Today we had two appointments to meet. The first being at Sakai Yamamatsu AKA Matsunosuke. Legendary Sanke breeder the younger generation of the Sakai family are creating some really special Koi here in Niigata. In the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s this Farm was one of the busiest around, famed for the Sanke in particular. Many top breeders such as Sakai Fish Farm and Momotaro had their Oyagoi from here.
Toshiaki Sakai invited us into his office out of the pouring rain. We sat down and discussed the UK koi market and his Koi over a cup of coffee and sweets.
Toshiaki and ourselves conjured up a plan…
Taking us down to his Tategoi house he proceeded to net a handful of Sansai and Yonsai Koi. Explaining different traits of each one and the parent fish used. Teaching us about how these Koi looked as Tosai, talking about pattern elements and Beni quality.
We aimed to secure a handful of special Tategoi Tosai. The plan was to leave them here till Nisai and possibly Sansai. Toshiaki netted the two ponds of his Tategoi, one consisting of Kohaku and one containing Sanke.
He then started to bowl Koi as we peered into the seine net full of Koi, getting in on the act pointing out a couple for him to bowl.
Blown away by the the quality of these, the bodies, skin and patterns were phenomenal. We could see why these were his Tategoi. Finding it hard to put back many, I zoned in on each fish trying to find faults. We couldnt have them all! Only 3 Sanke went back out of the 14 that were in the bowl, not because they weren’t good, they just weren’t suited to the UK market. Choosing for quality, it was a bonus the patterns were all nice and different in their own right.
Moving on to the Kohaku pond, there weren’t so many to go at compared to the Sanke pond. 6 Kohaku were bowled and there was a clear difference in two of them. Toshiaki explained why these two Koi were so different to the others.
This is the first year he has had Tosai direct descendant of a Sakai Fish Farm Karashigoi and Kohaku. The body on both of these Koi had such height to them, the depth on the body was like nothing I’d seen before on any Koi let alone in Go Sanke. See if you can spot them in the photos below ?
In total we selected 15 koi, 11 Sanke and 4 Kohaku.
These will all stay as an Azukari project at Yamamatsu. Toshiaki mentioned that no one had ever bought so many of his Tategoi in one go before. For this reason the price of these Koi as Nisai and quality to be expected is very good. All guaranteed on death or if they turn Male. There is a slight chance we will offer these for sale soon.
Saying our goodbye to Toshiaki-san we hopped in the car and drove to our next appointment. Maruhiro Koi Farm.
Building up a good relationship with Maruhiro he offered some of his Tosai for selection. A thousand or so to pick from. At the side of the road, in the rain. Only in Japan!
Maruhiro grabbed his net and pulled up 8-10 koi in the net at a time. I then picked out the ones I wanted into a floating net to my left and put the koi I didn’t want in the net to the right. This didn’t take too long and within 15 minutes or so we had 80 fish. A huge range of variety. Chagoi, Gin Rin Chagoi, Ki Matsuba Ogon, Soragoi, Doitsu Mukashi, Shusui, Kohaku, Gin Rin Showa, Ki Utsuri, Hi Utsuri and more! Nice size Tosai for the money. These will be exclusively for sale at the National Koi Show 2018. Unfortunately due to being outside and in the rain we didn’t bowl them for a photo and video sample. We will arrange this once back in the UK.
Having a short coffee break we then made our way into the Koi house. As always the ponds were full to the brim of koi. With so many to choose from it was hard to know where to start. Up the level to the ponds in the middle the water was very murky. A great breeder trick hiding his fish!
The longer we spent looking in the pond the more fish we could see to net up. It’s tricky when there are so many koi and the water is murky so you really do have to bowl the Koi even if you put back 90% of them. Even Maruhiro was finding it hard to find the Koi so he reached over to the filter system and pulled out a standpipe. A huge surge of water from the 4 ponds, it must have emptied 10,000 gallons of water within 10 minutes. This made it much easier to see the koi in the shallower water.
Managing to find some really nice Koi these weren’t exactly on the shopping list but the quality was lovely. Gin Rin Asagi, Aka Matsuba, Ki Matsuba Ogon and an awesome Ki Utsuri. All female, Nisai and around 50-55cm.
A good shopping day so far we were on a roll.
The last few days Yamazaki has been tricky to nail down and meet him at his koi house. We were really after some Doitsu Karashigoi and Karashigoi, finally timing it right we had to make a quick getaway from Maruhiro to meet up with Yamazaki. The rolling mist through the mountains, visibility was really poor at times and disguised many of the taller peaks. The perfect hiding spot for koi soon to be in the mud ponds.
In to the fish house we viewed all of the ponds for sale. We settled on one of the Nisai ponds to select from. The Sansai and older ponds weren’t really of interest. An exceptional Gin Shiro was bowled, yet within 5 minutes the Sumi had totally vanished on it, a real magic trick! I have seen on a number of occasions Metallic Sumi disappearing when in the bowl, but this was impressively bad! I wish I had a before and after photo. It looked like a Purachina within 5 minutes. So I popped it back in the pond it came from.
Yamazaki the magician with all of his bowls. A little on-going joke we have with Yamazaki, this time I captured him on camera getting all of his bowls in place. We ending up using just the one, with the others annoyingly being in the way.
Moving on, I grabbed a net and started sifting through numerous Doitsu Karashigoi and Karashigoi of varying colours and scale formations. A few other varieties made their way into the bowl too. Not wanting to go over the top, we made a box of 10 fish. Doitsu Karashigoi, Karashigoi, Shiro Utsuri, Purachina (not the Gin Shiro!) and a Gin Rin Tancho Ochiba. Lovely Koi that we do very well with back home. These will sell out fast so so get in quick. All on the website for sale at £195.00.
A good end to a productive day.
Tomorrow morning we go to Hoshikin early on to select Jumbo a Tosai Kohaku and hopefully Showa.
Then the 8 hour car journey to Okayama.