Ikeage Memories

I sit writing this post a day before i am due to board yet another flight to Japan. It’s harvest season and i am excited to once again stick on a pair of waders and get into the thick of the action.

Whilst pondering over what’s to come during this trip my mind drifted back to my first autumn harvest trip. After a quick browse through my photo archives i discovered that trip was in 2005 and it was during that visit that i got to experience my first Ikeage. Being a part of a harvest had been a dream of mine since watching part 3 of the Yamakoshi trilogy series back when i was 11 years old, the excitement and anticipation of seeing what amazing koi were lifted from the murky waters was something i just had to experience first hand.

This particular harvest had been saved for me by my good friend Fujio Oomo as it was into early November which is typically quite late for breeders in Niigata to be harvesting. So i knew that i couldn’t expect the picturesque harvest of some 80cm show stoppers but i was excited non the less. Having watched the video over and over again the whole process of netting the pond looked fairly straight forward but as i was soon to discover it was actually much harder than it looked. My most vivd memory of the huge seine net was the sheer weight of it and only being 15 years old at the time it seemed like a colossal task pulling it all the way around the pond.

Once the net had been pulled around the ponds perimeter the anticipation really started to build and in a matter of no time, fish after fish began to appear out out of the murky water and carried to the truck. As i stood waiting for a bag to be passed to me with yet another koi i was constantly distracted by the other fish breaking the water, keen to see what gems were still hiding in there.

It wasn’t long before all of the koi were in the truck, equipment packed away and we were on our way back to the facility. Once back at the koi house you really get the opportunity to get a close look at everything as each koi is lifted into crystal clear water, checked, sexed and then finally graded. The whole experience really was quite extraordinary and addictive, now some 13 years on the buzz and excitement is even more than it was all those years ago and i am sure it will be exactly the years to come.

Written by Ricky Stoddart

I am a koi fanatic and currently the managing director of Koi Wholesale Limited. I have been actively involved in the koi industry since 2001 and have been visiting Japan since 2002. Having gained a lot of experience, I've also been lucky enough to be able to learn from some of Japan's top breeders. As a result, I like to share my knowledge to help koi keepers and dealers get a better understanding of Nishikigoi.

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