Gatwick Koi Japan News Blog Updates
Sometimes this trip in April/May can be very frustrating , sometimes its hard to still find quality as most stocks have been heavily picked through , sometimes a pond that may have been overwintered gets harvested and sometimes you get a phone call saying a breeder has just selected his final tategoi and the tateshita is available to purchase . Sometimes it can be very frustrating , like yesterday afternoon , visiting breeders that you like one after the other , and finding nothing .After our first visit of the day at Yamazaki , I started to feel that today was going to go the same way .We looked through all that he had available , there was nothing that I really needed . So a discussion then took place on where to go , Oofuchi was mentioned , but at this time of year he really has lower quality nisai , and nice tosai . As we were struggling a little for appointments , as a lot of the breeders were getting ready for the forthcoming show this weekend , we decided to go and visit Oofuchi and see what the tosai that were left were like . On arrival we first went to the nisai house as the breeders were there with someone else . This turned out to be a great piece of luck , there were loads of nisai there , and of quite good quality to some excellent ones . I started netting straight away , and got some very nice sanke , tanchos , kumonryu , kujaku and a few others . I seemed to be getting box after box , and it wasn’t until the paper work was done , I realised I had caught and bought 42 nisai , from 30cm to 45cm . This was a real lucky break , as this week I was happy with the quality I had bought , just worried about the quantity , so joking and laughing with spirits raised much higher , it wasn’t until about 20 mins later someone said , “ errrr we diddnt look at the tosai “ , I really did want to see them , but wasn’t complaining as we had really got some nice koi at a great price ! From here it was 7-11 for lunch , loads of calls trying to find breeders that wernt setting up the show . Kase seemed to be the only one in , so off we went . Kase has started to breed shiros again for the last few years and they are very nice , on arrival he still had a few nisai left , so 10 were selected and then we looked at the sansai and nisai showa . There were some very nice showa , he breeds from Sekiguchi / Dianichi parents , so I bowled up a female yonsai , sansai and some nisai including a tancho showa , Kase asked if we liked males , of course I replied looking at the bowl of females wondering how we could get the price down a little , so before long a second bowl of showa was filled up and five were selected and a price was given and rapidly accepted for all the koi . After a great day we took a few minutes out for pics of the last blossom and decided to drive up to mushigame for some scenary shots and have an early day . We crossed through Ojiya and started up through the mountains and passed Maruhiro , who was sitting outside drinking coffee , he must have seen us as immdediatly the phone started ringing , coffee ??? Oh go on then .We were soon joined by a few people who decided that his farm is also a great coffee shop , including a couple of Australian koi keepers who were touring around , must have been very frustrating for them , as we see koi we cant afford , they see koi they cant buy full stop , due to Australian laws forbidding the import of koi . As much as I felt bad for them , time is money so I bowled up some koi , and soon had a great sansai showa 66cm , and 48 cm sanke , both to be returned to the mudponds this summer . As we started looking before we knew it Hinori san got netting koi and showed us a 64cm sansai gin rin sanke , and a 60cm sansai kohaku , these were purchased and time to call it a day . Pics to follow as usual within a couple of hours
First appointment this morning , was at one of my favourite go sanke breeders Kazuto. Always known for his high end koi , and some would say high end prices to match ! We have been dealing with this guy for some time now on and off , but the last two years we have started buying a lot of his tosai , and suddenly prices seem reasonable , or at least affordable ! Last year we purchased around 60 jumbo tosai , this sold very well and were around 25cm , some smaller and some larger , one even went on to win baby champion at the South east koi clubs new spring show . On arrival , this grade of koi were already sold to one customer ,a problem that seems common now with the Asian market growing rapidly . We were shown another pond but these were three or four times the price of the ones we purchased last year , but around 30cm and way better quality ! After working out how much they were landed , I decided to pass and was taken to another pond , these were nice tosai , and around 18-22cm , so I selected through these around 30 nice go sanke and was very happy as these were very affordable for the quality . I took a last look at the Jumbo tosai before we left , I was a a little miffed to be honest at being pipped at the ones we selected through last year if I was honest , these grew very well only be fed three times a day , so we started talking to the breeder and after a while a new price was agreed on , but only for picking three boxes , I was over the moon , this new level of tosai was really where I wanted to be , the price was still very high , and they will sell for way more than last year , but are way better as well . The whole pond was netted , and soon we had selected around 50 pieces , and we selected through these to make my final selection , The skin quality was awesome , and the patterns suited to shows in the uk . Most were around 30cm , some bigger and some a little smaller . Feeling pretty happy I returned to the car after doing all the pics and videos , I know if I had worked out what I had spent landed in the uk I wouldn’t sleep tonight , so i diddnt think about it again , wont be looking at the buying file for a couple of days lol ! After this we went and had lunch with Maruhiro , and then selected some tosai at his place in Kawaguchi , some nice examples of go snake and unusual non go sanke including orenji ogons , very clean and one or two gin rin ones as well . We the returned to his main facility , the night before we had found 4 very nice sansai showa , they looked really good , but the light was bad so we needed to see them again .On bowling them up they were nice , but not at the level we were looking for , not the breeders fault , this time of year the koi have been selected through and through , and even Maruhiro runs out , but a good reminder of why we don’t buy later in the day when the light gets bad . We then spent the rest of the day visiting various breeders , but diddnt really see what caught my eye , Marasaka had some nice sansai , but again not what I needed , same at Hirashin . A quick coffee at Hasegawa and we were shown some amazing Kohaku , but bearing in mind what I had bought that morning we decided to pass . Although only buying at one breeder , it was a very successful day , which ended on a great night spent with Hosakai at a French resteraunt in Ojiya , after returning to my room around 11 I was ocver come with the need to sleep , so very sorry but everything will be running late on getting the koi on the website . pics to follow .
