This post was originally made in January 2016 prior to the 2016 All Japan Koi Show, it has been updated and reposted prior to the 2017 event to reflect changes that have been introduced.

As everyone reading this is hopefully aware, the greatest Koi show on earth, the 48th All Japan Koi Show, 2016 Nishikigoi of the World, takes place on 4th and 5th February 2017 at Tokyo Ryutsu Centre.

We have previously posted information for the would be visitor to the show here – http://nishikigoi.life/2015/12/02/visiting-2016-japan-koi-show/

Quite simply this is the pinnacle of Nishikigoi shows, by a long distance, nowhere else on the planet will you find that number of Koi, of the level they are.

For the first time visitor the whole experience can be somewhat overwhelming, it’s not surprising, there is simply so much to see and take in, so many Koi, so many prizes.

In this article we’ll try to explain some of the what and whys, look at how the show is broken down into varieties and sizes, how each prize is decided, what each prize means, and where you can find the winners.


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All Koi that are entered into the All Japan Koi Show are done so in advance, in 2016 this was a total of 1781 Koi, an increase of around 200 from the previous year.  You can read about the entry process here – http://nishikigoi.life/2016/01/14/over-1700-koi-entered-into-2016-all-japan-koi-show/.

In that article we mentioned how each Koi is pre-entered into their appropriate size and variety classes, the size and variety classes that are detailed below.

Size classes

  • Size divisions are from 12cm up to 90cm, 12cm, 15 cm and then in steps of 5cm, i.e. 20, 25, etc.
  • The number represents the maximum length of Koi in that division apart from 90cm, the largest division, which is effectively for any Koi over 85cm.
  • The division is referred to as ‘bu’, i.e. 25bu, but please note that ‘bu’ is not a direct translation of ‘cm’, i.e. 64bu is incorrect.
  • Koi up to 50cm in size are judged together irrespective of their sex in 20 variety classifications.
  • Above 50cm male Koi are judged separately in a reduced set of variety classifications.

Variety classes

There are now 21 ‘general variety classes’ with the introduction of the Mujimono class at the 2016 show – http://nishikigoi.life/2015/11/28/new-mujimono-variety-class-for-2016-all-japan-koi-show/.  As detailed above 50cm and above male Koi are placed into the ‘male variety classes’.

General Variety Classes

  1. Kohaku
  2. Taisho Sanke
  3. Showa Sanshoku
  4. Shiro Utsuri
  5. Hikari Muji
  6. Hikari Moyo
  7. Asagi
  8. Shusui
  9. Kawarigoi
  10. Goshiki
  11. A Ginrin (Gosanke)
  12. B Ginrin (other than A Ginrin)
  13. Bekko
  14. Hikari Utsuri
  15. Tancho
  16. Koromo
  17. Doitsu Koi (excluding Shusui, Hikarimono, and Kumonryu)
  18. Kujaku (including Doitsu Kujaku)
  19. Kumonryu
  20. Hi Utsuri / Ki Utsuri
  21. Muji Mono

Male Variety Classes

  1. Kohaku
  2. Taisho Sanshoku
  3. Showa Sanshoku, Shiro Utsuri, Ki Utsuri, Hi Utsuri
  4. A Ginrin (Gosanke)
  5. Hikari
  6. Doitsu Koi (excluding Shusui and Hikari)
  7. Kawarigoi (all others not mentioned specifically above)

Prizes

The following prizes are awarded.

Overall Grand Champion

– selected from all Koi by all judges, each judge having one vote. Up to 3 ballots may be required until any single Koi receives the required 50% majority vote.

Champions

– (1 Koi for every 413 category), in essence best in size and variety. A considerable number of runners-up prizes are are given, both first runner up and honourable mentions, the exact number varying depending on the number of entries per category.


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Kokugyo Award

– (25 awards) awarded to the best Koi in each size division. Awarded to male and females. Grand Champion takes overall Kokugyo.

Size Division Overall Champions

– (selected from Kokugyo Award winners)

  • Baby Champion (15bu-25bu)
  • Young Champion (30bu-40bu)
  • Adult Champion (45bu-55bu)
  • Mature Champion (60bu-70bu)
  • Superior Champion (75bu-80bu)
  • Jumbo Champion (85bu-90bu)
  • Mature Male Champion (up to 70bu)
  • Superior Male Champion (over 70bu)

Miyabi Award

– (17 awards) awarded to best Gosanke (including Shiro Utsuri) in each size classification.

Sakura Award

– (17 awards) awarded to the best Koi from Goshiki, Kawarigoi, Ginrin A, Ginrin B and Kujaku variety classes in each size classification. Sakura Champion is also awarded to best Sakura.

