Today was supposed to be pack away and get to Tokyo and have a day doing the tourist thing , but the weather was so nice we decided to have a drive around the mountains instead , aand leave a little later .As much as id love to look around Tokyo its not much fun on your own , and I never tire of the views over the mountains . So we set off around ten thirty and visited the cake shop intent on returning some of the hospitality shown to us by Hinori and his wife , but he had already left for the coast to start putting koi back into the mudponds ( the ones there are much warmer earlier in the year ) So we sat and ate the cakes with Maruhiros wife while he had the lads were off working ! Today was never about working , just taking some time out , so we drove all over Mushigame and popped into a breeder we use quite a lot , he had lots of tosai left , but one pond really caught my attention , there were some very nice go sanke and other varietys , and a price was discussed for the whole lot , so I may take up that offer later tomorrow , hence while im not naming the breeder . After what seemed the umpteenth coffee we set off again sight seeing until I couldn’t put off the inevitable , and decieded to head towards the station .Half way down the mountain we met Tanaka going the other way , he said he would be back in five minutes and meet at his new facility for coffee , no sleep tonight then ! As we were round the corner from this tosai facility it wasn’t out of our way to stop and say goodbye . Once here I realised that we needed to ship the koi from the koi show , so Shigy said ill net the pond and we can take ten and add them to the other pond , sounded like a plan until it was noticed there was no seine net . Shigy said no problem , only ten we can catch them with normal nets , 45 minutes and two litres of sweat and some random swearing in Engish and Japanese the job was done . These koi houses are like saunas come the end of April , glad I wont be here in May ! Tanaka farm specialises in selling high class tosai , you select if you can pay , no problem at all , and I love his koi , they have great skin quality and are getting serious body shapes , major player very soon I suspect ! Looking through two smaller ponds , there were some amazing examples of high class tosai , all go sanke and gin rin go sanke , a bowled a sanke around 25cm and stunning , with sumi through already like a balck gloss , brilliant pattern and great for a koi show , the Nagaoka show was discussed , no good Gary san , this will go through 50 cm may be , 45cm cut off for the size you are looking for . So with heavy heart I placed it back and asked about a showa I saw in the pond , a price was given and bowled straight away , I couldn’t believe it , this koi was amazing , Shigy asked what I would do with it , I replied I don’t care ill buy it ,Once I calmed down Shigy explained how good the koi was , he really did rate the koi as we all did , and im sorry , for once in my life , im not going to sell this koi , not just yet anyway , its going back into the mudond this summer , and ill decide its future then , also when it may be possible to sex it ! Shigy added that fatal phrase , its all about the sumi on this one , I laughed and said isn’t it always , he then showed me what he thought and hoped what would happen , if it does this koi has endless possibilities , and I couldn’t think of a better way to end the trip . Ill add my thoughts as usual when im back in the uk . Thanks as ever for having a read of my trip , hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!

Awoke today to a massive hangover , and a new found respect for saki . It’s a nice drink and goes down well , but never mix it with beer said the guy at the hotel when he saw I was suffering , horses and barn doors come to mind ! Any way I was up and ready to go to Hosakai for an early appointment as we had to be back to the show for the presentation ceremony . Once at the farm we started bowling koi from a few different ponds and soon had 12 nisai 40-50cm and all female except a doitsu goshiki and a showa . Four kohakus were bought first and the skin on a few of them was amazing , a few nice showa one of which the breeder mentioned would get to 90cm , and one very nice showa that ticked all the right boxes . A sanke with stunning skin quality , and a nice smaller shiro utsuri . Hosakai had come good again and certainly become a big part of our plans in the future. His showa and shiro utsuri and very good , also does kujaku amoung other things , so all my favourites in one place , and that he just comes over as a fair and nice guy ! We had to rusg the pics and skip the videos as time was moving on and we had to be at the show very soon . The show was very good , and for koi below 36cm , ive heard many arguments for and against shows like this , for me im all for it and wish we had a show like it in the UK . Just think of all the people that would show a koi as they are more affordable at this size and many people buy them , great way to promote koi and get people into the show scene ! The whole show was very professionally run and is being taken every serious by the people involved and is growing every year , cant wait for the next one . We decieded to have a drive up the mountains and take some pics , on the way through we passed Maruhiro so we stopped for a quick coffee , we were all staring in the pond of koi that were sold , and suddenly a very familier tancho sanke swam past , dawned on me we had forgotten to do the shipping papar work for it , and needed a few koi to go with it to help shipping costs .Hinori diddnt need asking twice , I wasked for some small higher quality nisai and soon had some tanchos of all varietys , a stunning kohaku , and some gin rin kohakus all around 35cm . A sansai gin rin kohkau was bowled as well around 50cm and I purchased them all . We were talking about bigger koi , Hinori then showed us a yonsai sanke at 71cm , impressive body shape on it ,and the breeder hopes it will be high 70 s or eeven nearly 80 if we put her back in the mudond , so back she will go ! We then spent an hour driving around the mountains and taking some scenary shots , as I promised some people back home that I would . As usual , pics to follow in a short while