When you have been dealing with different breeders on and off over 30 trips to Japan , you learn never to expect the expected , and always expect the unexpected ! Ok so that may not make sence , but to other dealers who have visited Niigata , or customers for that matter , you will know what I mean . You can visit your favourite breeder and turn up some great koi , then next visit nothing . Very pleased that diddnt happen to us on our first appointment today which was at Hosakai koi farm , although when I first walked into the farm I thought that was going to be the case , every pond I looked in delivered nothing in terms of quality on our last couple of visits , so getting worried and assuming the better quality fish house would be sold out at this time of year I started to feel this trip would be a disappointing to one of our favourite breeders , trying to remain positive we ventured into the other koi house .I needn’t have worried , plenty of koi of all varietys and fairly reasonable prices . First of all I bought 4 female nisai 45-55cm , shiros and showa . There were some great male koi and the prices again were very fair , a two step kohaku of show quality , showa , stunning skin quality shiro utsuri and the last described by the breeder as a goromo showa , not sure that id agree , but worth a go as the skin quality was very nice ! On making the last box up , I felt a little brave so went and looked at his best pond , two nisai around 50cm grabbed my attention , when I pointed at them I heard the words we all hate , ah Gary san totemo takai , loosely translated as very expensive . I tried not to laugh as being in his best pond I had kinda worked that out ! I got them bowled and we spoke at length about their quality , and along with four more female nisai , showa , two sankes were all purchased once again with what I thought was a very fair price , one shiro it was decieded should stay in Japan for the summer , very very pleased , a great mornings work ! We then visited the tosai house and was offered a hand selection of very nice koi around 16-20cm , the breeder then pointed out some other tosai in various other nets all around the building . These were not cheap , but once again the quality was outstanding , so it was a case half a dozen from here , hald a dozen from there etc etc , and an hour later a bowl of outstanding tosai ( shame my pics don’t do them justice ! ) A few very unusual varetys as well , including two kage shiro utsuris , one of which had the darkest sumi I had seen for a long time . From here it was off to the 7-11 to grab a well over due egg sandwich and hot coffee from a tin . On the way back to Ojiya city we visited Chogaro as he had some tateshita goshiki , I decieded to pass on them as we had already purchased quite a few from Kanno on our last two trips . It was off then to see Maruju Tamaka and have a look at some more tosai to select from , unfortuanatly we visited the nisai house and it all went wrong , we always have a chat and a laugh as Shigy has a great sense of humour , this time he was being serious and started chatting about his koi and explaining more and more ( as he does every visit ) about his koi and the great skin quality they have , before we all knew it there was half a dozen nisai 40-45cm in the bowl ,he started talking about which ones and why they would be good to leave in the mudponds , did some one say Azukari ? that was it , I was hooked line and sinker and ended up buying three . The first was a female sanke which was absolutely stunning , skin quality off the charts but with a little secondary near the tail , this was very close/on top of some underlying sumi , so hopefully of all goes well ………………….. , next a gin rin showa , this was not only gin rin but the whole koi had a metallic lustre about it and again anther destined for the mudond , this time the breeder couldn’t be sure of the sex , so readjusted the price which reflected this , so this was purchased as well , thinking id got away with just two nisai ( as this really is a tosai based trip and ive already bought way too many nisai ) Shigy started recommended another sanke to be left in Japan , a maruten female which again had great skin quality but along with a body shape to match , so again purchased to be left out in the mudponds . With three nisai purchased I had to push on to the subject of hand selecting tosai , the breeder laughed and said oops sorry , I havnt taken all the tategoi out , ill do it tomorrow ! Oh well , the nisai were a great buy and I like to see his fish come out of the mudponds , so something to look forward to in October !!! From here we started the drive down the mountain only to see that Sakai was in his fish house, as he hadnt seen us i banged on the door with my flat hand , he really did jump , more than I expected , and as I looked round I saw the reason why , he was just making a cup of coffee , and at the precise moment I banged the door he was just lighting a rather large gas grill , he must have thought his days were numbered lol ! He took it well and we joined him for coffee along with Mark Gardner , and soon the conversation was down to its usual unprintable subjects . One sensible thing that came out of the conversation was he had entered my little koi into the forthcoming international baby koi show , but more about that another day ! It was getting late so we popped into Maruhiro on the way back to talk about tosai selection , and once again the subject was delayed by the process of bowling larger nisai and sansai , showa and sanke , these were of very high quality and this time I had to take some time out to think about what he has offered me , so all koi were reserved until tomorrow when we will go back with a nights sleep behind me ( hopefully !) . As usual , pics to follow in an hour or twos time ……
