In the first part of this article – Kujaku in Detail – Part 1 – The Beginnings – I wrote, ‘If there is any variety which lives up to the name ‘Living Jewel’ then surely Kujaku can stake as great a claim as any. The complex combination of two metallic colours with a covering of matsuba scaling which when viewed in close up detail matches that of any gemstone.’

I was interested to hear from 2 good friends, and Koi dealers, Mike Snaden of Yume Koi and Gary Smith of Gatwick Koi, with their thoughts on what make Kujaku a variety of particular interest to them.

Mike wrote, ‘Well, for me, Kujaku are interesting, because the way that they develop is that they are challenging to choose when small. When breeding Kujaku, a breeder will be looking primarily for good metallic lustre. But, the ones that grow up to become nice Kujaku, are those that have a really dark appearance when small. This is because, at that stage in life, the matsuba needs to be dark/strong, yet the fukurin will be very thin. As Kujaku grow up, the fukurin gets thicker, and it’s this development that causes the stark contrast between the bright Fukurin and dark matsuba scales. It’s all to often that a hobbyist will see a young Kujaku, only to find that when it grows up, the matsuba effect is simply too pale, or sometimes non-existent. A good Kujaku will have strong metallic lustre throughout the head and body, and also to the tips of all the fins. Matsuba effect should be strong, clean, and deeply wrapping, with bright contrasting fukurin. Aside from the technical points mentioned above, it’s also challenging to find one with the right body type to grow up big, with a decent body. But, this just makes the variety even more of a challenge…’
Close up showing the scale and Fukurin detail on a high class Kujaku

Close up showing the scale and Fukurin detail on a high class Kujaku

Gary wrote, ‘One of the main reasons i like Kujaku, is one of the reasons some don’t! The make up of a Kujaku to me is much more involved than in other varieties. Starting like everything else you need the pattern, then you need a uniform colour from from to back all with the same intensity. That colour then must have a metalic lustre which makes this variety so nice. Also the Kujaku must have the white skin to much the lustre of the colour. For me you MUST have a clean head, no black marks or metallic markings that you can get. Of course then you must have the reticulation which must be even and the same colour all over. Oh, and its nice if you get clean pecs as well!!!!! All these for me are needed to get a good kujaku, and thats not even considering body shape which in this variety can be a little plump at times. So not always easy to find VERY good kujaku at affordable prices!!!!’
Black markings on the head, and colour in the pecs, two distractions for Gary

Black markings on the head, and colour in the pecs, two distractions for Gary

In this second part of the article ‘Kujaku in Detail’ we’ll look at Kujaku appreciation, including all of the points raised by Mike and Gary.  As I’m sure you can appreciate from how they both wrote, Kujaku have a multi faceted complexity to say the least, and like anything with such complexity, getting it all to come together is extremely difficult and rare.  Invariably the hobbyist will need to make a compromise somewhere, or get very very lucky……

To start we’ll take a look at something which Mike touched upon, and that is the selection process that breeders have to make with baby Kujaku.


Makoto Konishi

Makoto Konishi

Kujaku fry selection – from a breeders’ perspective

Back in 2010 Rinko magazine featured an interview with Makoto Konishi, now the 4th generation and Senior MD at Konishi Koi Farm which has a history of 100 years (founded in 1919).  The interview was entitled ‘Aiming at farming Koi with great potential in size’.  As of 2010 Konishi Koi Farm bred Kujaku had won best in variety at 5 consecutive All Japan Koi Shows, very much cementing their position as a leading producer of the variety.

At that time Makoto detailed 2 main bloodlines being used at Konishi Koi Farm; one the original line that had produced All Japan champions, and a line of Niigata bred Kujaku used for the first time.  He goes on to explain what they look for in parent Kujaku, ‘First of all we attach importance to their figure. Secondly, orderly arranged beautiful mesh pattern of scales, called ‘mame’, along with refined beni and strong platinum sheen.  We have also crossed two other couples as an experimental basis.’


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Whilst not giving too much away Makoto continues, ‘As you know, there are other Kujaku farmers who are competing with other to produce beautiful Kujaku.  However, the number of large Kujaku is still limited.  We are trying to produce larger Kujaku while maintaining their current beauty.’

Asked what his ideal Kujaku is Makoto replies, ‘As I mentioned previously we are aiming to breed larger Kujaku with beautiful amime (netting) pattern, strong lustre of the body and refined hi quality.  Can you imagine the impact of the Kujaku over over 80cm in length.’

In the same interview Makoto advises, ‘At the first culling operation we select young fish according to their figure and sheen of their scales since there usually are not any clear patterns of markings.  Short and plump body shape is no good.’

