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"Asagi, a Subtle Beauty"
By Joel Burkard/Pan Intercorp

The Asagi is one of the oldest varieties of Nishikigoi with its origins dating back to the 1800's. This ancient "grandmother" of Nishikigoi provided the gene pool for many subsequent varieties such as Koromo, Goshiki, Matsuba, Shusui and Kujaku, just to name a few.

With such an impressive history, one would think that the Asagi would hold a special place of honor at koi shows and in the eyes of koi keepers. The reality is, that she is most often relegated to the combined Asagi/Shusui class, which is seldom a contender for the major awards.

The beauty of an Asagi is a subtle beauty, an understatement of reticulated blue netting, offset by just a hint of reddish orange.

Mr. Tarohiko Kodama of Takasaki, purchased this Asagi as a 5 inch yearling at his local koi club "exchange fair" for the princely sum of $35.00. As a yearling, the Asagi had virtually no net pattern, completely red pectoral fins, and a gray head with a yellow nose. Definitely not the attributes one would seek in a Tategoi!

Asagi yearling, 5 inches Asagi 6 months later, 13 inches Asagi 3 years old, 20 inches Asagi 5 years old

Mr. Kodama kept his Asagi in a cement pond at his home. Within 6 months, it had grown to 13 inches and undergone some remarkable changes. The red in the pectoral fins had receded into a classic "moto aka" (basic red) pattern, and a slight hint of red started to appear at the top of the gill plates. The gray and yellow on the head had faded, leaving a white background that extended from the nose to the tail. Last but not least, the gray on the back had begun to consolidate into the middle of each scale, forming the very beginning of the Asagi trademark "net" pattern.

The third photo shows the Asagi at age three, measuring just shy of 20 inches. Her body has filled out impressively, providing a broad base for the nearly finished net pattern on her back. The red has encircled the gill plates and a touch of red has appeared at the base of both the dorsal and tail fins.

The fourth and final photo shows Mr. Kodama's Asagi at age 5 in all her glory as Champion 58bu Asagi in the 14th All Japan Young Koi Show. It is important to note that this koi was reared in Mr. Kodama's cement pond without the benefit of any sojourn in a mud pond during the growing seasons, which may explain a slight deterioration in her finishing.

As you can see in this final photo, the red has disappeared at the base of the dorsal fin, and has begun to recede even further into the base of the pectoral fins. We can also notice a "shimi" or dark freckle, developing in the net pattern at the shoulder.

All in all, Mr. Kodama agrees that the finishing on his Asagi was better as a three year old than as a five year old, and that she could definitely benefit from a summer in a natural pond. He also admits that this was by far the best $35.00 investment that he ever made.


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