Goshiki, a five coloured fish, created in the early 1900s have developed tremendously in recent years to the point where some consider them the 4th Gosanke, in place of Shiro Utsuri.

In this article we’ll look at the history of the variety, some of the most prominent breeders and the huge array of different styles that exist.

History

According to Dr. Takeo Kuroki’s book ‘Modern Nishikigoi’ Goshiki were produced by crossing Asagi with Aka Sanke or Aka Bekko in 1918. According to Shuji Fujita’s ‘Nishikigoi Mondo’ a primitive Goshiki existed from the mutation of Narumi Asagi and were known as Goshiki Asagi.

Masayuki Amano’s 1968 ‘General Survey of Fancy Carp’ gives almost no mention to Goshiki, indeed the only references appear in reproductions of Masamoto Kataoka’s gene trees.  The first shows Goshiki Asagi being produced from Narumi Asagi and Aka Bekko, to then be bred with Kohaku to produce Koromo. The other shows Goshiki coming from Narumi Asagi.

Part of Masamoto Kataoka's gene trees showing Goshiki

Part of Masamoto Kataoka’s gene trees showing Goshiki

Part of Masamoto Kataoka's gene trees showing Goshiki

Part of Masamoto Kataoka’s gene trees showing Goshiki

Hiroi Koi farm in Ojiya, Niigata, are undoubtedly one of the leading breeders of Goshiki.  Interestingly in an interview in ‘Koishi’ Kuniyasu Hiroi, who started breeding in 1958, states that his grandfather, a Goshiki breeder,  shared his vision for Goshiki with him just prior to passing away.  He wanted to produce an Asagi with hi markings on its back.

In the second edition of ‘Modern Nishikigoi’, published in 1987, Kuroki states; ‘Goshiki look beautiful when the water temperature is warm.  Cool water temperatures deepen the Koi’s colours, and so under these conditions they can be mistaken for Magoi.  Today some breeders are trying to develop new types of Goshiki with clear Asagi patterns.’ This description is reminiscent of many Goshiki that could be seen in the UK around the late 80’s and early 90’s.


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Example of Goshiki from Kuroki's 'Modern Nishikigoi'

Example of Goshiki from Kuroki’s ‘Modern Nishikigoi’

Example of Goshiki from the 1986 book ‘An Interpet Guide to Koi’ by Barry James

Example of Goshiki from the 1986 book ‘An Interpet Guide to Koi’ by Barry James

The ‘Unique Koi’ section of ‘Modern Nishikigoi’ provides some suggestion of the interest that was stirring around Goshiki production at the time.  Whilst still considered as Kawarigoi at that time, only one reference to Goshiki, and one picture, appears in the main section of the book.  The ‘Unique Koi’ section however contains no less than 22 examples labeled as variants of Goshiki, and several others that would now be termed Goshiki.  Interestingly he also makes use of the terms ‘New Goshiki’ and ‘Modern Goshiki’.

New Goshiki from Modern Nishikigoi

New Goshiki from Modern Nishikigoi

Kindai Goshiki from Modern Nishikigoi

Kindai Goshiki from Modern Nishikigoi

What is very apparent is that these Goshiki were a very long way from the quality Goshiki we see today.

One of the reasons that we’ve seen such development and improvement in Goshiki is undoubtedly the varieties’ promotion from Kawarigoi to a class of their own by both the Shinkokai and ZNA during the 1990s.

Coupled with that, the fact that there is such variance within the variety in terms of style, as we’ll cover later, this clearly gives breeders the opportunity to make their own mark on it and potentially create what becomes considered the definitive Goshiki.

Such is the rise to prominence in Goshiki, several years ago whilst talking to a number of young breeders they stated that they considered Goshiki had overtaken Shiro Utsuri as the number 4 variety behind the big 3 Gosanke.

Already at All Japan level we’ve seen Goshiki take Kokugyo awards and without question the variety truly dominates the Sakura award class.  At the 2013 All Japan Koi show 7 of the 17 Sakura awards, given to the best non-Gosanke in each size class, were taken by Goshiki, 3 more Sakura winners were Ginrin Goshiki.


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I suggest it won’t be that long until we see Goshiki featuring amongst Grand Champions at local shows and young Koi shows in Japan.