Tsubaki Award

– (17 awards) awarded to the best in each size class from the following varieties; Tancho, Koromo, Doitsugoi, Hikarimoyo, Kumonryu.

Botan Award

– (17 awards) awarded to the best in each size class from the following varieties; Hi Utsuri/Ki Utsuri, Shusui, Asagi, Bekko, Hikariutsuri, Hikarimuji, Muji Mono.


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Best in Variety

– (21 awards) awarded to the best example in each variety classification, irrespective of size. With effect from 2015 this Koi wins this award exclusively, whereas previous for example the Grand Champion was automatically the Best in Variety too.

Jumbo A and Jumbo B

– awarded to largest Gosanke and non-Gosanke respectively.

In total that is something like 520 main prizes available, excluding the second places and honourable mentions awarded in each size and variety class.  As you can imagine that’s a pretty massive task to judge, so how do the judges go about it?

Judgement Day

Judging commences at 9.30am on Friday morning.  The show hall is closed off to the public, and indeed professionals who are not directly involved with the judging process.

Approximately 80 judges are invited, Japanese Shinkokai members and international members, all Nishikigoi professionals, either breeders or dealers.

At 8.30am they assemble for a pre-judging briefing at which they each draw a number from a box to decide which of the 12 judging teams they will join.  Each team will decide who is the nominated head judge.


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Judges briefing meeeting 2016 All Japan Koi Show

Judges briefing meeeting 2016 All Japan Koi Show

The first task for the judges is to nominate a Grand Champion.  Each judge makes a ‘secret’ nomination for one individual Koi.  For a Koi to take Grand Champion it must accrue over 50% of the total available votes.  It is unusual that this occurs in the first round of voting.  Usually at least one more round of voting is required.  The Koi with the top 2 or 3 number of votes in the first round are subject to another round of voting where all judges must choose from only those Koi.  If there are 3 Koi and still no single Koi has a majority then a 3rd and final vote takes place between the top 2.  This process also decides the ‘Jumbo Champion’, the runner up (note this is different to Jumbo A which is awarded on size only).

Judges assembled at 2016 AJKS prior to GC judging

Judges assembled at 2016 AJKS prior to GC judging

Futoshi Mano of Dainichi Koi Farm casts his vote at the 2016 All Japan Koi Show

Futoshi Mano of Dainichi Koi Farm casts his vote at the 2016 All Japan Koi Show

GC Nominations are counted at the 2016 All Japan Koi Show

GC Nominations are counted at the 2016 All Japan Koi Show

The heads of each team, which are pre-allocated size classes, then draw to find out which variety classes they will judge.  Go-sanke classes are more heavily entered than some others so the aim here is to try and balance out the workload.

The judging teams will then split off to judge their specified size and variety classes which will take them past lunchtime.

Judging teams 2016 AJKS

Judging teams 2016 AJKS

Coloured stickers for winners

Coloured stickers for winners

When they have judged the 420 champions they have to again join together in various permutations to judge the higher awards, i.e. those that judged 75bu and 80bu will be required to select a ‘Superior’ Champion, those that judged different varieties in 70bu must choose Kokugyo, Miyabi, Sakura, etc.

Judging teams join to select small size champions at the 2016 All Japan Koi Show

Judging teams join to select small size champions at the 2016 All Japan Koi Show

By approximately 3pm the task will be completed, all the Koi judged and all the prizes awarded.

125 of the winning Koi, GC, Overall Size Champions, Kokugyo, Miyabi, Sakura, Botan, Tsubaki, Best in Variety and Jumbo A and B, are all moved to ‘champion’ pools at one end of the exhibition hall.


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Layout of main prize winners

Layout of main prize winners

By Saturday morning when the show officially opens to the public large signs with a mixture of  Japanese and English will be on all of the vats containing the main winning Koi.  Since around 2010 the amount of information that can be discerned easily has increased year on year.

Winner's vat sign

Winner’s vat sign

Many of the other pools containing show Koi will have certificates hanging above for the first, second and honourable mention prizes, including the name of the winner.

1st place in size and variety signs

1st place in size and variety signs

By the entrance to exhibition hall information regarding all winning Koi can be found on the wall, to date this has always been in Japanese, however if you are looking for a specific prize winner someone should be able to point you in the right direction.

On Wednesday 1st February we will be at Tokyo Ryutsu Center and our live and detailed coverage of the 2017 All Japan Koi Show will begin, and continue over the course of the whole weekend.  To be sure of keeping up to date with all of our reports then sign up to the Nishikigoi.Life Newsletter, you can find a sign up box on the right, or click here – http://eepurl.com/2jITT.


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