Body clocks starting to get in tune we made an early start to Momotaro Koi Farm. Visiting Momotaro is always a spectacle, the sheer size of not only the farm itself but the koi too. Navigating the farm we walked to see all of the various ponds including their brand new Koi house. Pictured below you may notice a lack of showers on the ponds. The plan with these ponds isn’t so much the growing of Koi, but more so conditioning. Not having the showers in the koi house there is a sense of tranquility. Top show Koi gliding through the clear calm waters is a refreshing sight as 99% of the time it’s hard to see Koi through the foam and turbulent murky water.
Making our way into the hot steamy main koi house we started viewing a handful of ponds with newly harvested Nisai we scouted out a dozen or so Koi. A mixture of Gin Rin Kohaku, Kohaku, Sanke and Showa. Daisuke and his staff started filing a number of bowls with water and started distributing the Koi into their various price points.
With no surprise a magnificent 4 step Gin Rin Kohaku was in the most expensive bowl. Video of it below. A serious Koi that we fell in love with. To our disappointment Daisuke was also besotted with it. More on the Gin Rin later…
Having sorted the koi into their various price points we looked at all of them a lot closer taking into consideration their merits and demerits. On closer look we swiftly placed a few of the koi back in the pond as we felt the price asked was unrealistic for the fish in front of us. The larger body Gin Rin Kohaku featured in the video was one of them. It’s relatively easy to select Koi out of the pond, but once in the bowl closer inspection is always needed.
Narrowing the selection down, negotiations started with Daisuke. It was clear he was not going to budge in price on one Koi in particular. Proposals were shot back n forth between us and Daisuke. Still he didn’t want to move on price for one of the koi.
Getting closer to making a deal. Daisuke kneeled down nearer to one of the bowls. Inspected a Koi and attempted to sex it. Milt! 100% Male. He couldn’t help but laugh. Head in his palms he sincerely apologised to us. Sod’s law it was the Gin Rin Kohaku that he didn’t want to move on price. We all knew it was one of the best koi in the bowl but now being Male Daisuke had to eat his words. Albeit Male it was still going to be extremely expensive. Ourselves and Daisuke had an understanding that the Gin Rin wasn’t going to be one of the purchases so he placed it back in the pond and said he would put it into a future auction. Maybe we’ll see it again but for now we had to say goodbye.
Down to the final 6 Koi, a very attractive deal was struck with Daisuke. Stonking Sanke, Showa and Gin Rin Tancho Kohaku. All female, ranging from 49-55cm with fantastic bodies. A happy Queni Koi camp we burst outside into the cool refreshing air.
Photos to follow over the next couple of days. For now a group video.
Moving on from Momotaro we drove for an hour to Sakai Fish Farm. Momotaro is huge, but Sakai is again on another level. Arriving into the valley, fish houses scattered everywhere you look. Rice fields and koi houses surrounded by lush rolling hills. The farm is never ending. Starting off in the new Koi house we were there just in time for a Sansai Sanke harvest coming in, with dozens of beautiful big bodied Koi, Kentaro and his staff measured each Koi while numerous dealers and hobbyists from Asia huddled closely trying to get a better look.
Liaising with one of Kentaro‘s head staff he explained the ponds for sale and their pricing. We spent some time scouting out the Nisai ponds for any potential purchases, locating and pointing the Koi out, prices were then quoted and we weren’t overjoyed to hear they were of course the most expensive ones in the pond. Typical! Looking for slightly cheaper alternatives the quality didn’t really represent what we know can be bought elsewhere for less money. Like I touched on earlier it’s one thing choosing a Koi, but it’s another thing choosing a Koi that represents really good value and at the end of the day sellable back in the U.K. At Sakai this is a tricky game. We left the for sale ponds and went on the hunt for our “Zig Zag” Kohaku. Ironically probably not that sellable in the U.K.! But that’s another story.
Locating a single fish among thousands and thousands isn’t the easiest of tasks. It didn’t take us long to realise we had no chance of finding it. Murky waters with turbulent air distorting the view of the Koi we asked the member of staff to assist us. Within a few minutes we found her. All 75cm of her.
Kindly netting her from the large long pond it was the first time we’ve seen her close up since we purchased her some 18 months ago. A huge frame, typical glossy Sakai skin. She was in lovely condition. Managing to get a photo and video we kept her in the bowl to admire a little longer. The bone structure of the Koi has always been astonishing but it was clear to see the body still has room for growth and girth.
Yonsai and 75cm.
Our Maruten Sanke now Sansai was next on our hit list. Sadly we were made aware that she hadn’t been harvested as of yet. Due to the recent Typhoon their harvest schedule had been disrupted. Unfortunately we wouldn’t see her on this occasion. We will receive updated photos and videos of her in the coming week. Fingers crossed she has made it to 65-70cm and still looking good. Here she is last Spring.