Appreciation

When a variety has so many different styles, and often the most desirable or acclaimed examples being unique, it’s quite difficult to write about appreciation.  Some people get hung up about the lack of ‘5 colours’ as described by the original definition.

At the heart of almost every good Goshiki nowadays is a Kohaku pattern.  The attributes that make a desirable Kohaku pattern remain true with Goshiki.  However the ‘Goshiki’ pattern plays such an important role in completing the package.

Perhaps the easiest way to progress this is to look at some examples of high quality Goshiki and discuss their relative merits which we’ll do later in the article.

Breeders

As mentioned an ever increasing number of breeders are trying to produce Goshiki, the breeders listed below are ones for whom Goshiki is a specialist variety.

Niigata  – 


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Aichi – 

  • Kondo Koi Farm

Saitama –

  • Minuma Koi Farm

Mameshibori Goshiki

The Goshiki below is one that, it’s fair to say, created a huge amount of excitement in the variety.

Mameshibori Goshiki bred by Hiroi Koi Farm. Best in Variety at the 2010 All Japan Show.

Mameshibori Goshiki bred by Hiroi Koi Farm. Best in Variety at the 2010 All Japan Show.

Mameshibori Goshiki bred by Hiroi Koi Farm. Best in Variety at the 2010 All Japan Show.

Mameshibori Goshiki bred by Hiroi Koi Farm. Best in Variety at the 2010 All Japan Show.

‘Mameshibori’ refers to the black scalation pattern style on the Koi.  The term ‘Mameshibori’ is also used in relation to very old style Goshiki, this example is completely different.

Mameshibori is the name given to the spotted fabric often seen being worn by sushi chefs in restaurants (pic below).

A sushi chef wearing a mameshibori headband

A sushi chef wearing a mameshibori headband

This particular Koi first appeared on the show scene 2010 at the All Japan Combined Nishikigoi Show where it took the Best in Variety prize. (left picture above)


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The Koi was bred by Hiroi Koi Farm and they suggest this is perhaps the ultimate ‘style’ for Goshiki for them.

At the 2010 All Japan Show the Koi was purchased by Futoshi Mano of Dainichi Koi Farm.

In November 2011 Dainichi offered the Koi, then 6 years old and 75cm, for auction at the 1st Dainichi Auction where it was the most expensive lot of the day, demand was high from several famous Goshiki breeders interested in acquiring her.  In 2013 the Koi actually returned to Hiroi as a parent.

 The Mameshibori Goshiki (top) with 2 males at Hiroi Koi Farm, May 2013

The Mameshibori Goshiki (top) with 2 males at Hiroi Koi Farm, May 2013

It’s interesting to note that the sumi on this particular Goshiki seems quite volatile.

Comparing the 2 pictures above, the left from February 2010 and right from November 2011, the nose sumi spot has completely gone yet the sumi spot on the shoulder has become stronger.

If we look at the parent set picture of the Koi above we can see that the sumi has got incredibly strong, indeed in places the pattern is barely recognisable.


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This Goshiki featured a great beni pattern which was immaculately blemish free. The mameshibori pattern very defined and even over the whole body, coupled with a great body shape.

Kindai Goshiki

Kindai, or modern, Goshiki feature areas of clean white skin whilst having Kohaku style beni markings and black or grey Goshiki ‘robing’.  It is this subset that perhaps gives us the most unique Goshiki, Koi such as the 4 pictured below, all of which have won at All Japan level.

Bred by Maruju Koi Farm this is a very famous Goshiki which has won the Best in Variety award at the All Japan Show several times, most recently 2013 when it was also 85bu Sakura, and overall Sakura, Champion. The sumi pattern has receded considerably. This Koi is now a parent at Kanno Koi Farm.

Bred by Maruju Koi Farm this is a very famous Goshiki which has won the Best in Variety award at the All Japan Show several times, most recently 2013 when it was also 85bu Sakura, and overall Sakura, Champion.
The sumi pattern has receded considerably.
This Koi is now a parent at Kanno Koi Farm.

At the 2010 All Japan Wakagoi Show, this Goshiki from Kondo Koi Farm won Best in Variety and the 58bu Sakura prize. The clean beni pattern, the sumi border to the head pattern, the white dorsal area with the subtle mameshibori type pattern, the white fins and tail, all combine to make a stunning example of Kindai Goshiki.

