I awoke at 1.30am this morning and looked at my phone, on it a message from my good friend Masaru Saito advising that Ikarashi Kazuto had passed away, losing his battle to leukemia, a battle which started in the summer of 2015.
The comments and reaction of Koi people around the world in response to the news is testimony to the impact this man had on them, whether they knew him to a greater or a lesser degree.
You can see the many hundreds of condolence messages left here – https://www.facebook.com/niigatanishikigoi/posts/1092904834086529?pnref=story
One overriding message I keep reading is about his smile, and that is one of the things I too will remember. At the beginning of April I bumped into Ikarashi san’s wife in Yamakoshi and she advised me that he had that day returned from hospital having completed treatment, and asked me to stop by the house. The man I met outside the house appeared frail and tired, ravaged by the effects of the leukemia and its treatment. The one thing that remained was his smile, the smile many have mentioned.
His passion for Nishikigoi seemingly had not diminished either, and over the next few weeks back at home his strength gained and he was a central figure at the Mushigame Young Koi Show at the beginning of May. Speaking to others who visited him all he wanted to do was talk about and show them Koi.
I learned from Brian Walcot at the BKKS National this weekend that Ikarashi san had been readmitted to hospital, however at that time there was no further information.
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Sadly, the end for Ikarashi san was near, and he lost his battle last night leaving the Koi world a lot richer for him being in it. Ikarashi san leaves his wife and son, Toshinobu.
On 2 occasions I attended Ikarashi Kazuto’s number 1 jumbo harvest. The video below shows the harvest which took place on 22nd October 2010. I hope you watch and enjoy it, a master of Nishikigoi doing what he did best. Amongst the Koi harvested in this video are the Grand Champion at the 2010 Nagaoka Show and Runner Up at the 2010 Niigata Nogyosai Show – it is a special harvest.