This article first appeared in issue 632 of English Rinko magazine published on the 15th June 2015. For more information on Rinko magazine and how to subscribe please visit – http://www.snkkoi.com/onlinerinkopdf/index.html

Ideal beni of Isa Showa

Your new indoor pond house was completed, right?

Isa: Yes. It is about three years old. We have been using the indoor ponds as our main breeding ponds.

I hear there is a special pond for giving finishing touches to the koi before they enter Koi shows.

Isa: Well, we still lack the know how on raising Koi in indoor ponds, and are learning a lot from various Koi traders.

However that may be, the finishing of the Showa Sanshoku which won Superior Champion at the 46th All Japan Koi Show was done in this indoor pond wasn’t it? I was amazed at the level of its finish.

Isa: It was by pure chance that the fish won the prize.


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External appearance of the indoor pond house. The farm’s main ponds are in this house. A new indoor pond house is under construction now. It will be completed and be used this fall (October 2015).

External appearance of the indoor pond house. The farm’s main ponds are in this house. A new indoor pond house is under construction now. It will be completed and be used this fall (October 2015).

Inside of the indoor pond house completed in 2012. There are ten 15-ton multipurpose ponds and one 70-ton pond for giving the koi finishing touches. The innermost pond is the 70-ton pond.

Inside of the indoor pond house completed in 2012. There are ten 15-ton multipurpose ponds and one 70-ton pond for giving the koi finishing touches. The innermost pond is the 70-ton pond.

The 70-ton pond for giving koi finishing touches. The Showa Sanshoku which won the Superior championship in the 46th All Japan Koi Show was raised in this pond.

The 70-ton pond for giving koi finishing touches. The Showa Sanshoku which won the Superior championship in the 46th All Japan Koi Show was raised in this pond.

Everyone knows ‘Isa Showa’ dominated most categories at the 46th All Japan Koi show. They won not only Superior Champion, but also Mature Champion and Kokugyo Prize. Especially in the large size category of 80bu, many top class Kohaku and Taisho Sanshoku were jostling with each other. How do you feel about winning the championship in such a prestigious event?

Isa: That gave me great pleasure since I have been applying myself to growing large Koi. The champion Showa’s sumi markings were perfect. Its beni markings were as bright as they were in the past and the white skin was also very beautiful.

As you mentioned right now, the fish has bright beni markings. That is one of the strongest characteristics of Isa Showa. What are you particular about regarding the brightness of beni?

Isa: When I engaged in the Koi farming business I first faced the improvement of the beni. I experienced producing many Showa Sanshoku with orange or yellowish brown hi. There is a saying, ‘kakippi and nabe-zumi’ which describes the valueless colours of beni and sumi. ‘Kaki’ means the color of persimmons and ‘nabe-zumi’ means soot on the bottom of a pan.

Most of the Showa Sanshoku in the old days used to have orange-coloured hi and pale black sumi. However, many Showa Sanshoku with those colours somehow tend to grow very large. Some young Showa Sanshoku may have very beautiful beni, however, as they grow older and their scales also become larger, the colour of beni usually becomes pale. So, I decided to devote myself to the improvement of beni markings’ colour. My ideal beni colour is like that of the Kohaku.

Isa Showa, 80bu, Superior Champion 46th All Japan Koi Show. Mitsunori Isa says the colour of the Showa's beni is ideal.

Isa Showa, 80bu, Superior Champion 46th All Japan Koi Show. Mitsunori Isa says the colour of the Showa’s beni is ideal.

Can you give us some concrete examples of your efforts to achieve that purpose?
Isa: We have to make persistent efforts to find Koi with fine Beni colour first, and to cross it with our Koi parents. We repeat the same task over and over until we get offspring with our ideal beni colour.


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What is your ideal beni colour of Kohaku?

Isa: Do you remember the fish called ‘Inazuma Showa’ which belonged to Mr. Masao Kato. I encountered that Showa for the first time in the second year after I engaged in this business. The beauty of Inazuma Showa is unforgettable. The beni of his Showa has been my ideal colour and is the criteria I have been using when I check beni colours.

The 'Inazuma Showa'. This Showa belonged to Mr. Masao Kato and won the Grand Champion prize at the 23rd All Japan Koi Show.

The ‘Inazuma Showa’. This Showa belonged to Mr. Masao Kato and won the Grand Champion prize at the 23rd All Japan Koi Show.

The way to the modern Showa requires improvements of other qualities

I was deeply impressed by the Showa Sanshoku that won the 70bu Kokugyo Prize in the 46th All Japan Koi Show. It was perfectly finished and its sumi markings were superb. Are you particular about the sumi too?

Isa: I owe that to Narita Koi Farms. While I concentrated my attention on the improvement of beni, the quality of sumi deteriorated. Then I made every effort to improve sumi by introducing new parent. [Note you can read about the introduction of this parent in our earlier interview from 2009 – http://nishikigoi.life/2016/12/02/interview-mitsunori-isa/]

Isa Showa, 70bu Kokugyo Prize Winner at the 46th All Japan Koi Show

Isa Showa, 70bu Kokugyo Prize Winner at the 46th All Japan Koi Show

You can’t run after two hares at the same time, can you?

Isa: Exactly. That’s how things go in this world. I am now striving for a better figure of our Koi. Our Showa Sanshoku have gotten bright beni. Their sumi are late bloomers but desirable. They grow quite large but their skeletal structures somehow don’t look as good as their competitors in many Koi shows.


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Do you think the physical strength of the Showa Sanshoku is the weakest among the Gosanke?

Isa: Yes. Showa Sanshoku’s Kuroko is the weakest among the three. So, improving the strength of internal organs is an extra requirement for Showa Sanshoku.

That is precisely why many Koi farmers say the improvement of Nishikigoi is an endless task.

Isa: At least, that certainly fits for me.

You have been engaged in Koi farming for almost a quarter of a century. Have you got the impression that your Showa Sanshoku have been approaching your idea of the ideal one?

Isa: No, not at all. When I succeeded my family business, the then Isa Showa had only beautiful figures and beni markings. Their sumi markings had a tendency to appear upon one another. Today I have a feeling that all the effort I had put into the improvement of the beni and sumi qualities has finally begun to show results. Especially since the sumi markings began to appear on the white ground, not on the beni or other sumi markings.


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Do you mean Isa Showa has changed into the modern Showa?

Isa: That’s right. Regarding the sumi markings of Showa, I keep selecting offspring which have Sumi markings on the white ground in mind.

What about introducing new breeds as Koi parents?

Isa: I am always searching for different breeds, but there aren’t so many varieties of Showa Sanshoku breed. I visit Dainichi Koi Farm in Niigata, Kachi Koi Farm in Fukui and even Ueno Fish Farm in Kumamoto in order to find the bloodlines not close to my own Showa.

Can you tell us about the most impressive Isa Showa?

Isa: Certainly. It is a rather unique Showa. I sent it to the Yume Koi-ten held at the same time as the 32nd All Japan Young Koi Show. It was favorably received by many visitors.


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Isa Showa, yonsai, 70cm, exhibited at the 'Yume Koi' of 32nd All Japan Young Koi Show.

Isa Showa, yonsai, 70cm, exhibited at the ‘Yume Koi’ of 32nd All Japan Young Koi Show.

 


This interview will continue in part 2 which will be published on 12th January 2017.

Many thanks to Shuji Fujita, publisher of Rinko magazine for authorising the re-publication of this content.  The content remains copyright of the original publisher and must not be reproduced in any way without their express permission, all rights reserved.


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