In the 3rd part of this article we speak to Gary Smith of Gatwick Koi in the UK (www.gatwickkoi.com) about his thoughts and experiences of leaving Koi in Japan with breeders as azukari.

See part 1 here – http://nishikigoi.life/2015/03/14/azukari-to-leave-or-not-to-leave-part-1/

See part 2 here – http://nishikigoi.life/2015/03/15/azukari-to-leave-or-not-to-leave-part-2-jeroen-van-keulen/

 


 

N-N.com – What are your reasons for leaving Koi as azukari in Japan?


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Gary – I could answer this many ways , I like to see the development of the Koi and to see if it gains the attributes that the dealer discussed with me or my clients, its nice to see how much the Koi grows in the mudpond, also there is the possible outcome of the increase in value of the Koi but, for me personally, it’s the gamble, I love to see them when they come out of the mudpond , there are no guarantees leaving Koi out there and its just amazing to see how they come out!

N-N.com – What are the benefits of leaving a Koi in Japan to be grown?

Gary – Many people can grow koi very quickly in this country nowadays , but many still can’t , or don’t have the patience or sometimes the conditions to grow the Koi and obtain the best results, this can be done by leaving the Koi in Japan.

N-N.com – What kind of Koi do you generally leave as azukari?

Gary – All kinds, its always best if leaving a Koi as azukari to get the highest quality you can afford. But, on the other hand, sometimes when you deal with a breeder very closely they will talk through the stocks and show you good Koi that could do well in the mudponds at prices that are not astronomical . These are the ones that can give you great pleasure when they come out of the mudponds.

When we started leaving koi in Japan many years ago, it was always a gamble, but as time moves on you start to realise that cheaper koi will only get become larger cheaper koi and its just not worth getting involved with. We now seriously think hard about leaving a koi in Japan, talk in depth with the breeder, and also spend a lot more money on the koi we leave in Japan .


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The Showa below was bred by Maruhiro Koi Farm and purchased by Gary in 2012, the 3 pictures show its development from 2012 to 2014.

Maruhiro Showa 2012

Maruhiro Showa 2012

Maruhiro Showa 2013

Maruhiro Showa 2013

Maruhiro Showa 2014

Maruhiro Showa 2014

N-N.com – Can you give an idea of the costs usually associated with leaving a Koi in Japan to grow?

Gary – This depends from breeder to breeder, and also on the age of the Koi. As we know the yen varies so much but last trip I paid 30k for most nisai and sansai which works out now (sept 2013) at around £185, one breeder where we bought so many fish even waved the fee! Some were a little more at 40k and 50k yen.

N-N.com – How many Koi do you presently have in Japan for yourself or your customers?

Gary – At the moment we have 29 Koi growing on at various breeders, these have been left at Shintaro, Sakai, Yagenji, Sekiguchi, Tanaka and of course Maruhiro . A lot of these are very nice quality, but around a dozen are the sort of quality that may stay in Japan for a few more years before they come to the UK, again, depending on how they do in the mudpond ! Two of these are customers Koi.

N-N.com – What are the risks associated with leaving a Koi to grow in Japan?


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Gary – This again depends on the breeder, I try and work close nowadays with a smaller group of breeders, these breeders will normally say ‘we will work something out if things go wrong’, some will just say ‘it’s all your own risk’. You must get this sorted out with the breeder at the time, its no good going back when a fish doesn’t come out of the mudpond and demanding this, that and the other, when usually Koi are left at the owners risk! That’s why we work with the breeders we do as they usually will help us out when/if things go wrong. One breeder I have started to buy a little higher quality from, when asked the risk as these where expensive koi for me said, ‘no problem all left at the breeders risk!’ That’s what good relations bring!

N-N.com – Have you experienced any disasters?

Gary – Yes, and id rather not talk about it! All joking aside, one breeder we used to visit lost a lot of expensive Koi, and none come out of the mudpond. One that did got lost before shipping so simple, we don’t go there any more.

N-N.com – In your experience how are such disasters normally handled by the breeder?

Gary – Again, sorry to return to relationships but nowadays we always get a satisfactory outcome. Last year one large yonsai I purchased didn’t do to well in the mudpond so I said to the breeder, ‘no problem you can keep her and sell her as a thanks for all the good azukari I have left here’, she wasn’t expensive and you have to remember that a 70cm koi is expensive to ship so therefore expensive to sell. The breeder understood where I was coming from and, on the last day, I was buying some good quality nisai. I settled on a box of three, and was pleasantly surprised when the breeder said you only pay for two. Nice gesture! Also a customer had what should have been a sansai not come out of the pond and it was replaced with what I thought was a better Koi altogether, this breeder is a rather large farm and shocked me as we new it was on our risk.

N-N.com – Can you share any particularly interesting stories from leaving a Koi as azukari?


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Gary – Yes, in Spring 2013 we purchased some quite expensive tosai at Sekiguchi Koi Farm and left them as azukari.  The one I had best hopes for turned out to be a male when harvested in October.  Initial disappointed soon changed when the breeder suggested it should go to the All Japan Koi Show, and also offered to buy the Koi back.  It was their biggest nisai that harvest.  The Koi was subsequently sold to a hobbyist in the UK who collects only male Koi.  At the recent South East Spring Koi Show he took 2nd Size 5 Showa.

The Sekiguchi Showa Gary refers to above, photographed April 2014

The Sekiguchi Showa Gary refers to above, photographed April 2014

You can see it as tosai in the video below.

Another interesting story revolves around a Showa from Yamamatsu Koi Farm.

Unfortunately a customers’ Koi had been lost in the mud pond.  Toshiaki Sakai offered the customer a nisai Showa from their tategoi pond as a replacement.

The customer didn’t really like the Koi but I did so bought it back off them in an instant and left for another summer as azukari with the breeder.  When harvested in autumn 2014 as sansai the Koi had grown to 59cm.


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Yamamatsu 'replacement' Showa acquired by Gary in February 2014, 42cm

Yamamatsu ‘replacement’ Showa acquired by Gary in February 2014, 42cm

October 2014, as sansai the Koi had grown from 42cm to 59cm.

October 2014, as sansai the Koi had grown from 42cm to 59cm.

Keep an eye out for part 4 of this ongoing series coming shortly on Niigata-Nishikigoi.com.  Got any interesting azukari experiences to share?  If so drop us a line.


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