Connoisseur Koi

Archive for October, 2010|Monthly archive page

Saturday

In Uncategorized on October 30, 2010 at 9:20 pm
The 50th Nogyosai was blessed with rain – like many of the previous shows.  Officially there is no viewing until after judging but the breeders can bench their koi up to the cut off time of 11am.  The helpers have their lunch between 11 and 12.  It is then the judges turn for lunch prior to commencing with the main task at 1.00pm at which time the show ring is cleared.  Our party looked pretty swish in our NVN tee shirts so hopefully this has helped Joop with his publicity.
All too soon we had to leave and of course Harry saw this as a great opportunity to call our party back to base.
I have had a great trip this time and hopefully you have enjoyed this dip into Niigata.
Sayonara 
Geoff san
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Friday

In Uncategorized on October 29, 2010 at 10:08 am
This is our last day out and about as tomorrow we will be visiting the 50th Nogyosai Breeders Show in Ojiya.  To save time today we went first of all to the 7 Eleven Store to buy our lunch as once up in the mountains it is a chore to have to drive back down.  I don’t know about you but having a bag full of sandwiches and snacks wears me down – they keep talking to me "eat me, eat me"!  Our first stop was a breeder that we used to call Hirasawa, then Seitaro but now Marusei.  Anyway after the Earthquake they moved to a massive warehouse and filled it with ponds built straight off the floor using shuttered concrete.  You first have to climb up to the top of the ponds and then walk across planks the length of the facility.  They have now fortunately used planks that are 50cm wide so it is not quite so hairy but there is one plank with just the ground beneath you – perhaps 2 metres down.  Walking above water seems so much safer, sure you will get wet if you fall, but I feel significantly more comfortable concerned about being wet versus splattered!
I have not bought a fish from them since they shipped us the wrong koi.  We had bought a Chagoi of 71cm which was lovely, instead they shipped a koi that was 3cm shorter with a very bad scar on its head.  They claimed that this must have been caused by transit damage!  The scar was old and if it had been damaged during the shipment the wound would have been raw.  I went today just to take my party to see it but the experience was lacking – you wanted to wipe your feet on the way out. I have posted a picture of 3 UV’s tied with string over the final tank before the water flows from the filter back into the pond.  The health and safety issues are a no brainer but I have never seen a British style UV where the pond water flows through a tube with the bulb inside like the TMC type.
Happy to leave the next stop was Miyatora.  I was surprised to see that the family house had been demolished and whilst there were still koi inside the sign on the door said "Closed – New House".  Not knowing the location of the new house we moved on.  After dropping in at a couple of other breeders we filled with petrol on the way up to Mushigame.  The lunch bag had started talking to me again and this time I was too weak and succumbed.  The next stop was a small part time breeder called Takano who produces some very nice Koromo.  The last time I bought from him was the year of the Earthquake.  Sadly our koi were lost and I had not been back since.  The size is just so much smaller that the sort of fish we now buy with a Sansai only measuring 40cm.  A couple more nissai were bought and it was back to the Miyakoya Auction House who were holding their Friday sale.  Although the koi are now sold in oxygenated bags the Bio Security risk makes me shudder.  All that said the noise of the auctioneer swiftly moving between lots is fascinating.

