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Friday, October 24, 2014

These just in.

Offer expires tomorrow.

Breeder Isa. Showa. Female.

This is a nice example of tategoi type potential Koi vs more 'here and now' more finished Koi.

Take a close look and decide which two are more tategoi type and which two are more 'here and now' type. These are all very high quality expensive Koi from one of the big hitters in Showa breeding in Japan - Isa is very, very highly regarded and many of his lines are famously used in other very well known breeders (Sakai, Dainichi being among them). 


OK the more tategoi pairing are B and D. It's close actually with A being an exceptionally good fish as it is here already. But B and D are going to take longer to present their finished pattern in my opinion. A and C still have some way to go but they present better on the day and hence are slightly more here and now in my opinion.

All of these fish have a great future ahead of them. D will take a hobbyist to the edge of what Koi keeping is about - you will need skills with this fish and perhaps just a little luck. The breeder doesn;t agree with me - this is the most expensive of the lot at JPY400k.

Runner up is... Fish C - also at JPY 400k. Fish B follows at JPY 300k matched with fish A at JPY 300k.

Some of the finest two year old Showa from this years harvest. Of course there will be better and more expensive Koi but these are without doubt show quality and best of all they have some way to go - meaning that in a few years an astute hobbyist will find themselves with a fish capable of giving a serious run at the SGC title. I love these sort of Koi - right at the edge of the hobby in terms of where a champion can be spotted and then taken to the finals in a few years.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Japan Trip 2014 Special Offer # Box 3

Fish Box #3

Breeder Otsuka

Some of these Shiro Utsuri are sold. You can see why - the quality of these Koi is very high indeed. All are female.

I chose these fish and oddly these were the best value for money Shiro Utsuri we came across on the whole trip. These were selected off the back of the truck as they arrived from the mud ponds and the reason I chose them was for the awesome sumi that was already darkening in the ponds and of course the superb white. They are fantastic Shiro Utsuri.

There are five in the bowl but we could only ship four. Pick the one you would have left behind and see from the next picture if you agree with my choice. It was not an easy one!

 To keep it all clear the fish with the black dot on the nose - Black Dot for it's name is Subject To Confirmation for a customer as it exceeds his prepaid budget by a factor of two.

The fish on the left is sold.  As is the one on the bottom right as it turns out. Which leaves the fish top right. And it's a cracker of a Shiro.

We paid JPY40k each for them and even that was a bit of a haggle and a good price for 'first pick'. This translates into a selling price of R7600.00. They are between 35 and 40cm in size and are two year old fish.

This is a once off price for early birds. When the fish have cleared quarantine and go up for sale in our retail ponds the price will escalate to R10 to R12k.

Japan Trip 2014 Special Offer # Box 2

Fish Box #2

Breeder Otsuka

All for sale with the exception of the Kujaku which has been sold. Tancho Now also sold.

This is a selection of good quality Koi from Otuska. Sex of the Tancho is probably female (now sold). The Kohaku is male but with a pattern like that it's forgiven. The ginrin Orenji is sublime and the Ki Utsuri is a rare fish that is considerably cheaper than the price of others we saw at the same breeder (who incidentally is probably the only breeder breeding these with any measure of success).

Sex of the Koi is unknown - with the Tancho probably being female (now sold) and the Kohaku male. The other two we're not sure of so take them as being male for now. The Kohaku in particular I chose for the supreme pattern - if it doesn't do well at a Koi show I'll eat my hat. The ginrin orenji I chose for it's size and body - I think this fish is female and it ought to grow enormous. The Ki Utsuri is a good quality fish without being outrageously over priced.

We paid JPY25k each for these fish which translates into the special selling price of R5000. They are between 30cm and 38cm in size and are two year old fish.

This is a once off price for early birds. When the fish have cleared quarantine and go up for sale in our retail ponds the price will escalate to R6000.00 to R7000.00.

Japan Trip 2014 Special Offer # Box 1

Fish Box #1

Breeder Kaneko

Tancho Kujaku and Goshiki (male) for sale.

In this pictures below the Kujaku we did not buy in the end. The fish for sale are the goshiki in the middle and the tancho kujaku directly below it. 

