As jet lag starts to set in, the first nights sleep wasn’t too bad. No doubt the tiredness of jet lag will hit us hard later on today. We must stay awake in the car. Thankfully it isn’t easy having a short nap in the car as we drive through the winding roads in the hills of Niigata!
First up was Aoki, the creator of Beni Kikokuryu and other weird and wonderful varieties. In 2016 Aoki took the Grand Champion award at the International Junior Koi Show, and also Grand Champion B at the 2017 Show with his Beni Kikokuryu’s. Just before our trip we sourced a handful of special little Koi for the International Junior Show from Aoki. On our arrival the breeder had just bowled up our koi ready to bag them and take them to the show. Really pleased with our Koi he was very hopeful of one Koi in particular. Making a few arrangements to select through his Nisai in autumn we got out of his way so he could prepare for the show. He exclaimed that the show had over 1800 Koi entered this year and the competition is the highest it’s ever been.
Fingers crossed we get some results.
Here are the Koi we have at Aoki, some of which are already sold.
Moving swiftly on we popped into Ikarashi Toshinobu. Formerly Ikarashi Kazuto. Here we also have a selection of Koi show fish. Beautiful Gin Rin Showa and Beni Kumonryu, we will visit again tomorrow to select some pieces we had eyed up including Gin Rin Showa, Kohaku and anything else I can find! The few I saw looked superb for the UK koi show scene. Again, the breeder was a little pre-occupied with bagging Koi to take to the show so we left him in peace. Here are two of ours that are we hope to see on Sunday at the show.
Next stop, Dainichi. Here we have two Azukari Koi that we bought last Autumn at the auction.
Seeing them in the pond they were a lot bigger than we expected. Being on the food all winter they were looking really impressive, due to them being fed we weren’t able to bowl them. They both look a good 5cm larger, with bigger bodies now too. These are staying as Azukari for this summer. Shigeru thinks they’ll be over 65cm in Autumn as Sansai. Very happy! Really looking forward to seeing how they grow and develop. Two Koi photoed below are our Azukari Koi, photos taken in October last year.
We then took the opportunity to view the upcoming auction Koi. This auction is on Monday and we’ll be spending the day battling to buy the koi we want. Making a shortlist of Koi to aim for there are some serious prospects in here. Should you want us to place any bids on Koi please email me at mike@queni-Koi.co.uk for more information. The auction koi can be found in the link below.
After our success last year with Dainichi Tosai, Shigeru knew were after some more. Showing us a few ponds with Jumbo Tosai in we zoned in on one pond in particular. Selecting through the pond, many were placed into the keepers bowl, as well as some returning back to the pond. Finalising the Koi we wanted, Shigeru then made it very easy for us. One extremely good price, simple. Deal done. 9 Koi selcted with great Showa, Kohaku and Gin Rin Kohaku.
One smaller Gin Rin Kohaku measuring 26cm is sublime! This deserves to see a show vat in the UK.
These are unsexed with a 50:50 split of Male and female. Once in QT back at Queni HQ we’ll be able to sex them properly. All come with certificates from the breeder. Super pleased with these. Can’t wait to get them in the Tosai growing pond at the shop.
26 to 37cm and all very good quality.
For lunch we headed to a ramen bar very popular with the breeders and koi people in general. Away from the hot and sweaty koi houses, the cool air conditioned restaurant was needed. We made a plan of action for the rest of the day over lunch. Marusei, Isa, Odakan and Maruboshi was on the hit list. No doubt we’ll visit more anyway.
A few minutes drive to Marusei we viewed the famous warehouse ponds. It’s always a spectacle seeing these Koi as many will tell you. The range of varieties and quality in here is probably the widest in the whole of Japan. Koi for millions of yen in one pond, in the adjacent pond Koi for a few thousand yen.
So many Jumbo Koi of every variety under the sun, this place really does open your eyes to varieties that you may not think you like. Yet when you see them at such huge sizes and awesome quality, true Koi appreciation over rules personal favourite varieties.
