Yesterday left us feeling a little disappointed with the numbers of fish we bought. The first few days can always be hit and miss. We hope scouting out proves worthwhile for later on in the trip. However, today was another day and it didn’t disappoint.
Off to Kanno up in the mountains in search of Goshiki primarily, Ochiba and Sanke. Last Spring at Kanno they had started to excavate for a new fish house, a short 4 months later they had built the ponds, plumbed everything in and filled them. Pretty good going! Now filled with fish there were beautiful Koi to select from. Looking in the most expensive pond first, a Sanke caught my eye. Price quoted, I should have been sitting down! It was 3 to 4x the amount I was thinking, so that was a no go. Moving into the original koi house, here he had Goshiki in abundance. Selecting through hundreds of fish it was hard to see the koi as the water was murky. When the Koi crowded up together it was hard work catching the ones we wanted. 30 fish went into bowls for closer inspection. Paying attention to body shapes, style of grey robing, beni quality and skin quality. Around half of the koi went back into the pond.
Finalising 13 koi, photos and videos were taken. Kanno exclaimed that one Sanke was very good for koi shows especially in European water. He’d hope the sumi would develop well in harder cooler water.
Saying our thanks to Kanno we took the short drive over to Otsuka. Famed for his Kage Shiro Utsuri, Asagi, Aka Matsuba, Shiro Utsuri, Ki Utsuri and various other varieties we knew we’d be having some fun here. Pointing out Koi to Yoshikazu-san, he duly netted them and placed them in the bowl. The first of which was a blinding Shiro Utsuri. Beautiful skin quality with hints of kado-gin on the shiroji. The second wasn’t far behind quality wise either! Of course we had to bowl some Aka Matsuba, our guilty pleasure! In the bowl we had Shiro Utsuri’s, Aka Matsuba, Kage Shiro, Ki Utsuri, Tancho Goshiki and two stunning smaller Showa. Yoshikazu-san was amazed I managed to find the Showa’s among the larger Koi. Although 95% of this pond has fish between 60-80cm, the smaller ones are in there for a reason, because they’re so good. He went on to explain that one of the Showas was booked in to attend the Nogyosai Show… he got to the show and realised he forgot one fish, this one being the one! He thinks it would have competed really well. While discussing the Showa, he mentioned a sibling that did go to the Nogyosai and was awarded a 2nd place award. We asked if we could see it.
While I was photographing our selections, he drove to his secret Koi house and brought this Showa back in a bowl on the back of his van. Blowing us away with the skin and colour in particular. We just had to have it.
First Showa is the Nogyosai award winner, the second and third the siblings.
Time for a quick lunch at 711, our next appointment was a good drive away at Hosokai. Winding through the mountains, the rain started to come down and had turned a lot cooler. Hosokai’s fish house isn’t the best for seeing the fish or photographing on a normal day, with the lack of natural day light and murky water, this wasn’t going to be an easy task.
Various Koi were bowled included two outstanding Showa. We do very well with Hosokai Showa back home so we knew these two were worth every penny. In fact, we were surprised with the price. If these were at Isa they would have been 10x the price!! Also in the bowl went a handful of Kujakus, mostly females. A few more Kujakus than needed, but when they’re available and good, why not have them!
Not wasting any time due to the light, photos and videos were taken. When the two Showas went into the bowl on their own and in cleaner water, they were outstanding and unbeatable value!!! No sales pitch needed for these two, both already sold!
Hosokai selections below.
The weather was not on our side, light had quickly faded yet the sun wasn’t due to set for at least another hour. Being quite far from any other breeder our options were limited on where to go next. We said thank you to Hosokai and wife and made our way back down the mountains back towards the hotel in Nagaoka. On passing we thought we may as well quickly nip into Hoshikin to see Katsuyuki-san and the harvest koi. Surprising him on arrival, he told us the koi were under treatment so we couldn’t see the fish anyway. Peering into the murky water, we knew we were going to be dipping the nets in here. Back tomorrow.
That’s all for day 3. A much more productive day. More fish, higher quality pieces and some great homework done for later on in the trip.
P.S Top Japanese tip of the day!