This article was originally posted at ‘9 Years of All Japan Grand Champions’ in 2014, and updated in 2015 and 2016 with the 10th and 11th Grand Champions.  This update adds the 2017 Grand Champion.

 

In just 3 weeks time another new Grand Champion will also be crowned.

If you are thinking of visiting be sure to check out my guide here – http://nishikigoi.life/2016/11/21/visiting-2017-japan-koi-show/

Below you will find my personal ranking of the last 12 All Japan Grand Champion Koi, Koi which I’ve been fortunate enough to see in the flesh on the days they were awarded the title. What are your personal favourites?

Number 1

2013 Grand Champion M-Legend Bred by Sakai Fish Farm

2013 Grand Champion
M-Legend
Bred by Sakai Fish Farm

To see this particular Koi at the 2013 was initially a surprise.


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A worthy winner at the 2011 All Japan Koi Show however having previously won the Rinyukai All Japan Show in 2009.

At the 2011 ZNA All Japan Show in November, at 97cm, she completed the ‘triple crown’ of titles but, in the daylight of the outdoor show to many was looking a little tired.

Measuring 98cm in length and 9 years old, she simply blew most people away.

Having been spawned by Sakai Fish Farm in 2010 she had blossomed again.

The presence she exercised in the vat, the amazing consistency of the flawless beni, the overall quality, make this the best Koi I have ever seen.

Number 2

2007 Grand Champion Sakura Bred by Dainichi

2007 Grand Champion
Sakura
Bred by Dainichi

I fell in love with this Koi at first sight at my first All Japan Koi Show in 2006 where she was awarded the Jumbo Champion prize.


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There was one thing struck me about her that I particularly recall, her youthfulness compared to many of the other large Koi at the show.

I recall arriving on the wednesday, the day before benching, in 2007 and seeing her picture on the side of a show pool.

I couldn’t wait to see her the following day and, without doubt, as soon as I did I was sure that I was looking at the next All Japan Grand Champion.

The friday was my first day as official ‘press’ at the All Japan Koi Show and I will certainly never forget being stood next to Futoshi Mano then moment that Sakura was crowned Grand Champion, in January 2008 Futoshi had no idea who this white photographer stood next to him was.

Sakura’s place in Dainichi Koi Farm history is now legendary, and still she remains my favourite ever Koi.

Number 3

My first encounter with this particular Koi was in 2015 at the All Japan Koi Show when she was awarded 2nd place.  It was another Koi which I fell in love with as soon as I saw her.


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In the November before that she had already won the 2014 Rinyukai All Japan Grand Champion.

Whilst I wasn’t surprised she didn’t take the GC title in 2015, I was pretty sure that we would see her again.  The pattern, body shape and overall quality were quite beautiful to my eyes.

Between February 2015 and February 2016 she grew significantly, putting on 7-8cm in length and significant girth as well.

She was the first entry to be released into a show pool on the benching morning, Thursday of the show weekend, and no other Koi would arrive to beat her, although there was stiff competition in the form of the 2015 Rinyukai Grand Champion, and a 103cm Momotaro Showa.

It took 2 rounds of voting but the Dainichi Kohaku finally won by 48 votes to 43 from the Sakai Kohaku that was reigning Rinyukai Champion.

2016 Grand Champion, Bred by Dainichi Toyota

2016 Grand Champion, Bred by Dainichi Toyota

Number 4

2010 Grand Champion Bred by Dainichi

2010 Grand Champion
Bred by Dainichi

In 2010 the All Japan Show moved to Niigata City form Tokyo Ryutsu Center for 1 year.


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As has been the norm I was at the show from the start of set up through to the close.

I recall on Thursday morning Narita Koi Farm being pretty much the first people to arrive at the show with their Koi.

Of course there is always anticipation when the ‘big guns’ arrive to see what they’ve brought, whether they are known Koi or not.

One Koi that was a bit of a surprise was this Kohaku.  She was runner up in 2009 however in the winner’s show pool her condition didn’t look good, her head appeared to swell and her eyes protruding.

Not only had she returned to the show, her quality was superb and she had grown approximately 9cm to 99cm.

This is the only Koi I’ve witnessed take the Grand Champion prize in the very first ballot, taking 45 of 85 votes.


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She would go on to pass the 1m mark and win GC at the ZNA All Japan Show too.

Number 5

2015 Grand Champion, Bred by Sakai Fish Farm

2015 Grand Champion
Bred by Sakai Fish Farm

This Kohaku, bred by Sakai Fish Farm and raised at Narita Koi Farm first appeared at the 2013 All Japan Koi Show where it was awarded the 80bu Kokugyo Prize.  In 2014 she was my choice for Grand Champion, losing out as runner up to Lion Queen.  I wasn’t surprised to see her in 2015, bigger, and better than in 2014 and she was finally awarded the Grand Champion prize.

This Koi had excellent quality throughout and it was great to see her development and progress over several years from 80bu Kokugyo winner to 94cm GC, a prize she 100% deserved on the day.

Her path to GC was similar to that of the 2008 Champion, but in terms of overall quality I don’t think the 2008 champion would have beaten the 2015 champion side by side.

