Japan Pilgrimage begins!

Finally, Japan Autumn 2018 is here! 

Over the last few weeks we’ve been itching to get to Japan. For anyone that’s visited Japan they’ll tell you hunting for Koi is such an addiction! It really is a pilgrimage and the excitement leading up to each trip feels like it increases every time. It feels like a long time ago we were in Japan, thousands of Koi have been sold in the shop over the summer period and we’re ready to source more top quality Koi for our customers.  

Although it was only 6 months ago we were in Japan, the Autumn trip and Spring trips differ greatly. Autumn poses the greatest selection of Nisai and above koi for sale, the harvests draw vasts amounts of people to the Mecca of Koi. 

More often than not, it can sometimes feel like we’re Clint Eastwood in a Wild West classic. Standing over a bowl of Koi with the breeder firing price negotiations back and forth. 

Navigating Tokyo has become very familiar now and we always aim to break our record arrival time to Niigata. Making our way through passport control and baggage claim within minutes, we were on target to get to Niigata around midday which is typically impossible. Alas, the bullet train timetable wasn’t quite in our favour. Having to wait at Tokyo station for an hour, we’d arrive to Nagaoka, Niigata at 1:30pm. 

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Although we couldn’t beat our previous best time, we still managed it in good time. From the House door to our first breeder it took circa 24 hours of travel. 

Tired, jet lagged, passing in and out of sleep, we knew the journey was going to be worth it. Why are we rushing to get to Niigata if we feel horrible… to feed the Koi addiction of course. Launching our bags at the friendly hotel porter in the politest way possible, a lightening quick freshen up and off we went to our first breeder of the trip.

Phew! Mission complete. 

Driving into the hills we wanted to scout out some of the breeders and carry out a bit of research at breeders to find out information on harvests scheduled and to also see what’s available now to pick. 

Hiroi has harvested around 50% of their Nisai so the ponds were relatively full, many varieties including Gin Rin Kohaku, Gin Rin Showa, Doitsu varieties, Goshiki and Gin Rin Goshiki. We’ll be heading back Thursday morning as another Nisai harvest was due, hopefully we can get in quick and make some selections. 

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Moving on to Otsuka, it was fairly slim on the ground with only a handful of Koi that caught the eye. Again, In a few days time he’s due more in and we plan on raiding his ponds when the time is right.

A short drive back on the way back to town, we then visited Odakan and Maruboshi who are adjacent to each other. The state of the art Odakan facility opposite Maruboshi’s traditional wooden built Koi house are like two worlds apart 5 metres from each other. Both with extremely good fish in them. Maruboshi had a load of Nisai recently in, having been harvested not long before our arrival their condition wasn’t the best, so we’ll return in a few days once they have settled in.

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Starting to get dark we drove to Hoshikin and Dainichi, again only a stones throw apart from each other.  

Greeted by Katsuyuki of Hoshikin we arranged to help him out with a Nisai harvest later in the week. We then proceeded to net up a handful of Koi, with one in particular that screamed “Buy me!”. A beautiful Showa with luxurious glossy skin, coupled with thick beni, lacquer like Sumi and a wonderful body shape. Price quoted, we’ll sit on our hands for a few days while we decide whether or not to have it. It’s quite expensive, but for good reason. The only downside with this fish was the lack of Motoguro in one pec, there is a tiny amount which can only be seen in the flesh, but for now we just weren’t 100% committed to it for this reason and the price. Coming back on Thursday, we’ll take another look at it and decide from there. Short video taken on the iPhone as she was measured at 53cm. Serious contender for young champion at koi shows next year if the size can be managed well. If a anyone is interested, then please get in touch and I can give you the details. That goes for the Kohaku too!


Saying our good byes to Katsuyuki and staff, we hopped across the road to Dainichi. At Dainichi there are always vast amounts of Koi available of all varying grades. Having a quick walk around their number one koi house, seeing the 1m long specimens in all their glory never gets boring! Dainichi are experimenting a little with a handful of ponds with a new lighting system, with lights rigged up over the ponds, bright LED lights beaming down on the Koi these apparently give off certain PAR levels which is suppose to mimic sun light and encourage better colours over the winter months. Whether or not it’ll work is another matter. Credit to Dainichi for trying it out though. It’s not as if their Koi had bad colours anyway! Sun tan and heavy clay treatment for koi!

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Walking into the opposite fish house, the place was buzzing with people. A dozen bowls scattered around with plenty of fish being netted and scooped into bowls. Watching everyone netting and making their selections, I was dubious at first whether or not the ponds had been heavily picked over. Being nosey and peering at some of the Koi other dealers had chosen, the quality varied hugely so I knew there was still going be some great koi to be had.

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We made our way to the bottom of the koi house away from everyone else, filled a bowl with water and grabbed a net. Spending time looking at the Female Nisai pond it was slim pickings on first look. There were some very big Nisai that really stuck out due to their size. Yet the general quality wasn’t what I was after. Out of nowhere, a smaller Kohaku emerged from beneath a floating net that was in the pond. Giving it a quick look over, it was quickly netted. How did no one else spot this Koi I thought! A nice Shiro Utsuri made it’s way into the bowl too, other than these two I struggled to find anything else. With the auction coming up this week, we hope to buy more Koi in the auction to make shipping more reasonable. 

Shigeru spent a lot of time over the bowl looking at the Kohaku, elaborating what he was saying with hand gestures he explained how he loved the body and pattern in particular. Although not the biggest of Nisai for Dainichi. Shigeru mentioned the Koi was from a later spawning of Mihara X. Having spawned later in the year this explains why it was smaller than others, so it’s not small for it’s age it’s just younger. The more Shigeru talked about it, we soon realised it wasn’t going to be cheap. Due to the price, we discussed the possibility of Azukari. Shigeru explained it was a good idea. If all goes well, he suggested the All Japan Young Koi Show. 

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Agreeing an azukari fee for the Kohaku, Shigeru went on to explain how the Koi will be kept and conditioned for the future. He’ll be keeping the Kohaku in his number 1 fish house with an intensive feeding regime over winter and Sumer, feeding solely FD Koi Foods. Keeping it in a concrete pond ensures that the koi can be kept under watch at all times and can be monitored closely. 

Very happy with our first two purchases of the trip, it was now 8pm and time for dinner! We were shattered.

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At least the koi addiction had been satisfied for the day.

Dainichi Kohaku and Dainichi Shiro Utsuri

Dainichi Kohaku is offspring of Mihara X, the Shiro Utsuri is offspring of the famous Mona Lisa. The Shiro had recently been harvested, and will whiten up in a short period. Great growing shape for a Shiro!

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