Only a day and a half to go now so we were tight for time to achieve a few more goals for the trip. We hadn’t really managed many Koi yesterday so today and tomorrow was going to be a mad dash to the finish line.
Visiting Otsuka first thing we had heard he had a fresh harvest in of Aka Matsuba and Asagi so that’s exactly what we picked out. On arriving Otsuka quickly ran into his house, running back out he Kindly gave me a certificate from the Nogyosai with a Koi we had bought before even getting to Japan. A nice little Tancho Sanke having placed in it’s size at the show.
Picking up the net we dipped into the pond full of Asagi, Aka Matsuba, Shusui and a few Ki Utsuri’s. Selected one box of 6 Koi to go with the others we purchased last week. Really nice clean Asagi’s exhibiting early signs of Kado Gin, as well as 3 Aka Matsubas with two that have a lot of development to do but could turn out great! Good shapes and good scale formation.
Till next time Otsuka-san!! It’s been a pleasure. One of my favourite places in Niigata, I always manage to find some gems here. All of our Otsuka selections below, including the fish from last week and before we got to Japan. All now on the website.
Walking up the hill from Otsuka’s fish house lies Oya. We’ve never actually been to Oya, yet following their Koi for a few years now I particularly like their style of Sanke and of course Asagi. Back in Spring we bought an Oya Tosai via the Narita Jumbo Tosai Event. Everything about it ticked the boxes for me. Skin quality was great, shape good, sumi placement looked to be in the right places and the pattern was pleasing. Biting the bullet I took the gamble on it not knowing masses of how it’ll turn out. Well, I’m glad we did buy it now!
Greeting us to the farm, Masahito Kataoka had already bowled the Koi for us to view. Unzipping the cover from the bowl, air was bubbling away from an air stone. Immediately I knew it had done well, the skin was just as good as I thought, the colour superb and the body had filled out really well since Tosai. Pulling the air stone out of the bowl, the water settled and we a clear view of the fish. Confirming our initial thoughts, it had done really well. Huge potential with this one with heaps to do. I look forward to seeing how it develops.
Left photo is when we purchased it from the Narita event back in April @ 33cm. Right photo is today @ 53cm. (Note Tosai photo by Narita enhanced for publishing purposes).
I did have one dilemma however. Shipping one fish of this size in one box was rather uneconomical. What a nice situation to be in, being forced to buy a koi! Ok we now had to find one more Koi to go in the same box. Masahito Kataoka toured us around the for sale ponds. Nicely organised here, every pond numbered. Every pond was described to us. For sale males set price, for sale females set price, for sale females ranging in price, sold out koi. Easy! Starting in the male ponds, it was mostly Asagi, Kanoko Asagi, Yuki Asagi and some rather strange yellow koi that I couldn’t even identify. They just looked like really bad scaled Hariwake, yet non metallic and patterns were just rogue scales. Yeah, doesn’t sounds great. Someone must like them I guess…
Nothing in the male pond of interest, we then checked out the female fixed price pond. Struggling to find anything that really ticked the boxes. I was starting to doubt we’d get another Koi from here. The final pond we looked at contained the Female Go Sanke of mixed prices. These ponds are typically the more expensive ones, but prices can vary massively. Even in here I struggled to find Koi of interest the sun reflection on the water surface made things difficult. Masahito Kataoka noticed I was getting a little frustrated and said I was trying to look for Koi as good as the azukari one. While laughing he mentioned Koi like that don’t come around all too often Ok maybe my expectations were a little high after seeing our azukari one, can you blame me ? Spending a good bit of time looking in this pond, one Sanke swam out of corner of the pond just where we couldn’t see due to the reflections. Body, skin, beni, sumi, finnnage, deportment, no visible issues all check! Getting a price on it. I was shocked. Let’s put it in the bowl then! I was convinced something was wrong with it for the price he quoted. Giving is a very thorough once over everything was sound. Oya knew it was our first time to the farm, so I think this price was a little bit of a kind gesture. Seeing the level of quality the azukari was, Oya gave us a price we couldn’t refuse. Fair play to them, we’ll certainly be back. Considering this was initially a box filler, she is a very welcome one at that. Really pleased with this find, especially for the money. I don’t think it’ll hang around long.
Winding through the hills, we stopped off at a number of breeders to see if anything was of interest. In the area we visited Sakazume, Torazo, Maruhide, Izumiya and Hirashin. Nothing for us that was on the shopping list so we made our way back to the city. On our way back we stopped off to say Hello to Chikara at Nogami Koi Farm, the fish house was packed with Asian hobbyists. He appreciated us popping by but understood it wasn’t the best time to be in there picking fish. Spring time we’ll no doubt be back. From Nogami a few hundred meters away we visited Keiko at Marudo. We did have an appointment at Maruboshi so we had to make it quick. Keiko kindly showed us the for sale ponds and explained price points. Having a quick glance at the ponds I did spot a handful of Sanke that fit the bill perfectly. Fingers crossed they are still here tomorrow when we get back. The water was quite milky in colour, so choosing Koi won’t be easy for anyone. I think I stand a good chance of getting the ones I want when we come back tomorrow.
Last stop of the day was Maruboshi. Here the camera was in action photographing the 13 Koi selected the previous day. Good Koi for the money with nice beni and patterns. The Yondan Kohaku Maruboshi took a liking to looked great in the bowl on it’s own. Happy with this selection, previous years they have done well in UK water. After I had taken photographs, the next challenge was to select from a pond of 500 Tosai. This was a customer request so I won’t go into it too much. 94 Tosai Kohaku selected, it’s always good fun picking Tosai albeit it means getting pretty wet. Thankfully Maruboshi had an apron for me to wear. My jeans were already pretty soaked by the time he had realised. It’s the thought that counts I guess !
That’ll to do for today! Tonight we had dinner with Katsuyuki Hoshino of Hoshikin Koi Farm. Every dinner we have with breeders, there is always so much to learn. They all do things differently so opportunities like these have to be taken. It was good fun quizzing Katsuyuki about various subjects. The more Whiskey Highballs he had, the more he would elaborate. A few days ago at Hoshikin we viewed a 75cm Showa, you may have seen it on Facebook briefly. At the time we didn’t purchase it as it was a hefty purchase. At dinner I wanted to open up negotiations about the Koi. The Yakinuku BBQ was going down a treat, the beer too! I needed to make my move on the Showa soon before we all had a bit too much to drink. Eventually we starting discussing the Koi, proposals thrown back n forth. Struggling to find middle ground I suggested to keep it as Azukari. Finally we came to the agreement, cheaper than what we were quoted a few days ago, plus he’ll keep it azukari. Result! We were happy, Katsuyuki was happy. We weren’t sure if the night was going to take a turn for the worse as Katsuyuki ordered 2 more rounds of beers for everyone. Every day for the past 6 weeks or so Katsuyuki had been doing 12-15 hour days, prepping ponds, harvesting, selling Koi etc. It’s a lot to do for just him, mother and Son. We could see him getting tired as our meal and drinking decreased in speed. With one last drink for the road, we said our big thanks to Katsuyuki for his time while we’ve been in Japan and for hosting dinner of course! Till next time he said.
We finished up the night in the local Irish Pub….