At the 2010 All Japan Wakagoi Show, this Goshiki from Kondo Koi Farm won Best in Variety and the 58bu Sakura prize.
The clean beni pattern, the sumi border to the head pattern, the white dorsal area with the subtle mameshibori type pattern, the white fins and tail, all combine to make a stunning example of Kindai Goshiki.

When I first saw this 60bu Goshiki out of the corner of my eye at the 2013 All Japan Show I questioned for a split second, Goshiki or Showa. Coming from Minuma Koi Farm it is certainly Goshiki and took the Sakura prize. Again we see an interesting head pattern and lovely clean beni markings which interact with the sumi and shiroji perfectly.

When I first saw this 60bu Goshiki out of the corner of my eye at the 2013 All Japan Show I questioned for a split second, Goshiki or Showa. Coming from Minuma Koi Farm it is certainly Goshiki and took the Sakura prize.
Again we see an interesting head pattern and lovely clean beni markings which interact with the sumi and shiroji perfectly.

This 55bu Goshiki, bred by Minuma Koi Farm, took the Kokugyo prize at the 2011 All Japan Show. It is a truly unique Koi. To have won Kokugyo it has beaten a large number of Gosanke in the eyes of the judges. As amazing as the Koi looked in January 2011, in 2012 it looked like a Kohaku!

This 55bu Goshiki, bred by Minuma Koi Farm, took the Kokugyo prize at the 2011 All Japan Show. It is a truly unique Koi.
To have won Kokugyo it has beaten a large number of Gosanke in the eyes of the judges.
As amazing as the Koi looked in January 2011, in 2012 it looked like a Kohaku!

Kuro Goshiki

Kuro Goshiki feature a black background with beni pattern on top and can be incredibly imposing Koi.  As can be seen from the examples below the sumi can vary from being solid jet black to having an element of vignette to it.  As we can also see from the examples below, the beni can also feature sumi markings in different styles.

This Goshiki took the 65bu Sakura award at 2013 All Japan Koi Show. It was bred by Takigawa Koi Farm. An incredibly imposing Goshiki, the contrast between the immaculately clean and interesting beni pattern and the sumi background is amazing. The white tips of the fins and nose finish it perfectly.

This Goshiki took the 65bu Sakura award at 2013 All Japan Koi Show. It was bred by Takigawa Koi Farm.
An incredibly imposing Goshiki, the contrast between the immaculately clean and interesting beni pattern and the sumi background is amazing. The white tips of the fins and nose finish it perfectly.

This Goshiki, bred by Oyama Fish Farm, was awarded the 80cm Sakura prize at the 2013 All Japan Koi Show. At first glance the head pattern makes a very loud statement. The sumi on the beni pattern is not as refined as the example on the right, however it’s a big Goshiki which still has a youthful aura.

This Goshiki, bred by Oyama Fish Farm, was awarded the 80cm Sakura prize at the 2013 All Japan Koi Show.
At first glance the head pattern makes a very loud statement. The sumi on the beni pattern is not as refined as the example on the right, however it’s a big Goshiki which still has a youthful aura.

Goshiki, photographed in March 2009 on the left when it took 53bu Sakura award at the All Japan Wakagoi Show

Goshiki, photographed in March 2009 on the left when it took 53bu Sakura award at the All Japan Wakagoi Show.

The same Koi in February 2010 when it took 65bu Sakura award at the All Japan Koi Show. Note the significant change in head pattern in the space of 11 months, in the complete reverse of what people may expect, it would be normal with varieties like Showa and Utsuri for the sumi to have come up, not disappear as it’s done in this case. A very striking example with fine and neat sumi scale edging on the beni markings.

The same Koi in February 2010 when it took 65bu Sakura award at the All Japan Koi Show. Note the significant change in head pattern in the space of 11 months, in the complete reverse of what people may expect, it would be normal with varieties like Showa and Utsuri for the sumi to have come up, not disappear as it’s done in this case. A very striking example with fine and neat sumi scale edging on the beni markings.

Nezu Goshiki

The Nezu Goshiki feature a grey (nezu) background with beni markings on it.  The exact style of the nezu background can vary from being Asagi like, to being a more even colouration.  This style of Goshiki almost has a ‘sheen’, a metallic luster, to the grey background.