 In this picture it is the goshiki and the tancho Kujaku above it and to the right.

In this picture the tancho kujaku is the one with the tail in its face(!).

In this picture the tancho kujaku is the fish right at the top of the bowl and probably best reflects the quality of the fish, which is awesome.

The sex of the goshiki as mentioned is male. The tancho kujaku we suspect as being female.

I chose the goshiki to come home with us for a few reasons. Firstly I have had excellent success with "kohaku" that later "become" goshiki. Our water is hard and tends to bring out sumi too quickly if the goshiki already has sumi apparent. Secondly, for a male fish the body is good and thirdly the hi pattern on the fish is very good. When the sumi starts to appear I believe this fish will really be quite striking and I will double it's selling price (!) :-)

These fish cost us JPY20k each which translates into a selling price of R4000.00. They are between 33 and 38cm in size and are two year old fish.

This is a once off price for early birds. When the fish have cleared quarantine and go up for sale in our retail ponds the price will escalate to R5000.00.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Girl trip thoughts

Perhaps the girls should travel with the boys. There is plenty to see and do in Tokyo for a few days whilst the boys do their Koi thing in Niigata. It will be an interesting contest to see who spends the most I think. 

The bullet trains continue to impress. Despite the annoying loud Yanks at the back of this train, we have three and a half hours from Himeji back to Tokyo. It's quick despite this not being the super express which does only the major stops.

For those of us with small children Japan represents a real challenge. Two days travel either way really eats into your trip time and the length of time needed to really see Japan is really tricky to manage. Over the years I have slowly reduced Koi buying time to what is needed as opposed to what we think we need, but even so I think I can improve somewhat. A minimum trip is going to be around ten days, a big ask for small children to put up with. Still, it can be done I think if the planning is done with military precision. This is something that can be achieved in Japan, thanks to the incredible precision the country runs with. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014


A special gift

I was given this book by the president of Kamihata Group (Hikari). He autographed it for me and although he is now 88 he still comes into work every day and climbs 4 flights of stairs to his office. 

I have started reading it already and within the first few pages I can see the stoicism of the Japanese combined with a genuine adventurer at heart. 

Some of his insights are hilarious and accurate to the point of almost stinging. I catch myself chuckling often with my mind thinking 'that's a typical Japanese way of thinking or doing X or Y'. Am looking forward to devouring the rest of the book on the plane trip home. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Departing Kyoto for Himeji

Walked the streets of Kyoto quite a bit now. It is so clean you could eat off the pavements. Shop keepers vacuum their pavements. The Kyoto market was a wow - a definite must see. We did the golden pavilion yesterday and chatted to all the school kids. We were also interviewed by university students for a research project. Ha ha the less said about that the better! Lunch was Thai. Most authentic meal so far. For supper we hunted Indian, but failed and the best thing we ever did was to ditch the mall restaurant and jump into a cab and tell the driver to take us somewhere local. Predictably he took us to a safe sterile type place so after he drove off we skipped that too, spotted a dumpling place and ended up in a local wild game fowl speciality place. It was unbelievable. - we had a really special meal with plenty of laughing, red wine, beer and some of the best food I have had in Japan. It was truly memorable. Am definitely going back there when I am next in Kyoto! 

The train station remains one of the most amazing buildings I have ever been in. The sense of space is staggering. I want everyone to experience it - watching people's expressions as they take it all in gives me a kick!!

Peeling back the layers of Japan - the Trip for Girls

The survival guide to Japan

1. Small suitcase. The one size up from carry on luggage. We will be travelling girls and you will need to man handle your own case. The stations get busy.

2. Pack it light. Pack your own soap in its own travel box as the hotels all use these pump bottle things for body wash, shampoo and conditioner. It is always excellent quality as you will come to expect from everything in Japan but some people prefer a bar of soap.

3. Comfortable walking shoes. Super mega NB. We're not doing the Groot Trek by any means but we will be walking more than perhaps you may be used to. Especially sight seeing - most of it is done on foot.

4.  Baths in the hotel vary from massively small to incredibly tiny. Not important - just thought I'd chuck that in for amusement.

