Everybody knows the wonderful spectacle that is the All Japan Koi Show, with its 1800 or so entries.
Throughout Japan there are many much more modest events still held, the kind of events that were instrumental in starting the whole Nishikigoi industry. Had it not been for the mountain rice farmers of Yamakoshi going in competition with one another then the challenge to produce better and better Koi, and new varieties of Koi, would not have existed. I wrote about a similar event which took place last October – http://nishikigoi.life/2015/10/11/village-sales-and-shows/.
Today the breeders of Mushigame held their Young Koi Show, some of the breeders in attendance are household names with hobbyists throughout the world, others I only know as faces, part time breeders, part time rice farmers.
The Koi entries were all in bags, arranged into 4 groups according to size, 50bu, 40bu, 30bu and 20bu. There were no variety classes, everything competed together just in size class.
I wrote yesterday how the weather is rather changeable at the moment, today was positively glorious, bright sunshine, with a healthy breeze at times. As such it was decided to erect a tarpaulin sheet over the bags before judging commenced, had they not I suspect that by the end of the event the water in the bags would have been boiling.
The team of 5 judges met to establish the procedures before getting on with the task.
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As always, the first task selecting a Grand Champion.
Each size class had a best in size, runner up and several tategoi prizes, depending on the number of entries.
Mushigame really is a very special place, where else in the world do you find a group of men sat on the floor with a combined 200 years of so of experience in breeding Nishikigoi? Left to right Toshiyuki Sakai (Yamamatsu), Sadao Ikarashi (Marusada), Shosaku Ikarashi (Marusho), Ikarashi Kazuto and the gentleman with his back to the camera I don’t know.
When I was told about the show I was told that the Koi would only be in bags, obviously not great for pictures. My good friend Baba San of Gekkan Nishikigoi magazine was also at the show and managed to convince the 4 breeders of the winning Koi to return to their respective farms, get bowls of water and briefly release the Koi into them for photographs. Below some quick snaps of the major winners at the 2016 Mushigame Young Koi Show.
A wonderful way to spend a sunday morning, in the company of Koi breeders from my favourite Koi village in the world.