Thursday

In Uncategorized on October 28, 2010 at 9:38 pm
The weather forecast in the lift looked ominous – it showed the likelihood of rain as 50% in the morning and 70% after lunch.  Annoyingly as usual it was 100% right.  After completing some paperwork at NND and Donald getting a photograph on his camera phone we drove the short distance to Nogami’s.  There was a full house there as Riyuki from Narita Koi Farm was bowling koi after koi.  They are a major player in Niigata and throughout Japan buying many koi both top end and lower down the price ranges.  Most of the Grand Champions at the All Japans in recent years have been supplied and grown on through them.  So in short I guess he took priority over little old me.  Once they were finished it was off to Nogamis last harvest of the season.  We drove up into the mountains above his house to a pond I have visited many times. It is his largest and has in my visits been used for his biggest koi right down to this year holding 44 of his best Nissai.  Irrespective of the weather the harvest went ahead – as well as steady rain it continued to be very cold as well.  Once the koi started being carried up to the truck we soon warmed up though.  All 44 were harvested slickly by the team and in no time they were on their way back.  It took us a little longer as with a bigger people carrier it was not too easy to turn round but with a bit of help as two people jumped out to guide me in the 24 point turn it was relatively easy.  I would like to think that jumping out was to help, in reality I think it was concern for their personal safety that was the motivator!
Back at the farm Nogami quickly graded them into high grade, low grade and male ponds. The "one" fish from the Harvest stood out by miles and when I asked for a price Nogami held his head shaking it saying No.  Eventually when he quoted it was of course seriously expensive but the white if amazing, the depth and quality of Hi superb, but the clincher for me was the just perfect body shape.
After lunch we toured round Mushigame village taking us to the final stop of the day at Ikarashi Koi Farm.  We walked through the bigh fish house before settling down in the gobsmacking small koi house which is the home of quite astonishing fish from nissai right through to monsters of the deep.

Wednesday

In Uncategorized on October 27, 2010 at 1:56 pm
First stop this morning was at Kaneko Koi Farm to take a peak at the newly harvested Shiros.  The pond contents were all black and white and consequently no colour food had been fed all summer.  With the heat this summer quite a high percentage – around 40% – have been put back into the mudpond as the Sumi has gone down.  These will be harvested after all the buyers have left the mountains at the end of November and then left in the indoor concrete ponds in the fish houses where the black may resurface ready to restock the mudponds in May.  I was lucky enough to be able to buy some quite joyous Tategoi with serious pattern potential. I am looking forward to getting these back home and watching as the sumi strengthens.  Out of the same harvest I also bought a lovely Gin Rin Hajiro and a nicely bodied Kumonryu.
As we arrived at Yagenji Koi Farm we were just in time to see the unloading of their Jumbo Harvest.  Firstly they placed the customers koi into the sold pond then it was straight onto the main pond to introduce the big boys to their new home.  First in wa a beauty I remember from last Autumn when as their No. 1 four year old it was not for sale.  This year is has grown significantly in terms of body and at 70cm is a real beauty. I bowled her for one of my customers and was nearly knocked off my feet with the clamour of people wanting to take photographs.  My customer is thinking about her but he had better move quickly!

Tuesday

In Uncategorized on October 26, 2010 at 10:36 pm
A wet October day didnt dampen spirits too much.  So another day in paradise – but this time a not so dry one.  Today we travelled anti-clockwise up into the mountains with the first stop at Torazo and it was good to see some bigger koi harvested since my last drop in.  A very short drive up the road and on the other side is Torazo’s higher grade facility.  Sadly though Torazo was harvesting so we could not buy.  A brief stop at Miyaishi was a good reality check on the "normal" size of nissai rather than the jumbo sizes we have been looking at since getting here.  An interesting thought is that with 50 to 60cm nissai becoming  more of the norm coupled with the 15 year high in the value of the Yen the cost of shipping a nissai has doubled.
Other stops today included Yozaimon who again were out harvesting!  Yagenji  was there  so we had another dip!  On the trip with us is a great guy, Paul from Holland, who has taken relentless stick from his fellow countrymen.  They have been calling him Ken, of Barbie fame, but today he came out with a classic and proclaimed himself "Pistol Paul".  You can imagine how that was received and the merciless micky taking went up a gear.  Our last call was at Kaneko’s – he was keen to show us the results of a Tancho harvest.  It very quickly turned into a Masterclass with Yasuaki explaining how difficult it is to produce Tancho Showa and Kujaku.  This summer as water temperatures were at 33 to 34o c rather than being beneficial to growth they had to reduce feeding to 70% of normal. Another impact was in the loss of Hi which in a Tancho Kujaku is fairly limiting! We were shown a couple of examples of Gin matsuba that have a much, much lower value.  It is not easy being a koi breeder.  You tend to look at the expensive fish but it is at the lower end of their production where they need to get their money back.