5. We normally stay in the more affordable hotels - singles can expect to pay between JPY 7500 and JPY 9500 per night. Some hotels are as low as JPY6000 and we really don't spend much time in them. Room sizes vary but they are not large. The one I am in at the moment requires me to step outside to change my mind.

6. Breakfasts are mostly included. Toast is not big in Japan. But you will not go hungry, even if you have to fill up on just fruit and juice.

7. Food in general varies as it would in SA. The wine is simply shocking unless you get to a good restaurant where a bottle will set you back around JPY2500 to JPY3500. We try to eat well in Japan, and head prices will vary from around JPY2500 to JPY 6000 (for a really big night out) including drinks. Beer is super expensive - around JPY450 to as much as JPY750 for a big draught. Without exception beer drinkers have Japanese beer to be excellent quality however.

8. Normal cash spend on odds and sods - snacks, what have you - I'd budget JPY5000 a day  - that ought to give you some wiggle room. Clothes, hand bags, shoes and the like are probably best addressed using plastic - and handbags at JPY200k are not uncommon in the more upmarket department stores. If you want to shop, Japan will give you one of the best experiences you will ever have - that much I can promise you. 

The Trip for Girls that I have the rough outlines for is a simple one. The boys will fly out two nights ahead of the Girls (optionally - you may want your better half bored out of her skull in Niigata) where we will visit breeders, do the Koi thing and generally get a sense of Koi buying in Japan. On day three I will head back to Narita, collect the girls and we all head off back up to Niigata, and the girls can then spend one day with us to see what is what and why we boys do what we do when buying fish. No prices will be quoted so the boys can relax! :-) So we get three full days in Niigata.

Then my thinking is to head off to Kyoto - you will need half a day to travel there and we can do some sight seeing that day. Overnight in the hotel, and then the next day a full day in Kyoto to shop, see the sights, and etc.

Then I think we should head off to Hiroshima. That will be another half day's travel and I think two nights there as well would be good. I also think it might be an idea to see if we can take in some of the fish farms in the South for the boys so everyone can see what is what there. A trip to the bomb site and the likes would obviously also come into it.

We can then all fly back to Jhb via Kansai which is only more or less a half days travel out of Hiroshima.

These are rough brush broadstrokes at this stage but I have wanted to put together such a trip for ages. A day or two in Tokyo in the Ginza district and Akihabra are also something I'd like to work in - so I will see what we can do in that regard.

I'm thinking of putting the tour together in a similar fashion to our MG Indabas. It makes it more affordable - well, easier to budget for and to plan as we go. I'm excited!

On our way to Kyoto

Ditched our agent. Now on our way to Kyoto. Dinner last night was western style. We aimed for steak and hamburgers. We ended up with a considerable quantity of beer. 

It was good fun and despite the mild hangover this morning we are in good spirits. It is so useful to travel light on the trains that I think I will make it a hard and fast rule for future trips. Weather today is awesome so the typhoon turned out to be a bit of a damp squib for us thankfully. 

Maybe we will have an earth quake instead but these things are not worth hoping for. We learned that Japan has an early warning SMS system about incoming quakes. Apparently it gives you about a minutes warning which may. It sound like much but I guess it's better than nothing at all. 

Have also not watched any Japanese game shows on TV yet - we've been too busy/tired up until now. I'll post pics of Kyoto as we get them. For now some pics of the latest koi purchases...

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

More Japan

Good end to the day yesterday, picked up two of the best torazo female nissai kohaku I have seen. Both sold before I even got the price! And they were such good value I honestly couldn't believe my eyes. Could have easily doubled the asking price, but still that's the way it goes I suppose. My customer is delighted! 

Trains and the Internet

Useful to know they now have wifi on the trains. Trying to find the right network is proving tricky! There must be about 30 wifi networks available! 

Monday, October 13, 2014

 Japan is not just about fish - this is a present for our agent. He's partial to chocolates and so far the bribe seems to be working more or less OK. Pricing has been reasonably good this far and the results fish wise have been excellent.

The gate to the shrine. I love these - there is an elegance to them that is uniquely Japanese. 

Our agent. Wouldn't be too far off  in a chair on the stoep in the Free State....

Fish have to eat as well. Typical Japanese - engineered to last forever. Built to take a typhoon - guess we'll be testing that soon enough...

