At 1pm, with the sun now shining, the judges assembled in the show ground.  Seven teams of 3 members, Niigata breeders, or invited professional breeders and dealers from outside Niigata.  In addition there were 4 VIP judges.  In total 25 votes would be cast by the judges whose first task was to select Grand Champion.

Niigata Nogyosai Judges

Niigata Nogyosai Judges

As the judges passed by my nomination, the Dainichi Kohaku detailed here – http://nishikigoi.life/2015/10/31/benching-at-the-2015-niigata-nogyosai/ – my confidence grew, she was getting a lot of attention.

Niigata Nogyosai Judges

Niigata Nogyosai Judges

Niigata Nogyosai Judges

Niigata Nogyosai Judges

Niigata Nogyosai Judges

Niigata Nogyosai Judges

Futoshi Mano, as head of the Niigata District of the Shinkokai, was one of the VIP judges.  As he filled in his voting slip I had no doubt where his vote was going.

Futoshi Mano

Futoshi Mano

Each year the Koi with the 3 highest number of votes are moved forward for the second round of voting.  The team of helpers stood by awaiting their instructions as to which Koi to move.  Throughout the morning I had discussed the Koi with Mitsunori Isa who was one of the helpers.  He was torn between the Kohaku I liked and the Dainichi Showa.  Confident the Kohaku was so strong I joked with him that they wouldn’t need to move any Koi this year, we agreed a 1000yen wager, me for the Kohaku, him for the Showa.

Niigata Nogyosai handlers and judging assistants

Niigata Nogyosai handlers and judging assistants

The judges gathered back together before placing their completed vote slips into the voting box.

Niigata Nogyosai Judges

Niigata Nogyosai Judges

Niigata Nogyosai Judges

Niigata Nogyosai Judges

With the votes cast the staff set about counting them.  This show is actually organised by Japan Agricultural Co-operative, or JA as it’s known, not the breeders.  Every year it seems there is confusion about the correct protocol and this year was no exception.


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Counting votes

Counting votes

As the vote totals were written down I saw that a Kohaku had been awarded 14 votes giving it a majority and straight win as Grand Champion.  It was indeed a Dainichi Kohaku but, it transpired, not the one that I, Mitsunori, or indeed Futoshi Mano himself had expected.

Futoshi Mano

Futoshi Mano

As I mentioned earlier, normally the 3 Koi with the highest number of votes from the first round are moved to separate adjacent pools for the 2nd round of voting.  Once Grand Champion picked from the 3, a final vote between the remaining 2 would decide runner up.  With a Grand Champion already crowned without any Koi being moved, logic and consistency would have said the Koi with the 2nd and 3rd highest number of votes should just be moved and a head to head vote taken, which both happened to be Dainichi Kohaku, my choice had received 7 votes in the first ballot.  There were actually only 5 Koi nominated in the first round of voting anyway.

Rather than doing that the judges were in fact sent off around all of the show pools in search of nominations for a runner up.  They returned with 8 different nominations on this occasion, including a Ginrin Koi, and not a big one!

‘My’ Kohaku had received 10 nominations in this round.  The Dainichi Showa that Mitsunori had ‘backed’ received 4 votes – in the first round of voting it didn’t receive any!!

It would be that ‘my’ Kohaku and ‘Mitsunori’s’ Showa would go head to head, we reconfirmed the wager of 1000yen and then the judges passed by both Koi, I think we both knew who was going to win.

Judging runner up

Judging runner up

Judging runner up

Judging runner up

As I watched the ballot slips be sorted into 2 piles things looked unbelievably level.  The member of staff nearest me had the slips for pool 2, the Showa, and I watched as he counted them, 1, 2, 3………8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13……..that was it the Showa had won, in fact it took 14 votes to the Kohaku’s 11.


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I immediately went to Mitsunori to pay my 1000yen, and with the result not yet publicly announced he was in complete shock that it was me paying him, and not the other way round.

Dainichi Koi Farm had taken the top 2 prizes at the 2015 Niigata Nogyosai, in itself not a surprise.

Grand Champion 2015 Niigata Nogyosai

Grand Champion 2015 Niigata Nogyosai

Grand Champion 2015 Niigata Nogyosai

Grand Champion 2015 Niigata Nogyosai

Grand Champion 2015 Niigata Nogyosai

Grand Champion 2015 Niigata Nogyosai

Runner up, 2015 Niigata Nogyosai

Runner up, 2015 Niigata Nogyosai

Later in the afternoon ‘my’ Kohaku was confirmed as the best entry in over 80bu class giving Dainichi a clean sweep of the top 3 prizes at this year’s show.

Over 80bu Champion, Niigata Nogyosai

Over 80bu Champion, Niigata Nogyosai

A huge congratulations to Futoshi Mano, and all at Dainichi Koi Farm.

Tomorrow I will bring you all of the major winners from the show, along with a number of other special Koi that I have seen.


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