This the last blog post of the trip covers the final three days of the trip.
Our earliest start yet we had some distance to travel. We set off to the Koide area to visit Sekiguchi Koi Farm and Tanaka Koi Farm. This is our first visit to the farm and we had high expectations . Having had Sekiguchi Showas via Narita in the past we knew there was quality fish to be had. Viewing all of the ponds here we found ourselves in the higher quality Nisai/Sansai koi house. With two long ponds parallel to each other it was great to see the varying Nisai body types compared to the Sansai bodies. Two distinct shapes with Sekiguchi Showa. The long lean shape that were seemingly larger. Then the fuller body type with more power yet were not as long at the same age.
Scouting out the Nisai pond, one Koi was bowled. It had everything going for it, a strong athletic shape, good beni, well placed and quality sumi. The pattern was rather attractive too ! Being pleased with the price quoted. We hunted for another. Managing to select out some of his “Super Tategoi” as Sekiguchi put it, we knew they were going to be pricey. They were released back into the pond promptly. Sekgiuchi-san kindly bowled us a selection of Koi to ponder over. On discussing what we like in a Showa with Sekiguchi we placed a few more in the bowl. Dismissing a handful of Koi relatively quicker we narrowed it down to three Koi. Talking about the pros and cons of each individual, Sekiguchi showed us elder siblings to help us understand how the different beni and body types develop in time.
Finalising the second Koi I took photos and videos of the koi. Both totally different which will help us to understand how each of these types develop in our UK waters. Not just the Sumi but the Beni too. Both female, 55 and 58cm. Great potential in these two.
Finishing up in the Nisai/Sansai house Sekiguchi made us aware of a pond of Nisai Males that may be of interest. Peering into the slightly murky pond, we bowled a dozen or so Koi. We could only really select them based on body and pattern. The skin quality was impossible to judge through the murky water. On bowling the koi, a few immediately went back. Confirming how many would fit in a box we chose our top 4. As mentioned these koi are male and are really nice quality Koi for the money. Expect to find these koi on the website shortly after our return leg of the journey back to the U.K. Ranging from 46 to 52cm.
Leaving Sekiguchi we drove through the torrential rain to Tanaka Koi Farm. Tanaka was now pretty much sold out of Koi but we will certainly return next season as he did have some lovely Kujaku, Ochiba and Hariwake. For now, there wasn’t anything of interest here so we took the journey back to the Niigata mountains. Popping into a handful of breeders like Shinoda, Kanno and a few others. Unfortunately there wasn’t anything of interest. Kanno was a worth while visit, but unfortunately prices were out of reach for the customer requests I was trying to fulfil.
Setting up camp at Maruhiro Koi Farm the rain was really hammering it down. The noise from the rain echoed around the fish house making it a task to even talk to each other. Maruhiro kindly invited us into his home to have a coffee and a catch up first before selecting Koi. Maruhiro was telling us about his Autumn and Winter schedule. With over 200 mud ponds, Maruhiro has to harvest at least two mud ponds a day! All the way from October through till the new year. Rain, Snow or Sun he has no choice but to harvest his ponds. As well as see to customers and carry out other maintenance. A hard working man! The history of the farm is a wonderful story. Within 10 years Maruhiro has gone from working at his fathers farm (Hirasawa/Marusei) to now setting up his own farm and trumping many of his Brothers and Fathers koi. One of his Koi even won a Grand Champion title last year with a Showa! He explained that when he first began breeding Koi many people mocked him and was asked why he would leave the biggest farm in Japan to only set up on his own and start from scratch. In the first year he knew his Koi were no good, the public knew this too and made him aware of it. This did not bother him. He knew where he’d be in years to come. The people that once mocked him now needed him for Koi!
Maruhiro breeds a vast range of varieties, he is also very successful at breeding these varieties too. The famous circular pond at the top of the Fish house contains some of the best Koi Niigata has to offer of dozens and dozens of varieties. Memorising each parent set he studies future Oyagoi extremely carefully before testing out new parent sets. When asked what variety he wants to succeed in the most, he replied “It doesn’t matter”. There wasn’t one variety he wanted to excel in the most. All varieties was his ambition.