Im finally in the hotel after a 21 hour journey . Things were not looking to good for me getting here , on Friday I offered to help a contractor run a whole length of two inch pipework underground in a void next to a swimming pool and spa . This void was about a meter high and 80cm wide , now as you now im not a small guy so with two of us down there all morning temp was around 30 degrees , so we put on a bit of a spurt to get out as quick as we could .Climbing over the racking for pipes and cables , I must have strained something in my hip , as the next day I got out of the car and twisted again and then found I could hardly walk . Then I also found out my upgrade was cancelled to economy , so in agony and facing the smallest seat id flown in for years , I was getting a little concerned . Sunday morning founded me loaded up with every pain killer known to mankind and I just about got in the taxi . Arriving at the gate for my flight I was asked to hang on to the end , and the staff seeing I was in pain finally got me back my upgrade , very lucky indeed as I don’t think I could have sat for 11 hours in a economy seat , even with the aid of every chemical company known to mankind ! The flight was great and I managed to get a bit of sleep , but to my surprise when I awoke I found the my hip pain had eased up and I could get around a bit easier . Got through the airport and did the usual monorail , tube and bullet train and found myself in Nagaoka by around 12 , in the first breeder for 12.30 ! I know what your all thinking , Maruhiro ??? Well your wrong , Tanaka has a new fish house for selecting tosai , and its on the way to Maruhiro so it was just logisitics and we know we could hand select tosai . Tanaka Maruju is an amazing farm , we always manage to find great koi here , his skin quality is superb on his koi . We started looking at some great nisai , go sanke and gin rin go snake , but then the topic changed to tosai , he gave us a fair price on some tosai which were very nice and could be hand selected , I was going to select a few when he showed us another pond , these were individually priced and very expensive !!!! So I jokingly said I was looking for something in between the two ponds , and he replied yes I have , just sorting the ones I want for tategoi and then you can select them , that’s why I like Tanaka , always obliging !!!So tomorrow we will go to see the other pond and decide which to select . We then drove to Marusei , I never fail to get impressed by this farm , even in April he is fully stocked , fish of every variety and quality . Unfortunatley they were very busy doing a shipment so we had a quick look and thought it best to get out of the way . From here , yes that’s right , Third breeder we went to Maruhiro . As most of you know , I love this guy , we met years ago when we were both young men and he was the younger brother working at Hirasawa koi farm . Since he went on his own we have helped and supported each other and become firm friends , always plenty of fish to be found , again like his brother many varietys , size and quality . Over the last few years the koi at this farm have taken a serious increase in quality , his gin rin showa and kohaku are second to none , but his showa are doing very well in the uk , sumi development is incredible . They say that there is a fine line between genius and insanity , well this breeder takes that to a new level ! The afternoon was spent selecting nisai , and he is as crazier as ever , but his koi just get better and better . He is also very easy to deal with , what do you want , what do you want to pay ? Right lets get some bowls then , great no nonsence approach . Soon had around 45 koi in bowls , from nice quality go sanke and non go sanke , right through to some larger and better quality go sanke . From this I selected 28 up to around 45cm and all nisai . Some interesting koi including ki utsuri and gin rin ki utsuri , so not bad for half a days work
Back at home now , and thinking back over the week , and what a week it has been ! I think this trip has flown past quicker than ive ever known , seemed only a few days i was packing and leaving for Japan , let alone packing to go home ! For those who follow the blog will probably realise there has been a change in direction for us whilst buying in Japan . I think the days of running around trying to visit every beeder we have ever met are gone . Better to spend more time with less breeders and really build on the relationships that we already have , and are already we are seeing the benefits of this . We have about a dozen beeders we work close with , and we always seem to find more koi than we need , this time we broke all records , and went 65 percent over budget . ( What the hell , targarts are supposed to b broken lol ) Id like t think that it wasnt me being carried away , but the right koi and the right prices and buying more koi from less breeders .Highlights of the week ? Far too many to mention , the days of having a bad day are long gone lol , afternoon at Hosakai buying koi of all levels , hand selecting tosai at Shinoda , Tanaka and Kaneko , visit to Sakai , Hirasawa and Maruhiro buying all the koi we did there all good visits . Once again we have purchased koi at all levels , some people have mentioned that we are still buying alot of small nisai , yes we are , as thats the business thst got as where we are . We do mean to buy higher standard of koi , but wont turn our back on the cutomers which he have supported us though the years . Thats why we like breeders such as Hosakai and Maruhiro , nisai from 30 to almost 60cm , its a one stop shop for the want of a better expresson . So once again another very good trip , cant wait untill th next trip in April. Thanks fr reading and see you all soon ..................Gay