This Goshiki, bred by Kanno Koi Farm, was best in size 45bu at the 2012 Niigata Nogyosai Show, beating all Gosanke in the same size class. Interesting and clean beni pattern is set off against the grey background which has a subtle dark edging to each scale.

This Goshiki, bred by Kanno Koi Farm, was best in size 45bu at the 2012 Niigata Nogyosai Show, beating all Gosanke in the same size class.
Interesting and clean beni pattern is set off against the grey background which has a subtle dark edging to each scale.

Another Kanno Goshiki from the 2012 Niigata Nogyosai, this one best in size 40bu, again beating all Gosanke, and other varieties, in that size class. Again the red pattern is unblemished and set against a grey background which is not quite as defined as the one on the left.

Another Kanno Goshiki from the 2012 Niigata Nogyosai, this one best in size 40bu, again beating all Gosanke, and other varieties, in that size class.
Again the red pattern is unblemished and set against a grey background which is not quite as defined as the one on the left.

This Kanno Goshiki was photographed at the 2009 Niigata Nogyosai where is was awarded best in 65bu. The grey background is rather more subtle than that of the 2 to the left. As with all these examples the beni pattern is perfectly clean with no blemishes.

This Kanno Goshiki was photographed at the 2009 Niigata Nogyosai where is was awarded best in 65bu.
The grey background is rather more subtle than that of the 2 to the left.
As with all these examples the beni pattern is perfectly clean with no blemishes.

The Nezu Goshiki really is Kanno’s style. This last example was photographed at the 2013 All Japan Koi Show. Of the examples here it has the most vivid of background patterns, and again a very clean and balanced red pattern. Stunning Koi, it wasn’t a major prize winner.

The Nezu Goshiki really is Kanno’s style. This last example was photographed at the 2013 All Japan Koi Show.
Of the examples here it has the most vivid of background patterns, and again a very clean and balanced red pattern.
Stunning Koi, it wasn’t a major prize winner.

Ginrin Goshiki

Goshiki of all styles are also groduced with ginrin scalation.  They can make for incredibly striking Koi as can be seen below.

This Hiroi Ginrin Goshiki won the 50bu Sakura prize at the 2013 All Japan Koi Show. The background base colour is grey, as in the Nezu Goshiki pictured previously, and shows off the ginrin scalation extremely well. The simple stepped red pattern exhibits a neat faint black pattern without speckles.

This Hiroi Ginrin Goshiki won the 50bu Sakura prize at the 2013 All Japan Koi Show.
The background base colour is grey, as in the Nezu Goshiki pictured previously, and shows off the ginrin scalation extremely well.
The simple stepped red pattern exhibits a neat faint black pattern without speckles.

This 80bu Minuma Goshiki was awarded Best in Variety Ginrin B at the 2013 All Japan Koi Show. The grey Nezu Goshiki base is much lighter than the previous example, the ginrin scalation is also much less prominent. The black marks on the head spoil it a little.

This 80bu Minuma Goshiki was awarded Best in Variety Ginrin B at the 2013 All Japan Koi Show.
The grey Nezu Goshiki base is much lighter than the previous example, the ginrin scalation is also much less prominent.
The black marks on the head spoil it a little.

This 40bu Goshiki, again bred by Minuma, was the Sakura prize winner at the 2013 All Japan Koi Show. The black Kuro Goshiki background shows off the ginrin scalation superbly and the interesting red pattern is blemish free. A very striking little Goshiki.

This 40bu Goshiki, again bred by Minuma, was the Sakura prize winner at the 2013 All Japan Koi Show.
The black Kuro Goshiki background shows off the ginrin scalation superbly and the interesting red pattern is blemish free.
A very striking little Goshiki.

This 63bu Ginrin Goshiki was Best in Variety Ginrin B at the 2010 All Japan Wakagoi Show, the breeder is not known. This Koi has elements of several styles, the head has the kind of markings we see on the kindai and kuro examples previously. The scales have black patterning but it is not as solid as the examples of Kuro Goshiki.

This 63bu Ginrin Goshiki was Best in Variety Ginrin B at the 2010 All Japan Wakagoi Show, the breeder is not known.
This Koi has elements of several styles, the head has the kind of markings we see on the kindai and kuro examples previously. The scales have black patterning but it is not as solid as the examples of Kuro Goshiki.