Making our way back to the for sale ponds we had a peek at the Sansai and Yonsai for sale. If you want a ready made large koi Show fish this is the place! Large Koi in abundance, prices varied greatly as did the quality but for the average Koi in the pond prices weren’t extortionate especially comparing them to the Nisai we had seen moments before. Realistically however, these aren’t the type of Koi we were looking to buy for the shop.
Quickly having another look at the Nisai nothing was really grabbing our attention. Of course at Sakai there is always good Koi for sale but possibly on this occasion timing wasn’t ideal. With their disrupted harvests maybe the Koi we were after were still in the mud ponds. Timing is everything especially for a popular farm such as Sakai, every truck load of Koi that are brought back to the Koi house you can guarantee a handful of buyers waiting for their arrival. Accepting there was nothing of interest here we jumped in the car and moved on.
Getting quite late in the day we had an hour and a half journey back to Okayama. With roughly an hour before the Sun started to set. Could we squeeze in another breeder before it got dark ? Of course we could.
A short drive from Sakai we arrived at Tamaura Koi Farm. Having followed numerous of Tamaura bred koi via Narita Koi Farm and the All Japan Koi Shows. Their Go Sanke in particular Kohaku and Sanke always have an element of class. Blinding skin quality, some of the best Shiroji to be seen in Japan and Koi with great patterns. This was our first visit to the farm, but it certainly won’t be the last.
Approaching dusk the modest Koi house was cool, quiet and on viewing the Koi it was clear we weren’t going to leave empty handed.
Looking at each pond there were quality Koi everywhere. Moving towards the back of the Koi house we saw Koji-san and his member of staff sorting Koi. Viewing the pond in which they were netting, every single koi in the pond were mind blowing. Quite unusual but there was a stunning Ki Kujaku in the pond. The variety is rare in itself to find one like this was unheard of. Asking about the pond Koji-san said he was sorry but all sold. Gutted! Maybe a brief moment of craziness but in all honesty it was awesome! It wasn’t to be, we walked back to the for sale ponds.
We jumped in at the deep end inspecting his larger specimen Koi pond. All of which were Sansai and older and by the looks of it some of his parent fish too. Having not dealt with Tamaura before we were anxious as to how he priced his Koi. Pointing out one Koi we expected big bucks. Potentially too big. Bowling a Kohaku it was real quality, an all round beautiful Koi. The skin quality was out of this world coupled with luxurious Beni quality. Bracing ourselves Koji-san quoted us for the Koi. Slightly confused and surprised. We had to ask again. Price confirmed we knew this Koi would be coming home with us. Taking a moment we considered what this type of Koi would have been valued at 2 minutes down the road at Sakai. Substantially more would be an understatement. Now having a better idea of his pricing strategy another Koi was selected. Much bigger body, a totally different beast. This was always going to be more expensive than the first Koi but again we were pleasantly surprised. With big grins on our faces we knew we had a good situation here. Opportunities like this have to be taken advantage of. So another Koi went in the bowl. Three Sansai roughly 60-65cm. Now knowing the individual price of the Koi, the negotiating game began. Giving us a better price for three together we were quite pleased. We asked Koji-san about his Oyagoi and their history, with no surprise they are from Sakai Fish Farm. We didn’t commit to the purchase just yet, we had a plan up our sleeve.
Having seen the Nisai ponds for sale there was clearly plenty of Koi to have a look at. Curiosity lead us to to enquire about various koi in each of the ponds. Prices were very reasonable to relatively expensive. The expensive pieces were more like Sansai prices which can often be the case. We selected a bowlful of Koi that we had previously been quoted for, selecting up to a certain value each koi varied in price but all were very very attractive in price.
Three Sansai and four Nisai to sweeten the deal, proposals and offers were laid down.
Coming down in price again on the Sansai and Nisai, smiles all round and we shook hands. The plan executed wonderfully. It was pitch black outside by the time we were done. We had literally ran out of time here. Too dark for photos and videos the farm will forward us their photos in a few weeks. A short clip of the Nisai purchased taken on the phone under artificial light. Plus a video of two of the Sansai. The third had to be placed back into the pond relatively swiftly as it was quite boisterous.
We were extremely impressed with Tamura’s Koi and appreciative of how he handled pricing. There were so many more fish we wanted to buy but just didn’t have the daylight to see and select them. We tried to arrange an appointment for the following day, unfortunately they were closed due to other family business. We will be back !
Leaving the farm we drove back to Okayama. Straight out to dinner with Kenny from FD Koi Food, no spoilers here but keep an eye out for exciting news soon.
Tomorrow we head to Omosako and Taniguchi. What diamonds will we find tomorrow ?