Making our way into his new fish house the heat was unbearable. Eventually managing to switch the air off to the pond, there were many beautiful examples of Go Sanke, Hi Utsuri, Kujaku and a few other varieties.
Having an appointment at Odakan we made arrangements to go back to Marusei on Sunday. Here we want to net up some potential purchases. A little bit nervous as to the prices that’ll be quoted! A cracking Goromo, Kujaku and Sanke were looking rather nice.
Back on the main road, we stopped at Maruboshi and Odakan. Maruboshi is well known for his Kohaku, you’ll do well to find any other variety here. We had a very good success rate with his Koi at our shop last year. The ones we grew on to Nisai had done really well. Unfortunately, Maruboshi himself was again at the show. We may get a chance to come back next week as his Tosai were looking impressive, some up to 40cm.
Less than a stones throw away is Odakan. Odakan is primarily a Koi Dealer in Japan, similar to Narita Koi Farm. Selecting Koi from around Japan he has a seriously good reputation for the quality of koi he sources. One particular koi that you’ll see featured on numerous Koi calendars and posters is of course the Kohaku that won Grand Champion at the All Japan Koi Show. A few years previous it also won the All Japan Young Koi Show Grand Champion award. The first time this has ever happened! Raised from Nisai at Odakan it took the crown of the Koi world on two separate occasions. A magnificent feat.
Odakan had prepared a pond of Tosai for us to look at. The deal however was to have the whole pond so at first we weren’t too hopeful of making the purchase due to the sheer number of fish n the pond. On viewing them they looked good! Especially for the price. Bowling 30 or so Koi, these were too good to turn down. The Koi themselves are Tosai from Tamaura, based in Hiroshima. A farm we’re a big fan of and will be visiting next week once we leave Niigata. These Koi will be for sale on our stand at the BKKS National Koi Show at the end of June.
200 Tosai in total, around 20-30cm.
Odakan had to then leave for an appointment so we arranged to meet him back at his premises later on in the afternoon as we found plenty more koi we wanted to bowl. Seriously spoilt for choice.
Back to the hills of Niigata we popped in to Isa, Otsuka, NND and Marusei (again). Scouting out some Koi for a few days time. The koi houses of Niigata were deserted. All of the breeders now at the show making final preparations and taking their Koi there.
At Isa we viewed his Jumbo Tosai ponds. One of which had some very attractive koi in. Bad timing though! Isa’s head staff said that another dealer based in Asia had bought the whole pond. Not so good! Around 800 or so Koi to choose from, but not on this occasion. A bit of bad luck at Isa, we accepted defeat and moved on.
Otsuka was slim on the ground with quality Koi. Apart from huge Aka Matsuba, Chagoi and Asagi as usual. Plenty of smaller Tosai yet the quality and size weren’t what we were after. Massive Koi and tiny Tosai weren’t on the shopping list this trip. Maybe next time.
Killing a few hours in the hills, we made out way back to flats and met up with Odakan again.
Here I selected through a pond of bigger Tosai… breeders such as Sakai Fish Farm, Matsue, Maruyama, Omosako and Dainichi. In all honesty, I could have been there for hours on end picking Koi. One Koi after another, the quality was outstanding. In fact, I took a bit too long going through the pond as before we knew it the sun had started to set. Quickly grabbing a net and netting up some Nisai in an adjacent pond we had bowls of koi all around us. Odakan scratching his head as to what was unfolding in front of him. Time was against us.
Odakan quoted a handful of prices for Koi that he knew from memory, they all seemed very reasonable. For some of these Koi I was expecting 5 times the amount than what Odakan quoted, so we were pleasantly surprised.
Unfortunately for you guys, I have no photos or videos as it was too dark…
Tomorrow morning we will go back to Odakan, make our final selections, negotiate a deal and do photos and video.
Straight out for dinner at a local steak restaurant, the following day was planned..
Odakan first thing, then the Koide region visiting breeders such as Murata and Kobayashi Marusen. Finishing up the day at Ikarashi Toshinobu where we hope to secure the koi we had spotted this morning.
The view from Odakan over looking some of his and Maruboshi’s mud ponds.