Whilst Makoto Konishi was somewhat guarded in the Rinko interview back in 2010, it is now known the the path being taken by Konishi Koi Farm was to create a bloodline of Kujaku with Karashigoi mixed in.  Of course Konishi Koi Farm Karashigoi, a variety they originally created, are known for their enormous size potential, with examples reaching over 120cm in length with massive (but streamlined) body shapes.  Makoto may aspire to 80cm impactful Kujaku, imagine one over 1m in length with all the other qualities to boot……

In trying to understand Kujaku selection and development, we are incredibly fortunate that Makoto Konishi is an avid Facebook user and freely shares updates on what is happening at Konishi Koi Farm, including the sharing of photos of fry at the selection stage.  This year he’s shared the fry from 2 Kujaku spawning that they’ve undertaken.

Konishi Set 1 2019


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Makoto wrote, ‘Female parent is 5 years old Kujaku of next generation(our main blood line).  Male parent kujaku of Karashi blood line who we used from last year(4 years old).’  Interestingly looking further back on Makoto’s Facebook we can see that these males were used together with the female in the second set below in 2018.

Kujaku Parents - May 25th 2019

Kujaku Parents – May 25th 2019

31st July 2019, Makoto wrote and shared the images below, ‘Kujaku 1st selection (Born in 2019) – This combination emphasized body and hikari (shiny quality)…so I did not expected about pattern. But contrary to expectations there are many koi of good pattern.  Also good hikari quality.  I am looking forward next selection.’

Konishi Koi Farm - 1st selection Kujaku - 31st July 2019

Konishi Koi Farm – 1st selection Kujaku – 31st July 2019

Konishi Koi Farm - 1st selection Kujaku - 31st July 2019

Konishi Koi Farm – 1st selection Kujaku – 31st July 2019

Konishi Koi Farm - 1st selection Kujaku - 31st July 2019

Konishi Koi Farm – 1st selection Kujaku – 31st July 2019

4th September 2019, Makoto wrote and posted the following pictures, ‘Tosai Kujaku 3rd selection.  If it goes smoothly like this, we can keep many amount☺️.  Overall, the koi with good hikari stands out.  I’m looking forward to the next selection👍’

Konishi Koi Farm - 3rd selection Kujaku - 4th September 2019

Konishi Koi Farm – 3rd selection Kujaku – 4th September 2019

Konishi Koi Farm - 3rd selection Kujaku - 4th September 2019

Konishi Koi Farm – 3rd selection Kujaku – 4th September 2019

Konishi Koi Farm - 3rd selection Kujaku - 4th September 2019

Konishi Koi Farm – 3rd selection Kujaku – 4th September 2019

28th September, Makoto wrote and posted the following pictures, ‘Tosai Kujaku 4th selection.  Good development of scales😄’

Konishi Koi Farm - 4th selection Kujaku - 28th September 2019

Konishi Koi Farm – 4th selection Kujaku – 28th September 2019

Konishi Koi Farm - 4th selection Kujaku - 28th September 2019

Konishi Koi Farm – 4th selection Kujaku – 28th September 2019

Konishi Set 2 2019

This set, it would seem, was spawned around the same time as the previous set, selections have been done a few days before those of the fry above.  According to Makoto’s Facebook post, ‘Female parent is main blood line used from old days. Male parent is beni kujaku of Karashi blood line(3 years)’.  As mentioned, in 2018 this female parent was used with the males from the parent set above.


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26th July 2019, Makoto posted the following images stating, ‘Kujaku 1st selection.  I like their atmosphere.’

Konishi Koi Farm - 1st selection Kujaku - 26th July 2019

Konishi Koi Farm – 1st selection Kujaku – 26th July 2019

Konishi Koi Farm - 1st selection Kujaku - 26th July 2019

Konishi Koi Farm – 1st selection Kujaku – 26th July 2019

28th August 2019, Makoto wrote and posted the following images, ‘Tosai Kujaku 3rd selection.  Pattern is not bad, but they are fast growing and have a thick red beni.  There are many [Tategoi] type.  They are my favorite type.  Looking forward to the future…..’

Konishi Koi Farm - 3rd selection Kujaku - 28th August 2019

Konishi Koi Farm – 3rd selection Kujaku – 28th August 2019

Konishi Koi Farm - 3rd selection Kujaku - 28th August 2019

Konishi Koi Farm – 3rd selection Kujaku – 28th August 2019

4th October 2019, Makoto posted the latest update and photos of the 2019 tosai, ‘Tosai Kujaku 4th selection.  Anyway, there are many red crimson fishes, and the scales are black at this stage.  It seems to be a powerful Kujaku when it is become jumbo.  Looking forward to the future.’

