Reflecting back on a previous blog and my first Autumn harvest trip in 2005 led me to think a little more about my experience of purchasing ‘Three’, a Yagenji Nisai Kohaku.
That one special fish
At just 15 years old, for the trip i’d set myself a budget to purchase one special fish. Having met a number of breeders I decided to go with the one that had impressed me most – Yagenji Koi Farm, based in Yamakoshi, in the foothills of Niigata.
It was late in the season and they had a small pond, separate to their main fish house. From first glance I could instantly tell that all the koi were excellent. However, the quality of this particular female Kohaku, its body shape and the shimmer of its white skin was just phenomenal. In my eyes it was head and shoulders above the others.
Upon agreeing a price I took the decision to leave the fish in ‘Azukari’. This meant that Yagenji Koi Farm would care for the fish in their mud pond for one year. She would then be shipped to me the following year (as a side note, keep an eye on my future blogs for more on this topic).
My return visit
Autumn 2006 came round and I couldn’t wait to make my return trip: to be immersed in my second harvest and see my fish. I’d experienced getting involved in a small part of the harvest with Fujio Oomo in 2005, but in reality that was slightly later in the season. It had been a smaller, less important harvest than I would experience this time around.
On the day of the harvest the weather was kind to us with a bright, sunny start to the morning. Setting off with the Yagenji brothers and another member of their team in a 4×4, travelling along gravel tracks towards their mud ponds, located in the stunning mountains of Yamakoshi.
The valleys in the area are packed full of mud ponds and it really is a magnificent sight! As the gravel track wound down into the mountains we finally reached the breeders pond, full of sansai. We climbed out of the truck and pulled on our waders, ready to crack on with the task in hand.
Walking into the mud pond, we prepared to pull the net for the Ikeage. Filled with anticipation, I couldn’t wait to see how my fish had grown! Using the traditional method we lifted all the fish one-by-one into a dinghy to harvest them. They were all of outstanding quality, but it was almost as if I had tunnel vision waiting to see my fish. As I pulled out the next one I could instantly tell it was mine. It had grown phenomenally, up to the mid 50cm range – the smile on my face was from ear to ear!
After completing the netting this was also my first chance to experience the second part of the harvest. The initial inspection of the fish as they are lifted into a tank on the back of the truck – traditionally this special task is reserved for only the breeder to complete. We transported all of the sansai back to the fish house and a few weeks later mine was shipped to the UK, ready for work to begin, settling the fish and its four week quarantine at our premises.
Naming the koi
Following quarantine the Kohaku was sold through my dad’s retail shop. It was purchased by Barry Thompson (‘Baz’ to those of you that know him), a renound hobbyist within the UK koi community and now the proprietor of Methley Koi. Upon seeing the fish you could tell that he was thrilled with it. As soon as he set eyes on it he spotted the markings which led to him naming it ‘Three’.