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Long-Term Development
By Joel Burkard/Pan Intercorp

How often do we get to witness the long-term development of a koi? Even in this day and age when owners are keeping more careful pictorial histories of their charges, it is a rare treat indeed to see a chronicle that spans over the course of a dozen years.

This incredible Showa was bred in Niigata by Hashino Fish Farm and purchased as a 22” three-year old by Mr. Katsuhiro Ito of Chiba Prefecture. Although the photo is less than perfect, the inherent quality of this koi is apparent in its bold red and black, which are set against a strikingly white field.

During its fourth year, Mr. Ito’s Showa was boarded as Hosokai Fish Farm in Niigata where it grew to about 25”. At this point it was entered in the 23rd Rinyukai Koi Show at the Tokyo Dome where it took 1st place 65 Bu Showa. Here we can clearly see that the sumi (black) has become markedly more pronounced without sacrificing any of its intensity, while the red and while have remained largely untouched.


Examples
22 Inch 3 year old. 25 Inch 4 year old. Took 1st place 65 BU Showa at the 23rd Rinyukai Koi Show. Just over 27 Inches 7 year old. Runner up Champion 70 BU Showa at the 26th All Japan Show

The third photo shows our subject at 7 years old and 27” at the 26th All Japan Show where it placed Runner-up Champion 70 Bu Showa. This photo clearly shows the progression of sumi, which is more often than not accelerated by keeping a Showa in a concrete pond.

Two years later, we can see that the sumi has advanced even further when at 9 years old, this koi took Grand Champion at the 26th Chiba Koi Show. Her sumi and beni (red) now fully established and with a body conformation that leaves nothing to be desired, this koi is truly a paragon of long-term koi keeping. Mr. Ito had managed to grow and improve his koi every year since its purchase.

During the five years following the Rinyukai Show, Mr. Ito kept his prize winning Showa in his concrete pond at his residence, where he was able to grow it to a size of just over 29”. This growth in itself is an impressive feat that would indicate Mr. Ito’s koi keeping skills are well above average.

One would expect this story to end here. After all, where can one go after Grand Champion? Well, it appears that Mr. Ito was not quite done with “finishing” his Showa.


Examples
9 year old Grand Champion at the 26th Chiba Koi Show. 31.5 Inch 12 year old Grand Champion at the 29th Chiba Koi Show.

In an attempt to curb the rapid progression of black, and in hopes of achieving just a little more growth, Mr. Ito boarded his Showa with Hanajima Fish Farm in a 25,000 gallon pond for a couple of years.

The results were apparent at the 29th Chiba Koi Show where once again, this amazing koi was awarded the highest of honors, Grand Champion. Now an impressive 31 ˝” and 12 years old, this koi displays a body conformation that one would expect to see on a Kohaku instead of a Showa. Her skin still retains it’s youthful luster while her black has receded, allowing a better appreciation of the beautiful deep red pattern.

It’s interesting to note that this Showa, a champion many times over, has achieved her fame without any of the textbook traits that are often expected on a Showa.


Examples

No Motoguro: (Diag. A) Black at the base of the pectoral fins
No Ichimatsumoyo: (Diag. B) Checkerboard pattern
No Hachiware: (Diag. C) Shaped black at the back of the head
No Katazumi: (Diag. D) Black at the shoulder
No real Menware: (Diag. E) Diagonal black line between the eyes

Further proof that we need to be willing to look beyond traditional preconceptions to fully appreciate the experience that is Nishikigoi.

 

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