Konishi Koi Farm - 4th selection Kujaku - 4th October 2019

Konishi Koi Farm – 4th selection Kujaku – 4th October 2019

Konishi Koi Farm - 4th selection Kujaku - 4th October 2019

Konishi Koi Farm – 4th selection Kujaku – 4th October 2019

 

Back in June 2019 Makoto posted the following 2 images to Facebook.


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Konishi Jumbo tosai Kujaku - June 15th 2019

Konishi Jumbo tosai Kujaku – June 15th 2019

Konishi Jumbo tosai Kujaku - June 15th 2019

Konishi Jumbo tosai Kujaku – June 15th 2019

Makoto wrote, ‘Tosai kujaku (Karashigoi blood line) final selection.  Average size is 45-47cm.  Most largest size 51cm👍  Cannot predict how many cm it will be in autumn…..’.

45-47cm is massive for any jumbo tosai, for Kujaku it’s simply enormous, the size of most breeders 2 year old fish.  The 2 year olds in the photos would have come from the combination of the female in the 2nd spawning set above, and the males from the 1st.  A potent combination it seems.


It’s very interesting that throughout the comments of Mike Snaden, Gary Smith and Mokoto Konishi, the common theme of shine, body, pattern and scalation.

This is further echoed in another Rinko article from back in 2006, Joji Konishi, President of Konishi Koi Farm and Makoto’s father, explained the ‘charms’ of Kujaku.  He stated, ‘In a word they lie in the black Fukurin called ‘Kuroi-Mame’ or black beans.   The black pigmentations appearing in the Fukurin is called ‘mame’ (beans).  In general we say, ‘this Kujaku has refined make’, so it is the beauty of mame that represents the charms of Kujaku.  Unfortunately it is rare for the mame to appear clearly and uniformly.

On the contrary, a Kujaku that has rather blur mame sometimes turns a splendid Kujaku with clear and uniform mame while keeping as a tategoi.

I sometimes encounter Kujaku without mame, but is hard for me to say they are truly beautiful Kujaku.  The idea Kujaku should have beautiful mame, clear edges of hi ground and lustre.  Of course it is [lustre] the most important.


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This is my opinion but Kujaku with plain white head of partially white head looks more unique and valuable because the white head works to make the entire body look more lustrous than menkaburi with red markings on the head.  

It is the white background not the red hi ground that makes the fish body look brighter.  Furthermore Kujaku with white head are more competitive.’

Konishi Koi Farm Kujaku continue to compete at the highest level, the Koi below was best in variety at the 2019 All Japan Koi Show.

Best in Variety Kujaku

Best in Variety Kujaku

On 14th November Makoto posted this example with the simple caption, ‘I love it…..’.   It would be hard to argue otherwise.

Konishi Kujaku

Konishi Kujaku

Konishi Koi Farm are not the only farm making strides forward with Kujaku.  In recent years both Marudo Koi Farm and Omosako Koi Farm have won the Best in Variety Kujaku prize at the All Japan Koi Show.  In 2019 an 80bu size class Kujaku bred by Omosako Koi Farm was awarded the overall Sakura Prize at the All Japan Koi Show, beating a larger 90bu Omosako Kujaku at the same time.

Kujaku Shubetsu Prize

Marudo Kujaku, Best in Variety AJKS 2016 and 2017

90bu Sakura Prize, Kujaku

Omosako Kujaku, 90bu Sakura Prize 2019 AJKS and Best in Variety 2018 AJKS

Best in Sakura and 80bu Sakura Prize, Kujaku

Omosako Kujaku, Best in Sakura and 80bu Sakura Prize at 2019 AJKS

 


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In the 3rd part of this article we’ll have a look at some the finer parts of appreciation, clarify some of the terminology and take a look at different variations of Kujaku, including new varieties which have originated from Kujaku parentage.

 

References and acknowledgements

We would like to thank Makoto Konishi for the images and text used in part of this article.  You kind find Makoto Konishi on Facebook at – https://www.facebook.com/makoto.konishi.961.  All image copyrights acknowledged.

Konishi Koi Farm’s website can be found at – http://www.nishikigoi.co.jp/  where you can find links to dealers of Konishi Koi in your area and more information about the farm.

We would also like to thank Rinko magazine for numerous references.  You can find more about Rinko magazine, and details of how to subscribe at – http://www.snkkoi.com/onlinerinkopdf/index.html


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