I have always been one to grab learning opportunities with both hands but in Japan they rarely present themselves. The secretive nature of many of the breeders means it takes years to build up a relationship with enough trust that they will open up. Just a few days ago however I visited Minuma Koi Farm for the very first time and the Wada brothers left a serious impression on me.
Minuma is operated by two brothers Kenichi and Riki Wada and they are heavy weights in the world of Goshiki production. Having never visited before I was keen to see with my own eyes just what the place was all about. The hype around this farm does not come without reason, they are serial winners at major shows in Japan and the Goshiki bloodline that have created is held in very high esteem by the majority of breeders. I was keen to see if it was more than just floating beni that made them so desirable.
The Raw Ingredients
Shortly after arriving I was greeted by Kenichi San and after going through the formal introductions it was straight onto some Koi. The pond of nisai that I was shown too had just been harvested from his mud ponds in Niigata and except for one or two fish they were all Goshiki and Ginrin Goshiki. In my opinion to the untrained eye the quality of what I was looking at would not be completely obvious or particularly attractive. There are other Goshiki breeders who’s fish have a far more appealing style at a younger age but more often than not with Koi that have good future potential, at nisai it’s all about the raw ingredients.
With four fish selected and in the bowl there were some very strong traits jumping out at me. First of all I knew that Minuma Goshiki could grow and having seen some of the 70cm+ yonsai swimming around I knew it wasn’t just a fallacy. The nisai selection I was looking at had all the right characteristics, most noticeably in the bone structures. The heads were all big and in particular the mouths were huge. This was combined with good body length with strength at the peduncle and backbone. When younger koi don’t have a lot of volume these characteristics are important along with good even weight distribution.
Intense floating beni and Kuro style Goshiki are two things that come straight to mind when thinking of the Minuma bloodline. In truth over the years I have also seen some truly unique styles of Goshiki from them winning top awards at the All Japan Show as well as probably the best Ginrin Goshiki available. The raw potential and quality of the beni exhibited by the nisai is plain to see but it’s going to need time and conditioning for the true intensity to become visible. As for the background colour that makes the kuro style so special Wada San was clear that it is very changeable depending on whether the Koi has been raised in a mud pond or concrete pond. At this moment the background was very light having just been harvested from the mud pond but he showed me multiple examples from his records where a vast change had happened in a matter of months after harvesting.
Transaction completed and four superb nisai purchased my client took two of the fish and I took the male nisai Goshiki and female nisai Ginrin Goshiki. All will stay at the farm until autumn 2020. Moving outside the small nisai house Wada San was keen to show me some sansai that had also just been harvested and I was genuinely taken back by the increase in size and body. The nisai average around 40-45cm but these sansai were easily in the realms of 60cm+. On from here the tour continued and he showed countless examples of sansai which were consistent in size and body. Wada San also went onto explain how the males and females form his lineage pretty much develop with the same body and again supported it with several examples.
The parent fish pond was quite a spectacle especially the the Showa and Ginrin Showa females that I witnessed, they are the only other varieties that he produces alongside Goshiki. It was clear to see how proud he was of these fish some of which were very big for the age, prime candidates for producing offspring with jumbo capabilities. The tosai were just as interesting to see and what I loved was that each batch of offspring was separated according to the parent set that they came from and the farm was currently using 8 different sets for Goshiki. I consider this to be something very important for any serious bloodline because although there are consistent traits there will also be individual variances between different parent sets.
Just before leaving I was invited into the office for coffee and was handed certificates for the fish that had been purchased. Having seen how much attention Wada San pays to his stocks and in his own words how much “data” he keeps I asked if it would be possible to get pictures of the parent sets to the fish we purchased. Within five minutes his brother Riki had produced an A4 sheet with three images that the four purchases came from, remarkable! I then went one further and asked if they happened to have pictures of each fish as tosai to which he replied “sorry I only have them together with other fish in bowls of 5” it was a hell of a way to end a fantastic day.
A Top Experience
As far as first visits go this one was definitely in my top 3 and I can’t wait to return again. The fish left at the farm as azukari will be a great start into fully understanding how fish from the bloodline develop. The male is of particular interest to me because it’s a completely different style from a different parent set. Having been shown some of its siblings which are much older I can’t wait to see what the future holds. Fingers crossed for some great results.