Japanese whiskey. Delicious. Easily comparable to the best in the world. 

Japanese white wine. Awful. Terrible. Easily comparable to the worst in the world - the sweet white wines from the Rhine region in Germany which should just be banned as toxic drugs.

Tea. The endless cups of tea. Everywhere you go - if you are a tea fanatic, Japan is your Mecca. I swear sometimes that they drug the stuff - it is so super insanely popular people choose it over Coca Cola. I just never will understand it.

Japan 2014

Wow. After an hour of convincing stupid Google, sorry, make that bloody stupid Google, that in fact just because I am in Japan that doesn't mean that all of a sudden I understand the language (it changed all the blog menus to Japanese!) I am finally back!

Some pics of Japan thus far...

First beer on the trip - just off the plane - 24 hours worth of plane... This beer sank down like a homesick mole...(!)

 First few fish from Kaneko - two tanchos sold the top one still available and the kohaku is actually a goshiki. I took a chance on this fish - let's see if I'm right?

Up and down the stairs at a shrine. 

The roof is copper. Looks stunning in the sunlight!

 The good luck tree - people write their wishes on a peice of paper and that gets ties to the tree.

A selection of simply kick ass nissai. Really good fish these. 

Typical Niigata view of the mud ponds - it's really pretty here!

Tancho Showa. Three year old Koi - we were offered it at JPY400k which sounds like a lot but for a fish like this it's good value. Sakai would probably get a few million at auction. The breeder subsequently sold it an hour after we left - I'm not surprised in the slightest. 

Tancho Sanke - expensive fish but the Showa in the bowl as Nissai was JPY250k! Stunning fish but we declined with thanks. 

Much better fish! JPY25k each and good value. 

Best shiro's I've seen in ages. JPY40k a pop - stunning. 

Mixed bowl of some smaller Koi - I wanted a good clean female chag  and I picked up a few others  - some Ki Utsuri in there which are uber rare and from one breeder only. 

Best ginrin goshiki I have seen in ages. All female - and we added the harawake which is lustre to die for. The ginrin kohaku is a cracker - I think that fish has serious jumbo potential. Tancho sanke speaks for itself. 

The find of the trip - doitsu from Shinoda - the quality of which I have not seen in ages. Stunning!

I had to take a second box of these. Might even try and go back and get another two but I didnt want to push my luck there too much.

More Ki Utsuri - this time straight out of the mud pond and into my open arms. We stole the best four fish - and within half an hour the sumi was already starting to thicken. Whoo hoo!

Hasegawa theft - only way I can describe it. Super quality fish with a Showa that I think will surprise in a few years. It's a great punt at JPY20k. 

 My old friend Yamazaki - still popping out flashy jewels. Snapped these suckers up as fast as I could - he had only harvested one small mud pond. Karashigoi he says will be a big fish. Errm, yes, of course it will!

Kase. I was hoping for doitsu ochiba. Denied! So I got my own back and stole, literally, these tancho showa. Buttered him up by picking some goshiki, establishing the price and then loaded up on these! It was late so I think he just gave in eventually to get rid of us. A very nice bowl of Koi - I'm super happy.

And so I added another bowl! Found two kumonryo lurking in the pond and over the years we've had super success with these fish from him. My customer with me on the trip cannot understand why I "bought those rubbishy fish" so I may have to sell him one so that he can see for himself! They're absolutely stunning - can't wait for the white to settle on the heads and that sumi start to pop up. The one fish already has an underlying pattern so it won't be long now before it pops out. And the small fish was a gift - free of charge. Again, I think, to get rid of us if I'm perfectly honest!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

More koi

Hiroi. Ginrin. Kohaku jpy 50k. Female, other fish sold. Stunning koi. 

Fish for today

IWow, fish everywhere. Being early has its merits but equally the prices are not cheap. But the quality is there like crazy. 

Yagenji jpy 40k each. 

To work out landed cost ie the price you will pay divide the jpy figure by 5. This will give you a reasonable indication on the slightly conservative side. 

These fish jpy20k each

Otsuka jpy 25k each

Otsuka jpy7k each, mixed koi 

Otaku a shiro utsuri, all female, stunning, jpy 40k each