My 2016 harvest season really was a bit of an epic one with, between September and November, visits to Poland, the USA twice, and Japan twice, and during that time I saw some really superb Koi, that’s for sure.  Of course also I visited Thomas Pohl at Koi Aqua in Germany as well to photograph some of the Koi has growing on there – http://nishikigoi.life/2016/09/22/visit-koiaqua-koi-detail/.

If you read my post yesterday, and interview with Adam Byer – http://nishikigoi.life/2016/12/07/back-garden-breeding-interview-adam-byer/ – I stated that when I first started keeping Koi 30 years ago, the idea that it was possible to breed Koi outside of Japan, let alone in your back garden, was really a non-starter.  It has to be said that even growing Koi in the way that people like Thomas, and indeed many hobbyists around the world as well are, was pushing the boundaries of what was possible.

Visits to Yoshikigoi, Quality Koi and Purdin Koi Farm have left me in no doubt that high class Nishikigoi can be bred outside of Japan, although doing so comes with a whole new set of challenges in addition to those faced by breeders in Japan.  Make no bones about it, breeding high quality Koi anywhere in the world is hard, very hard.

The All Japan Koi Show is the best way to demonstrate how rare really high quality Koi are.  At the beginning of February the Japanese Koi industry will converge on Tokyo Ryutsu Centre and take with them somewhere around 1900 Koi, sizes from 12cm to 100cm+, representing around 8 or 9 years worth of production, very few of the Koi will be in the older ages, most being under 4 or 5 years old.

Very, very few of Japan’s Nishikigoi breeders are producing Gosanke that can compete and win at that level of competition, at least on a regular basis.

There are though 21 variety show classes at the All Japan Koi Show – http://nishikigoi.life/2016/01/18/2016-all-japan-koi-demystified/ – and for many breeders those other varieties are their target.


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At Yoshikigoi, Jos Aben focused firstly on non-Gosanke varieties, and indeed looked to create new variations on existing varieties, before more recently starting to move onto Gosanke production to complete their repertoire.

When I visited Yoshikigoi at the beginning of October I found Koi of many varieties to satisfy me, and I am quite happy to go on record as stating that some of the Koi being produced at Yoshikigoi are good enough to compete for and win major prizes at the All Japan Koi Show, a statement that I don’t make lightly.  No, they are not the Gosanke, but the Beni Kikokuryu really are of the highest standard, as are some of the other Kawarigoi presented below.

Anyway, after a rather lengthy introduction, here are some of the Koi that I picked out as of particular interest from Yoshikigoi’s 2016 nisai harvest.

As stated above, these first 2 Koi really are of superb quality, bright clean colours and pattern, great lustre, clean heads.  Which one you prefer is personal choice, quality wise I think they are equal.  Entered in Kawarigoi class, if I saw either of these Koi picking up a Sakura prize at the All Japan Koi Show then I would not be surprised.

Yoshikigoi Beni Kikokuryu

Yoshikigoi Beni Kikokuryu

Yoshikigoi Beni Kikokuryu

Yoshikigoi Beni Kikokuryu

The Kikokuryu below stood out in the pond initially from all the others for 1 reason for me, the head.  The clean platinum head is absolutely spotless, and then around the gill plates, eyes and on the nose it exhibits a great contrasting black pattern.  The lustre on the body is superb and the line of doitsu scales on the dorsal ridge quite beautiful.  Another Koi that I wouldn’t be surprised to see at the All Japan Koi Show in Kawarigoi class.

Yoshikigoi Kikokuryu

Yoshikigoi Kikokuryu

This Doitsu Ochiba is beautifully clean and the brown and grey pattern is incredibly interesting and unique.  Good enough for the All Japan Show?  You bet it is, where it would again compete in Kawarigoi class.


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Yoshikigoi Doitsu Ochiba

Yoshikigoi Doitsu Ochiba

Jos has several Ochiba Shigure variations going on at Yoshikigoi, the example below is one of them.  When I was 16 years old I was given a copy of Dr Takeo Kuroki’s ‘Modern Nishikigoi’ book as a present.  It was one of my bibles at the time, in particular the rear section which contained ‘unique Koi’.  ‘Kawari’ translates as ‘change’ or ‘different’, indeed before Nishikigoi, the word Kawarigoi was used to describe coloured carp.  I’m not sure what Jos calls this variety/style, but that is why I’ve used Kawari Doitsu Ochiba.  We have brown and a bluish grey of regular Ochiba, but the style is different.  As well as being different, it also retains qualities about it.  For example the patten is pleasing, the colouration is bright, consistent and blemish free.

Yoshikigoi Kawari Doitsu Ochiba

Yoshikigoi Kawari Doitsu Ochiba

Much of what I wrote about the above Koi also applies to the Koi below.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see either compete in Kawarigoi class in Japan.

