The jetlag continued to challenge me on 15th, having been awake since around 1.30am I headed out to catch daybreak and wasn’t disappointed.

As the sun rose in the east the golden light caught the edges of the autumn landscape whilst mist flowed through the valley below. Quite beautiful!

Dawn breaks over Kawaguchi, 6.05am 15th October 2016

Dawn breaks over Kawaguchi, 6.05am 15th October 2016

With time to spare before I was due to meet at Yagenji for the harvest of what I expected was a pond of sansai, i headed out behind Mushigame Village to the number 1 mudponds of Yagenji and Marushin, knowing that Marushin’s would be harvested in the afternoon, and I thought Yagenji’s the following day.

The 2014 harvests of these ponds were featured on Niigata Seasons Autumn – https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL6HVMW8fJXEuA03zvQW6Xw500gHm4KT6K.

Mudponds of Yagenji and Marushin in Mushigame Village

Mudponds of Yagenji and Marushin in Mushigame Village

Marushin No1 mudpond

Marushin No1 mudpond

I was familiar with a number of the Yagenji Koi having followed them in previous years and they were easily identifiable in the drone shots.

Yagenji No1 mudpond

Yagenji No1 mudpond

Koi awaiting harvest in Yagenji No1 mudpond

Koi awaiting harvest in Yagenji No1 mudpond

Koi awaiting harvest in Yagenji No1 mudpond

Koi awaiting harvest in Yagenji No1 mudpond

I met up with the Ishihara brothers and Jeroen van Keulen at the Koi house before heading out to harvest.  Minutes later, much to mine and Jeroen’s surprise we were stood at the number 1 pond about to harvest it.  I had a huge sense of anticipation and relief, I’d been waiting for this harvest since early summer and would have been gutted to have missed it – http://nishikigoi.life/2016/05/04/koi-spotting-yagenjis-no1-mud-pond/.


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As you can see it was a truly beautiful autumn morning.

Clear blue skies

Clear blue skies

The net is dragged around the pond

The net is dragged around the pond

As the end of the net closed together I could help but notice what looked my a smiley face being created, was it a sign?

Smiley face?

Smiley face?

The final stage of netting

The final stage of netting

With seconds of battery life remaining the above was the last drone picture of the morning and it was hastily brought in to land where Yaichi Ishihara, who had been fascinated and photographed it in flight, continued to take pictures of it on the ground.

Yaichi Ishihara photographing the drone

Yaichi Ishihara photographing the drone

In no time at all the Koi were being lifted from the muddy water and carried up the back to the waiting truck, some superbly impressive Koi at that.

Jeroen van Keulen lifts a Kujaku into the pool

Jeroen van Keulen lifts a Kujaku into the pool

84cm Karashigoi

84cm Karashigoi

Large Kohaku

Large Kohaku

As I turned back to the mudpond I saw Toshinori was carrying the Koi that I had dreamed of buying last autumn – http://nishikigoi.life/2015/10/13/yagenji-sansai-and-yonsai-harvest/.  I grabbed one single shot of her.

First glimpse of 'my' Showa

First glimpse of ‘my’ Showa

As Daisuke lifted her into the tank on the back of the truck she looked great.


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Daisuke lifts 'my' Showa into the tank

Daisuke lifts ‘my’ Showa into the tank

Across the valley Marushin were harvesting another of their mudponds, you can see it above the letter ‘n’ in the aerial image at the top of the page.

Marushin ikeage taking place across the valley

Marushin ikeage taking place across the valley

As the pond was netted for the second time to catch a few missed in the first pull, Yaichi was busy photographing his sons at work.

Yaichi Ishihara - breeder turned photographer

Yaichi Ishihara – breeder turned photographer

Yaichi Ishihara photographing the harvest

Yaichi Ishihara photographing the harvest

Net closes in for the 2nd time

Net closes in for the 2nd time

71cm Showa owned by UK customer

71cm Showa owned by UK customer

Many of the Koi in the pond are owned by customers already, like the one above, etiquette and indeed risk of damage mean unfortunately I can’t photograph them.  The Koi above is one such example, it is a Koi I originally posted last year – http://nishikigoi.life/2015/10/13/yagenji-sansai-and-yonsai-harvest/.  It grew from 62cm to 71cm over the summer.

‘My’ Showa however remained unsold, and therefore I could photograph it.

'My' Showa 12 months progress

‘My’ Showa 12 months progress

She is an incredibly imposing Koi and has a real presence in the bowl, and a power about her.  Where her story and life takes her now only time will tell.

In another post I’ll post a number of other Yagenji Koi I’ve photographed.  Stay tuned.


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