This post originally appears in January 2016, prior to that years All Japan Koi Show. I has subsequently been updated January 2020 to include some more Sanke that have appeared between 2016 and 2019 at the All Japan Koi Show.
In 2002 ‘Yuhi’, a 101cm Sanke bred by Matsunosuke was awarded the Grand Champion prize at the 34th All Japan Koi Show. She was the first, and still only, Grand Champion in excess of the mythical 1m mark at the Shinkokai All Japan Combined Nishikigoi Show. She was the 14th Sanke to have been awarded the prize in 34 years. She was also the last Sanke to be awarded the prize, in the 12 competitive All Japan Combined Nishikigoi Shows to have taken place since the title has been won on 5 occasions by Showa, and on 7 occasions by Kohaku.
Whilst no Sanke may have won the title since 2002 there have been some memorable Sanke that have appeared, here are some from the last 10 years that stick in my mind for one reason or another. All of these Koi have competed in the 2 largest size classes, therefore have or could have competed for the GC prize.
Tried desperately to find my own picture of this Koi but without success, thankfully my good friend Jane Maneerat came to the rescue as this is one Sanke that I wouldn’t want to leave out. This Sanke, bred by Momotaro Koi Farm, won a number of prizes culminating in Best in Variety in 2008 when in the 90bu size class. Prior to that it had won Mature Champion in 2006 and 85bu Kokugyo in 2007. Early in 2008 the Koi was exported from Japan and was awarded Grand Champion at the 1st Asia Cup show which was staged in Singapore.
In 2009 this Momotaro Sanke caused a stir when it was benched, and the rumour mill had been hot about it on the run up to the show. The Sanke was perhaps most memorable for its size, being around the 1m mark. This Sanke featured strongly in the GC voting, making it through to the 2nd round of voting (top 5) before being eliminated. I think at that time it just wasn’t Momotaro’s time to win the All Japan Koi Show, the eventual grand champion did not win a single ballot until the 3rd and final one which it won by 44 to 41 votes. She would win the 2009 ZNA Koi Show GC prize the following November.
This impressive Sanke first came on to my radar so to speak at the 2010 AJKS, she was entered into the 90bu class, although that particular show was won in a landslide by the Dainichi Kohaku owned by Masao Kato. This picture was taken in 2011 and I very much had her as a major challenger to M-Legend. When it came down to voting M-Legend and Nogami’s ‘Pandora’ Kohaku dominated the 1st ballot and the choice for GC in the second ballot came between just those 2 Koi.
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This Sanke, photographed in 2011, as the one above, had also competed at the 2010 All Japan Koi Show where it had actually been awarded the Best in Variety Sanke prize, amongst some very serious competition. The Koi below was also at the 2010 show. In terms of GC potential she was a little small, sadly 2011 was her last year.
This picture was again taken at the 2011 All Japan Koi Show, a Sanke that had been awarded the runner up prize at the 2007 Wakagoi Show so had been on the scene a few years. An impressive Koi, but in the competition of the 2 above which it competed head to head with rather lacked in quality and refinement.
This is perhaps the most famous, and highest achieving of all the Sanke posted here. This picture was taken in 2011 when she was awarded the Best in Variety prize. In 2009 she won the Mature Champion prize, in 2012 she also won the Best in Variety prize. A truly fabulous Sanke.
Another incredibly famous Sanke that just makes it into the size criteria of 85bu to appear here. This Koi is another that had a fairly long career, first being runner up at the 2010 Wakagoi Show and following with Mature Champion 2011 All Japan Koi Show, 2014 85bu Kokugyo prize. In 2014 she was too small to challenge for GC, and that was to be her last show.
This Sanke was awarded Superior Champion at the 2013 All Japan Koi Show, at that time in the 80bu class. Entered in 90bu in 2015 she was in my top 5 for the GC title, but really an outside bet. When it came down to voting 2 Kohaku had amassed over half of the available votes between them and the final decision for GC taken between those 2. In 2016 she was awarded Best in Variety prize, that was her last appearance.
This Sanke first appeared in 90bu at the 2016 All Japan Koi Show. She was among some pretty serious competition that year. She returned the following year and got a mention among my top candidates at the show, although only as a suggestion for Best in Variety. She was in fact awarded the ‘Jumbo A’ award. She was perhaps most recognisable for her massive body, something that had many questioning whether she was simply too fat. Later in 2017 this Sanke was successful at winning the ZNA Grand Champion title, something which elevated her standing when she returned to Tokyo in 2018. In the final ballot for Grand Champion she lost 47-32 votes, the closest I’ve seen to any Sanke being Grand Champion since first attending the show in 2006.
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This Sanke debuted in 90bu class at the 2019 All Japan Koi Show as the reigning ZNA All Japan Grand Champion, a title it had won the previous November. There were 25 90bu female Gosanke entered, 6 of which were Sanke. A hugely difficult year to challenge, this Sanke was awarded best in variety, although technically there was another 90bu Sanke judged higher and awarded Kokugyo. This would be the only appearance for this Sanke at this level as news broke at the end of 2019 that she had died.
As I am sure you will agree there have been some truly superb Sanke displayed over recent years, sadly all seemingly lacking that little something sufficient to elevate them to the ultimate prize of Grand Champion.
Whether 2020 will see the first Sanke to take Grand Champion since 2002 only time will tell….