his hand. Close friends with many of the breeders in the mountains, it eventually came to light that he knew of a breeder that specialises in Sanke. He would take us there by car, being unknown to the foreign market the breeder asked for his name to remain anonymous. Driving to his koi house we gazed into ponds full of Sanke. We questioned him about how long he had been breeding, about his Oyagoi and many more questions.

Breeding for over 20 years, he has only ever bred Sanke. How did we not know about this guy ?! Using Sakai Fish Farm and Marudo bloodlines it was evident to see the huge Sakai bodies coupled with the striking Marudo Sumi and skin quality. Quite a combination !

We netted up two of his Tosai ponds. They were unusually large for Niigata koi for this time of year. Around 30-35cm. Considering we usually pick jumbo Tosai at Marudo in mid April at the same size. This breeder had managed that size 2 months prior. Only farms like Dainichi, Hoshikin and a handful of others in Niigata achieve these sizes as Tosai. Given the amount of water space this breeder had he was telling us that he only keeps Female koi, all of the male koi he gives to friends (unless used for parent koi). He makes a lot of selections in their first year of life and only keeps the very best koi with attractive patterns. This is to save space in his fish house so his female koi can continue to accelerate in growth. A number of years ago the breeder pushed the koi even more he managed to have Tosai up to 50cm, but explained that due to the high growth rate he felt that more of the koi on average developed body and internal issues. We have heard that from a few farms now including Sekiguchi.

Selecting through a few hundred koi we were blown away with the quality. The breeder sorted Koi into different bowls and told us the price for each Koi. The Tategoi we picked out you could tell he was a little reluctant to sell. We knew they wouldn’t be cheap, fairly understandable given his love and passion for the koi he breeds in small numbers.
Making our final selections and finally settling on a price we all shook hands and proceeded to take photos and videos. The koi house was very dark so getting videos was tricky.
These will be shipped April time and he expects them to be nearer 35-40cm. If any turn out male come April he will send photos of other females so we can swap the koi before shipment.

A stunning collection of Sanke.


We then viewed the Nisai and older ponds. Huge bodies on all ages of koi. He netted up some of his parent koi and showed us their offspring of which we had chosen. Two phenomenal male koi with unreal Beni highlighted by the matsunoske gin. Sumi quality was impressive. Then bowling up one of his future female parent koi you could straight away see the fukurin before it was even in the bowl. Stunned by the quality we sat down in the breeders office and discussed Koi further over a cup of coffee.

Leaving the secret breeder we popped in to see Chikara Nogami of Nogami Koi Farm and our koi there. Here we have 4 koi, 3 Sansai and 1 Yonsai. The Yonsai was going through treatment so it wasn’t best to bowl her. The Yonsai and one of the Sansai will be staying for one more year. The 2 other Sansai will be arriving home soon. We purchased these in Autumn 2015 as Nisai. Now all around 65cm they’re looking wonderful.

Next we made our way to Maruboshi Koi Farm, 99% of Maruboshi koi farm is Kohaku. He formally worked alongside with Murata, no wonder he has such a long for Kohaku. The brothers showed us different ponds of varying quality that were available to select from. Choosing a pond we sorted through a few hundred Kohaku. Lovely quality with Murata-esque bright red Beni.

 

Next door to Maruboshi we visited the Odakan Koi facility. Odakan is primarily a Japanese dealer so he buys a lot of koi in from the breeders then sells them to the public. The state of the art koi house is in immaculate condition. Huge long ponds with koi in excess of 90cm. Recognising many Show winning Koi it was great to see all of the koi at the facility in great condition. Odakan is famous for his purchases at auctions here in Japan along with show winning koi. If I remember rightly he has the auction record in which he sourced a koi for a Chinese customer for the sum of 42 million yen. I’ll let you do the maths !


Back to the hotel we quickly got changed and went to dinner with our new found secret breeder and friend. Eating at one of the best Chinese restaurants in Nagaoka. The head chef kindly prepared his special selection dishes in front of us. A few drinks then back to the hotel for an early night.

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Early tomorrow we head to the Koide region to tick off Takahashi Koi Farm, Tazawa, Wada and Kobayashi. We are aiming to get to Murata but he had to urgently leave the farm for a few days. So we may not be able to see him.
Goodnight !

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