Number 6

Grand Champion, Kohaku, Sakai Fish Farm, 97cm

2017 Grand Champion,
Kohaku,
Sakai Fish Farm,
97cm

2017 promised a great battle for the Grand Champion prize.  Narita Koi Farm brought a Sakai bred Kohaku that had been runner up in 2016, as well as the Rinyukai Grand Champion in 2015.  Sakai themselves brought the reigning ZNA Grand Champion which measured 97cm, a Koi which was 90bu Kokugyo winner the year before, along with several other challengers including the 2016 Rinyukai Champion.  Dainichi brought the Kohaku which had won pretty much everything since winning the Niigata Nogyosai back in 2012.

The 2 standout Koi were the Narita handled Koi and Sakai’s ZNA Grand Champion.  Sadly the Koi world was robbed of a head to head between the 2 Koi when shortly after benching the Narita Koi was withdrawn as it had a bad turn in the show pool.


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A very impressive Koi, and on the day a very worthy Grand Champion.

Number 7

2008 Grand Champion Alexandria Bred by Sakai Fish Farm

2008 Grand Champion
Alexandria
Bred by Sakai Fish Farm

Alexandria was a Koi that I first saw at my first All Japan Koi Show in 2006 where she took the 80bu Kokugyo Prize.

The following year, 2007, she stepped up a size level and won the 85bu Kokugyo award.Finally in 2008 she made the step up to winning the Grand Champion prize.

As with Sakura, this Koi stood out for its amazing youthful looks.

Some people questioned the Koi for having a slightly small pointed head but from a personal perspective it didn’t trouble me.

The amazing skin on the Koi won through for me, and it was great to see her progress through the ranks over the course of 3 years.


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Number 8 

2012 Grand Champion Bred by Dainichi Koi Farm

2012 Grand Champion
Bred by Dainichi Koi Farm

I first saw this Showa in 2010 when the All Japan Koi Show was held in Niigata.

I vividly recall her being released into a show pool and that evening described her as ‘simply awesome’.

Whilst not a major winner at that show I had earmarked this Koi as a potential Grand Champion, predicting that being in 2013.

In 2011 the Koi returned to the All Japan Koi Show and took the Superior Champion and Best in Variety awards, being in 80bu size class.

During 2011 various online discussions including Ryuki Narita indicated that he hoped that she may in fact be able to win the title in 2012, despite being a relatively small 84cm in size.

Ryuki was proven correct, she did indeed take the Grand Champion title in 2012, beating significantly larger opposition.


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The quality of the Koi was sublime, the skin, pigmentation (red and black) and pattern.  The only negative the fact that as she swam there appeared to be a slight un-uniformity in her body line, indeed the above factors blinded many visitors to that fact.

That final point prevents this Koi being my 3rd or 4th ranked GC.

Number 9

2011 Grand Champion M-Legend Bred by Sakai Fish Farm

2011 Grand Champion
M-Legend
Bred by Sakai Fish Farm

People may find it strange that a Koi that I rank as number 1 above when it won in 2013 ranks as only 6th overall when it won the prize in 2011.

In 2011 this Koi didn’t give me the same feeling, or excite me perhaps, quite so much as the other Koi that I’ve detailed above.

It certainly didn’t excite me as much as in 2013!

Number 10

2014 Grand Champion Lion Queen Bred by Momotaro Koi Farm

2014 Grand Champion
Lion Queen
Bred by Momotaro Koi Farm

I am sure many will be a lttle surprised to find Lion Queen only at 7 in my ranking.


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In 2013, at 92cm, I saw her for the first time at the All Japan Show when she was runner up to ‘M-Legend’. She was 92cm in length and just 5 years old.  She had some excellent quality to boot, the skin and beni quality were excellent.  However, she didn’t excite me so much, she was a Showa, and Showa meant sumi, and I didn’t really rate her sumi quality.  Large amounts sitting on the red ground and very broken.

On the run up to the show she was reportedly 98cm and with ‘improved sumi’.

On the day she was in fact 99cm, the sumi had indeed changed on the head, the body sumi was much the same, but the was a clear non-symmetry to the body line.

She wasn’t my choice on the day for Grand Champion, and has never given me the buzz that she gives other people, and that other champions have given me, primarily I think for one reason, the sumi.

Number 11

2006 Grand Champion Yamato Bred by Sakai Fish Farm

2006 Grand Champion
Yamato
Bred by Sakai Fish Farm

Yamato, the first All Japan Grand Champion that I witnessed in 2006.

The first time I saw her I was in fact looking for the ‘maruten’ owned by Mark Crampton and Martin Plows, and I had visited the show specifically to cover her ‘victory’.


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I remember looking into a show pool and seeing ‘Yamato’, an otherwise unkown Koi to me, and being struck by her impossing appearance, both in terms of pattern and body shape and style.  She was lean and muscular, more streamlined than other jumbo Koi that were there.

It was only the following day after judging that I learned she belonged to Mark and Martin as well.

Maybe Yamato didn’t have the time to make an impression on me that other Koi have since, maybe being placed 8 makes her a victim of time, maybe the  level of Koi has improved significantly in 9 years.

Number 12

2009 Grand Champion Bred by Yamatoya Koi Farm

2009 Grand Champion
Bred by Yamatoya Koi Farm

 

I first saw this Koi the previous year when it was suggested as a contender.  On that occasion her sumi was very unfinished. Whilst she figured in the early rounds of voting she was soon dropped.

In 2009 she returned as a very different Koi, her sumi complete.

A very nice Koi but the only point through the Grand Champion voting when she won a vote was the final ballot when she was head to head with the 2010 Grand Champion pictured above and won the title by 44 votes to 41.


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