Monday

In Uncategorized on October 25, 2010 at 1:50 pm
We gathered bright and early but perhaps a little worse for wear.  My overnight problems of a non-functioning laptop had been remedied.  Somehow I had got it into "safe mode" which means a snail moves faster!  The old trick of removing and reinstalling the battery worked again!  A hurtle round the mountains saw us late morning at Kaneko where I was fortunate to find a quite amazing 2 year female 50cm Kumonryu.  The white is to die for, the black is balanced but low down on both sides, all capped off with the most delicate metallic tipping to both pecs.  I just had to buy it.  A quick lunch before the main event.
It was back on the well worn road to Yomogihira for Makoto’s Super Jumbo Nissai harvest as featured on Mark Gardener’s site earlier in May when the koi were released.  It only seemed polite to invite him to join us and shoot more footage.
We were alll blown away, including Mark, with the harvest.  The pond contained 17 koi, four of which are owned by a Malaysian hobbyist – the rest being for sale. 
Back at Marusho Koi Farm the spectacle of this wonderful collection of jumbo nissai just caused silence.  Most of the fish were 60cm, the biggest registering 63cm.  He is a man who is truly at the top of his game.  Dirty Harry from Holland was with me and decided to buy the koi which, for both Mark and myself, was number 1.  She has a very big broad head, superb skin quality and a large expanse of pure white skin on the shoulder.  All topped off with intense lacquer sumi.  A truly imposing koi.  Donald was rather taken by a couple and will have a tortuous night I am sure as two magnificent Sanke are swimming round his dreams.

Sunday

In Uncategorized on October 24, 2010 at 6:07 pm
Nagaoka Show 2010 Male Champion is won by the Oomo Showa owned by Donald Kerr.  Everyone was saying that it cant be male – including two English Judges.  Donald has taken some stick for buying male koi so I guess it is eat your words time!
A great social day meeting many old friends and seeing some spectacular koi.  What a great Koi Show and not one dry goods stand in sight.  The whole show was set up yesterday by all the breeders, run by the breeders and packed down by the same people.  It was a joy to see so many volunteers.

Saturday

In Uncategorized on October 23, 2010 at 2:42 pm
A complicated day trying to sort out a few things but then struck lucky with a great dip at Yagenji who had some new nissai harvested yesterday.  I found a delightful Gin Tancho Sanke with quite amazing white but with no sumi on the surface but you can clearly see it underlying – fingers crossed it surfaces back in our ponds.  A cracking Gin Rin Benigoi with a dream body was also bought.  A great day out for koi for customers with a remarkable Goshiki of the highest class with pure unblemished deep red and impressive white skin with delicate black reticulation just beginning to show.  Another customer koi that I have been looking for since getting here was also found today.  It is a Marusho sanke with a classy and understated pattern.  Its key features are its delicate small sumi which is likely to strengthen in the UK but the strongest feature is the quality of the white skin.
The Nagaoka Show was being erected today and I was flattered to be invited to be a judge at the show but reluctantly had to turn the offer down as I have my customer with me.  But I am looking forward to getting over there tomorrow to bring you some photos.

Friday

In Uncategorized on October 22, 2010 at 2:27 pm
A very busy day sorting out replacement koi, shipping koi and growing on koi.  Hence just a few pics and few words – I am totally exhausted!

Thursday

In Uncategorized on October 21, 2010 at 8:08 pm
Another bright and early start straight to Marusho Koi Farm to select some Izumiya male Yamabuki Ogon that I needed.  Also picked up a very special male Sanke for use as male parent stock in the UK.  The clock was ticking though and it was off to the Grow and Show Harvest.  A dismal day for weather with very low clouds as we climbed higher and higher to a lovely pond that I had not been to before.  As we only had 10 pieces growing ours were mixed in with some other Gosanke nissai.  The average size was 45cm but interestingly on some of our Sanke the sumi had gone down equally some of the Showa had experienced the same development.  I am sure that a few weeks in the concrete ponds will see the sumi begin to resurface.  Looking at the photographs this evening I really am looking forward to seeing this koi back in the UK.
Nogami had a fantastic result with two koi grown by him in the last year.  One, a 4 year old, had grown to 73cm possessing a strong body that should continue to grow well back in the UK.  The other one is a very special koi selected by Connoisseur Koi Holland which looks incredibly imposing at 75cm.
A tiring day but very satisfying