One of my favourite farms in Niigata is Koi No Kansuke, a specialist Kohaku breeder who dabbles with a few Showa and Ginrin Showa. Kansuke San now aged 69 is a very humble guy who still works alone and produces some truly fantastic koi all from SFF bloodlines. Over the past few years I have spent more and more time here and bought several koi to leave at the farm to better understand his bloodline. I really cannot speak highly enough of this place.
A Nice Surprise at Kansuke
During a trip in 2016, I visited Kansuke several times and during my very last visit a relatively small nisai Ginrin Showa caught my eye. This fish had not been there on any of my previous visits and to my amazement it was still actually for sale. Straight away I asked to see it in the bowl and within 5 minutes the koi was purchased, I then arranged for it to be kept at the farm as azukari for 1 year. It was my intention to keep this koi aside for a year or two because I felt it was a way off being ready to offer for sale as it still had to improve a lot, but once further developed it would be strong for the koi shows in Japan.
Seeing the Potential
As you can see from the video above the 42cm nisai didn’t look too spectacular, the bold sumi was attractive, but at this point I was sure people wouldn’t be queuing up to buy it, especially given the price tag. So when one of my clients contacted me as he had somebody looking for a very good Ginrin Showa, I was initially reluctant to introduce this koi. Although I was confident in what the koi would do in future and given that it would be raised at the farm I had no issue with the koi becoming what I had envisaged the problem would be getting the potential buyer to believe in the koi right now.
Koi appreciation is very difficult as everybody sees things differently. Looking for young koi that have the potential is even more difficult as the criteria used to evaluate such fish is totally different. You really have to learn to not be over critical and not judge the fish as if it were a finished, mature example. True quality takes time to develop and likewise some of the best patterns need time, as the size of the body massively influences how the pattern looks. You may have heard people say “that’s a big fish pattern” well never underestimate how true that can be.
The Ginrin Showa Qualities
With this Ginrin Showa I saw several things that would happen in future and the change in the pattern being one of them. Everything looked very compact when I bought the fish but what else could be expected given that it was 18 months old and 42cm. There was also a lot of sumi development that would still need to happen and as can be the case the sumi was already developed where it fell on the beni but the areas of tsubo sumi would take much longer as it sits within the skin differently. The body was one of the other major areas where I felt a significant difference would be made after the first year in the mud pond. As nisai you can see the head was large but the rest of the body looked small and slim, this is not a bad thing as I don’t like to see too much volume in young koi and providing that the bone structure looks good then the body volume will come.
So back the the enquiry from my client, in the end I decided to offer the koi and see what the reaction was and sure enough initially it was a little underwhelming. In the end I asked to speak to the customer directly and explained my vision for the koi and he decided to put his trust in me and proceed with the purchase. Over the years I have put my neck on the line a lot by strongly recommending koi and people purchasing them based on their trust in me alone.
The Azukari Result
I visited Kansuke the following autumn to check on the four azukari fish that are there. It didn’t take long to see the Ginrin Showa swimming amongst the pond of Kohaku and I just looked at Kansuke san who gave me a big thumbs up. As you can see below already after just one season in the mud pond the koi had altered drastically and it has become even easier to see where it is heading in future. The condition is just what I had expected from Kansuke and the customer who owns the koi was of course over the moon with the result. My advice to the customer was to leave this at the farm for one more year because the mud pond will allow the body to develop much better than being in a concrete pond.
There isn’t really a moral to this story, more a lesson that if you are looking to select koi that have real quality and potential for the future you have to learn to look at them in a different way. I’m sure most people would have passed this koi off as being average after seeing the picture (admittedly a very poor one) when it was nisai but then I am also sure that most people who look at the current picture of it at sansai will say “Wow!”. For me I was pleased that a client had put their trust in me again and it had paid off, but I was also a little but gutted that the koi was no longer mine – especially as Ginrin Showa are one of my favourite varieties.