The previous trips to Japan to select koi have been exciting, but this year … this year I got a slight idea of what the gold-digger felt at the time of the gold rush. And Thierry … Thierry for the first time in 10 years of Koi Hacienda has really lived the word “koi hunting”.
Many people think it is a simple trip to Japan and go from breeder to breeder and choose what we like.
It is not. It’s like going hunting. You never know what you’ll find. Our plans – our shopping list – is purely indicative.
Let me give an example: in 2014 we had the opportunity to select tancho tosai with Torazo (which is most famous for its tancho). In 2015 they were sold out and we came back without anyone. This year, there were some tancho left … but only a few … and we will have them.
Another example: traditional breeders as Chogoro … all our purachina come from Chogoro who continuously gets the big prizes of this variety. This year we arrived and he informed us that he had sold the whole lot of purachina in November last year. A Chinese wholesaler … the WHOLE LOT. We were extremely lucky and thanks to the friendly relationship we have with him (see pictures) he left us 50 purachina of his special lot.
So the word “hunting” is very appropriate … you know that you’re going to an area where there are plenty of animals that you want to have, but until you don’t have them really in your hands, you do not know what you are going to get.
We started our “koi hunting” with the breeder Toshio Sakai. We went out with jumbo nisai (= 2 years koi) kohaku and sanke WITH CERTIFICATES of the breeder.
There are some koi that perhaps can not win a prize, but they are special. My attention was caught by “Marilyn” … as Marilyn Monroe … the super American diva. I’ll tell you … I will write a blog about all the special koi we found.
The next day we went to choose the tosai (= 1 year koi). I leave the link to see the video (preparing the pond in the traditional way to select the tosai, takes about 7 minutes):
Although we have seen precious nisai with Torazo, we limited ourselves just to buy the maximum number of tancho maximum as last year we could not get any. We accepted the few tancho he offered us and complemented them with kohaku.
A pleasant surprise was breeder Otsuka. Not particularly famous but with good koi at good prices. Because of their size (10 to 12 cm) 120 Tosai fit in a box so we can offer many varieties at an affordable price.
What a joy to find again the same quality of koi with Hiroi. Last year we bought tosai gosanke and ginrin gosanke and they grew extraordinary. They will arrive quite big (15 to 18 cm), which means that not many will fit in a box … so … “first come – first serve”.
The most funny hunting – for me – was with Chogoro. This day we have had a terrible weather – a mix of snow and rain combined with wind pushing this humidity into your body which will not vanish all day. He took us to his “secret place” where he keeps his high quality koi. He showed some goshiki which left us with our mouth open.
Unfortunately we could not buy them, because in Spain there is still no market to pay thousands of euros for a 2 year koi. Especially a goshiki which would change its appearance over the next few years.
We went to another greenhouse and we started the selection of tosai. Hours …. And hours have been there on our knees trying to pick the best koi of about 3,000. Unlike the others, Chogoro did not let them see one by one, selecting as Cinderella … they were all in one big net. When I saw a nice one – whoosh – gone again … Kujaku, goshiki, Hariwake, sakura ogon, Kin Matsuba, ginga daya …
We laughed a lot as we had chosen some koi where Chogoro – with a big smile – said those were not good (when they really were great). And we had to pay attention since occasionally he tried to take them away.
Then we could not resist buying some nisai both goshiki and purachina:
To cut a long article a little bit down, I do not enunciate to the many breeders we have visited and we left without buying anything.
In 2015 we did not visit him, but in 2014 we bought some koi and we already liked this breeder: Yagenji. Definitely one of the most organised and hygienic koi farms (not counting large ones as eg Dainichi). As we were missing Showa, we got there a mix with lots of wonderful Showa and the rest other varieties.
With Marudo we “fished” some 2 years chagoi, karashigoi, soragoi and yamabuki:
We will also have tosai of Marudo: 30 sanke, 20 matsuba gin, 20 asagi and … a few units of a very seldom variety … I will write in another blog.
And … finally … Hirasawa. Mr. Hirasawa is already about 70 years old, but he can not live without his koi. The koi are his life. Hirasawa family has large greenhouses in the mountains managed by his children, but he stays with the two greenhouses that are connected to his home.
We knew that here we would take hours and we were really there from 14h30 to 18h30 !!! With Hirasawa we bought nisai, sansai (= 3 years koi) and exceptionally tosai.
Here only photos of Hirasawa and nisai … I want to keep some secrets and some suspense ?
To finish this post with good news: Some of you have followed us on Facebook and have seen the picture of “SOLD OUT” when we visited Dainichi. This sign was referring to the category of Dainichi Showa we brought last year.
We did not want to disappoint our customers and have made the big effort to bring again Showa from Dainichi of an even higher category.