There are breeders in Japan attempting to produce metallic Ochiba Shigure, the one below is one of the most striking and appealing that I’ve seen anywhere.

Yoshikigoi Metallic Doitsu Ochiba

Yoshikigoi Metallic Doitsu Ochiba

This is a really very attractive Koromo. The old text books made very clear distinctions between the different styles of Koromo, they seem to have become somewhat blurred over recent years.  Whether this is Budo Goromo or Sumi Goromo doesn’t really matter I don’t think, it’s the qualities it displays, primarily a nice pattern, with even robing, on a very nice and bright white background.

Yoshikigoi Budo Goromo

Yoshikigoi Budo Goromo

Before visiting Yoshikigoi a number of people had stated to me that it was all Doitsugoi and metallics.   As I’ve stated above, they are really the stand out varieties, Jos and Ernest know that, but everyone has to make their mark somewhere.

That said, there were plenty of pleasing Gosanke amongst the nisai harvest as well, and these are a few that I picked out for one reason or another.


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This Kohaku really appealed to me, the quality was quite lovely.  It would be easy to dismiss the single step pattern as boring, however, what is not particularly evident at this size, and in this picture, are the pattern undulations along the lateral edge, coupled with the big shoulder cut and the little hook at the tail.  When this Koi grows they will become much more apparent, this really is a big fish pattern.

Yoshikigoi Kohaku

Yoshikigoi Kohaku

This Kohaku has nice quality, an interesting pattern, but probably male, which may or may not concern you.  I think it could be a really interesting Koi for the future, one I hope we can see again later in 2017 or beyond.

Yoshikigoi Kohaku

Yoshikigoi Kohaku

This is a Kohaku that I really liked, vying with the top one as my personal favourite – although there were probably many that I didn’t spot in the heavily stocked ponds of newly harvested nisai.  Every time I look at this Koi its pattern reminds me of another Kohaku that achieved some fame, but I can’t quite place it.  As with all these, I hope we can follow this one further in the future.

Yoshikigoi Kohaku

Yoshikigoi Kohaku

This Kohaku is without question one that you will either love or hate, the head pattern will wow you or drive you crazy with hate.  Personally I loved it, and also the other qualities the Koi possessed.  The beni was really soft and delicate, different to the 3 Kohaku above.

Yoshikigoi Kohaku

Yoshikigoi Kohaku

Now this Sanke was one I really liked.  At this size the pattern may appear a little over-powering, but I think when she gets bigger will be very powerful.  The opposing cuts on the shoulders work really well, and what is also exciting is that their is sumi to come on the white ground in both of them.  Moving down, to the right of the dorsal we have that small white window that looks like sumi will fill it perfectly, then on the opposite side, sumi to come beside the dorsal.  As we reach the tail some more tsubo sumi.  Being nigly, if only the red didn’t run right to the tail.

Yoshikigoi Sanke

Yoshikigoi Sanke

This Sanke is a whole different prospect to the one above, where the above pattern is powerful, the one below much more delicate.  The sumi is again wonderfully placed throughout the body.


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Yoshikigoi Sanke

Yoshikigoi Sanke

This Showa has some great qualities, but everything points to it being a male I suspect.  The pattern could become quite wonderful as the sumi develops over time, and the skin is incredibly bright and full of lustre. The body concerns me only for the fact I think it may well always be lean.

Yoshikigoi Showa

Yoshikigoi Showa

I think this Showa will become really nice, the sumi is really interesting on several counts and it reminds me a little of Isa sumi.  I think this probably the most reliable all round package of the 3 Showa here.

Yoshikigoi Showa

Yoshikigoi Showa

Last, but by no means least, a Showa that caught my eye the very first time that I looked in the pond, and seemed to be right in front of me every time I looked in the pond subsequently.  The Koi has lovely skin quality, the shiroji is beautiful.  I love the way the sumi on the head looks as though it is going to work with the beni pattern, seeming to follow the same curves.  Whist the beni pattern is a little sparse at the rear of the Koi, the placement of the sumi looks like it will come and balance it all out nicely.  My only concern is whether the head is a little triangular and pointy.  Nitpicking, just nitpicking.

Yoshikigoi Showa

Yoshikigoi Showa

When I left Yoshikigoi there were still many nisai still in the mud ponds, there were still many tosai in the mud ponds too.

The little selection above though left me in no doubt that there are exciting times ahead for Jos, Ernest, Merv and all involved in the Yoshikigoi project as it expands.

Looking forward to my next visit to the farm in early 2017 to catch up with the Koi above, and some of the tosai that were photographed in detail.  They will be the subject of another post in the coming weeks.


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