On our last Spring trip we selected quite a number of Hi Utsuri and a few select other varieties. Our mission this time was to select some slightly larger Koi, in mind were Akame Kigoi, Benigoi and Ki Matsuba.
The rain had died down slightly so we took the opportunity to make our way into the fish house and view the Koi. Pointing out a few Koi to Maruhiro he netted and bowled them. He quickly understood which varieties we were after. He then proceeded to bowl more Koi as we inspected the ones already in the bowl. Two large Akame (Red eye) Kigoi, a Benigoi and Ki Matsuba. Sorted! Really beautiful examples of the varieties and we can’t wait to visit Maruhiro again in Spring to select some smaller Nisai Koi of varying quality and sizes. We’ll certainly be doing a lot of business here over the coming years.
Ranging from 55cm to just over 70cm a group bowl photo and video had to suffice as the Koi weren’t behaving for individual photos. Intense colour, great fukurin and big bodies. Perfect.
With the heavy rain and dark clouds, daylight hours didn’t allow us to make a full day of Koi hunting. We made our way back to the hotel.
Some slap up grub and one too many drinks it turned out to be a late night!
It may be a slightly later start tomorrow…
Waking up with sore heads the following morning we slowly prepared ourselves for the day. Zombified and fragile, we took a drive up to Hosokai. Due to the poor light a few days ago photos and videos for some koi we selected weren’t achievable. Today was the chance to get this done. The water in the ponds had cleared up nicely, and Hosokai had prepared photograph and measuring bowls for us before we had arrived. Moving the Koi into the bowls each Koi was photoed, videoed then measured. It was much better seeing these in daylight and clearer water.
A few very high quality unusual varieties and a high class Showa. The Sakura Ogon is one of the best I’ve seen!
Still feeling a little worse for wear we skipped around a handful of breeders on the way back to Nagaoka, visiting Odakan and Maruboshi we viewed some Koi at Odakan that we had purchased earlier in the year at one of his events. Similar to Narita Koi Farm, Odakan is essentially a dealer/wholesale in Japan. Buying a range of Koi from breeders in Japan then offering them to the public and dealers. We didn’t see all of the Koi that we had purchased as some were still in the mud ponds. More on these koi to follow once they’re back in the U.K.
Maruboshi was teeming with great looking Tosai. Not being available at this time of year we’ll certainly be back in Spring to see how they have progressed and hopefully select some.
Our Koi trip was now over for another season. Getting back to the hotel we collected our luggage then made the journey to Tokyo, here we spent the night. Tomorrow looks to be good weather so we plan on visiting some of the local sights before heading to the airport.
In the morning we navigated the underground subway lines and headed to our first tourist attraction. The Tokyo Sky Tree Tower. The weather was on our side and the views from the Tower were spectacular. The lift travelled at 600 meters per minute, our ears popping, we reached the viewing platform at a staggering 450 meters high. It just goes to show how big Tokyo really is, looking all around us Tokyo still reached the horizon, even from this view! On a perfectly clear day apparently you can see Mount Fuji, unfortunately for us it was a little hazy in the sky.
Jumping on the subway to Shinjuku we took a walk around the National Gardens, a beautiful extensive garden that people flocked to in the warm weather. Stunning scenery and very relaxing.
Making our way back to Tokyo station it was now time to head to the airport and say goodbye to Japan.
Keep an eye out over the next few days for all of the Koi selected, appearing on the website including information and prices. There will also be updated photos/videos of our Azukari Koi.
Many thanks to the thousands of you for reading the blog from all over the globe! Seeing the statistics of the blog, people in varying countries tuning in makes it all worth while! The U.K, USA, Brazil, Spain, Holland, Belgium, Australia, Maldives, Norway, Greece, Chile, Mauritius, Russia, China, India, Nepal, Fiji, South Africa and so many more.
Nishikigoi is taking over the world!