Doitsu Goshiki and Tancho Goshiki

Doitsu and Tancho variants are also produced, the latter being much more frequently seen than Doitsu Goshiki which are produced by just a few breeders. Tancho Goshiki come in all the different styles featured above, Kindai, Kuro and Nezu, as well as Ginrin.


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This Doitsu Goshiki was photographed at the 2009 Nagaoka Koi Show, the breeder is unknown. A very unique style of Koi not seen very often. It displays characteristics of a Kindai Goshiki but with Doitsu scales.

This Doitsu Goshiki was photographed at the 2009 Nagaoka Koi Show, the breeder is unknown.
A very unique style of Koi not seen very often. It displays characteristics of a Kindai Goshiki but with Doitsu scales.

This example of Doitsu Goshiki, with a grey background colour, was photographed at the 2012 Niigata Nogyosai Show, again the breeder is unknown. Whilst an unusual Koi to see, it kind of lacks refinement, the grey background is uneven and there are black speckles on both the grey and red.

This example of Doitsu Goshiki, with a grey background colour, was photographed at the 2012 Niigata Nogyosai Show, again the breeder is unknown.
Whilst an unusual Koi to see, it kind of lacks refinement, the grey background is uneven and there are black speckles on both the grey and red.

This Kuro Tancho Goshiki was awarded Best in Variety Tancho at the 2010 All Japan Wakagoi Show. The jet black body and head and the red Tancho marking make for a very striking Koi, however, the Tancho marking itself is not great in terms of both its shape and placement.

This Kuro Tancho Goshiki was awarded Best in Variety Tancho at the 2010 All Japan Wakagoi Show.
The jet black body and head and the red Tancho marking make for a very striking Koi, however, the Tancho marking itself is not great in terms of both its shape and placement.

This example of a Kindai Tancho Goshiki was bred by Otsuka Koi Farm and sold at the spring 2011 Niigata Breeders Auction. As we’ve seen with previous examples there is lots of likelihood the pattern would change over time, but as it stands an interesting and unique example.

This example of a Kindai Tancho Goshiki was bred by Otsuka Koi Farm and sold at the spring 2011 Niigata Breeders Auction.
As we’ve seen with previous examples there is lots of likelihood the pattern would change over time, but as it stands an interesting and unique example.

Some unusual Goshiki variants

Goshiki are crossed with a number of other varieties by breeders seeking something a little unusual, or in a bid to create new varieties. Here are some examples.

This Koi was photographed at the 2009 Nagaoka Koi Show, the breeder is not known. It probably has just about enough defined ‘blocks’ of sumi on the body to classify as a Goshiki Tancho Sanke. I would suggest that it is a Koi that would change dramatically over time.

This Koi was photographed at the 2009 Nagaoka Koi Show, the breeder is not known.
It probably has just about enough defined ‘blocks’ of sumi on the body to classify as a Goshiki Tancho Sanke.
I would suggest that it is a Koi that would change dramatically over time.

This is an example of Goshiki Showa bred by Otsuka Koi Farm, one of the few places that specifically breeds this variety. The white areas of the body exhibit grey Nezu Goshiki markings whilst also displaying the characteristics of a normal Showa. Goshiki Sanke are also produced.

This is an example of Goshiki Showa bred by Otsuka Koi Farm, one of the few places that specifically breeds this variety.
The white areas of the body exhibit grey Nezu Goshiki markings whilst also displaying the characteristics of a normal Showa.
Goshiki Sanke are also produced.

This unique Koi, bred by AO Aokiya (Aoki), a specialist Goshiki breeder, is the result of a cross between a Goshiki and a Ginga. This Koi won first prize in the 30bu Kawarigoi class at the 2010 All Japan Koi Show.

This unique Koi, bred by AO Aokiya (Aoki), a specialist Goshiki breeder, is the result of a cross between a Goshiki and a Ginga.
This Koi won first prize in the 30bu Kawarigoi class at the 2010 All Japan Koi Show.

This is another unique Koi created by Aoki, a cross between Goshiki and Kujaku, photographed in 2010. Interestingly it displays all the characteristics of Kujaku but the orange pattern is free of scale pattern.

This is another unique Koi created by Aoki, a cross between Goshiki and Kujaku, photographed in 2010.
Interestingly it displays all the characteristics of Kujaku but the orange pattern is free of scale pattern.


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