Today we started off at Hirasawa looking for some sanke , the ones we bought on our February trip were very good indeed and unbeatable value . So we spent some time looking and bowling , prices were very good ,but not quite what we were looking for and the higher quality koi had been placed in potassium so we left and will return again over the weekend . A short drive up to mushigame found us at Kazutos , this time a different fish house to look for some nisai kohaku . Since we have started buying his tosai there is a lot of interest in his koi , and I think to understand his tosai prices you need to visit his main fish . The koi were breath taking , kohaku of serious quality , and bearing in mind a lot of dealers are coming to the end of their stocks , it makes you wonder what the quality that he has sold already is like ! The nisai were around 50cm , and some of the best I had ever seen , I mean really , the skin was unbelievable , and some of the patterns ( yes Kevin I said patterns ) were excellent , the full range , marutens , nidans , sandans , yon dans and two I stopped even trying to count how many steps they were . But as you can could imagine , the prices were to match , im not saying these koi were dear , as that would imply that they are expensive , they were a hell of a lot of money , but well worth every penny . I decieded that at the moment id stick with his tosai and may return again to select through them before I leave . On the way down to get some lunch Kaneco called and said he was free for us to visit . I couldn’t believe the amount of stock he had in the farm , we was offered another hand pick of his shiro utsuri , bigger but not quite the quality I purchased last time , but the price reflected this ! After a short while I had selected through around 30 nice shiros .From here we moved into the man pond , he had some very nice large shiros up to 70cm , very large bodies , but as usual my photography made them look worse than they are lol , the skin was amazing and I was expecting to hear telephone numbers , but I was pleasantly surprised and soon had six very nice shiros in the bowl from 52cm nisai , to 70cm yonsai .Very pleased , and I will apologise now to the people who wanted to come with me to Japan , and I said I wouldn’t at this time of year as larger koi are in short demand if you still want quality , because this time they were here and at many other farms . After lunch I realised the day was almost at an end , so we had a look at some tosai at Kawakami , and then a quick look at Isa koi farm . Here there where some unbelievable koi but mostly sold , but we were offered some jumbo tosai that im thinking about . The day wouldn’t be full without a visit and coffee with Maruhiro , a lot of the breeders were setting up the show so wernt available , so we set of up there to finsh off the day . I bought a sansai showa , a nisai one , a couple of gin rin chagoi and a gin rin matsukawabake . Today was just one of those days where the day flys by , so if the blog is a little short , ill apologise . pics to follow

Finding it hard to get to breeders this week due to the international junior koi show , for some reason this show has really taken off this year in popularity , drawing entries from all over Japan . Most of the breeders are involved in setting up or running the show , so today I had already resigned to not seeing many koi . So a cup of coffee and a chat to plan out the day was interrupted by a call from a breeder we havnt been to for a while named Takano , this guy breeds superb goromo and has now started gin rin goromo . On arrival I got bowling koi straight away , only a few breeders breed budo goromo , and I soon had a few nice examples , the pond next door had some sansai , with an interesting 50cm male goshiki , it was just striking and just had to have it , along with a sansai gin rin budo goromo , some nice unusual varietys . After here we visited Marudo koi farm , and a pond was netted and we selected some nice sanke and showa jumbo tosai around 30-35cm . Lunch at 7-11 then found us driving down to the international koi show in Ojiya . We had entered four koi in all , four from Tanaka Maruju , and one stunning kikisui from Yamamatsu koi farm . The kikisui was our hope to win a gold and then may be best entry form the UK which we had already one twice in a row. We found the best 24cm and it wasn’t the kikisui , we found the vat it was in and it had one silver , really surprised as everyone had commented on how good it was , but beaten it was so that was that . As we walked around the show I walked down the row looking for my goromo , and there it was , Tanaka Maruju had done it again , gold with a little budo gormoo , three times in a row , a real credit to the breeder . We were looking at the vat , when up went another sign , best entry from the UK . That was it , I was delighted , three times in a row , best entry from the UK , all with a Tanaka Maruju koi . To say I was delighted was an understatement , a gold and silver award , best entry from the UK , with that and the success of our customers in the last year , it’s a great way to kick of the season ! We had a look round the show and was asked to go to the show party , drink and eat as much as you like ,oh go on then lol ! The time was nearing 4 pm , so as the party started at 6.30 we made our way back to the hotel . 6 pics todays purchases . next six are koi from the show , 3 koi in breeders section , aigoromo , showa and sanke were on diplay , not ours! Last pic is our four nisai from Takano , two budo goromo ,gin rin sanke and gin rin goshiki

Sometimes this trip in April/May can be very frustrating , sometimes its hard to still find quality as most stocks have been heavily picked through , sometimes a pond that may have been overwintered gets harvested and sometimes you get a phone call saying a breeder has just selected his final tategoi and the tateshita is available to purchase . Sometimes it can be very frustrating , like yesterday afternoon , visiting breeders that you like one after the other , and finding nothing .After our first visit of the day at Yamazaki , I started to feel that today was going to go the same way .We looked through all that he had available , there was nothing that I really needed . So a discussion then took place on where to go , Oofuchi was mentioned , but at this time of year he really has lower quality nisai , and nice tosai . As we were struggling a little for appointments , as a lot of the breeders were getting ready for the forthcoming show this weekend , we decided to go and visit Oofuchi and see what the tosai that were left were like . On arrival we first went to the nisai house as the breeders were there with someone else . This turned out to be a great piece of luck , there were loads of nisai there , and of quite good quality to some excellent ones . I started netting straight away , and got some very nice sanke , tanchos , kumonryu , kujaku and a few others . I seemed to be getting box after box , and it wasn’t until the paper work was done , I realised I had caught and bought 42 nisai , from 30cm to 45cm . This was a real lucky break , as this week I was happy with the quality I had bought , just worried about the quantity , so joking and laughing with spirits raised much higher , it wasn’t until about 20 mins later someone said , “ errrr we diddnt look at the tosai “ , I really did want to see them , but wasn’t complaining as we had really got some nice koi at a great price ! From here it was 7-11 for lunch , loads of calls trying to find breeders that wernt setting up the show . Kase seemed to be the only one in , so off we went . Kase has started to breed shiros again for the last few years and they are very nice , on arrival he still had a few nisai left , so 10 were selected and then we looked at the sansai and nisai showa . There were some very nice showa , he breeds from Sekiguchi / Dianichi parents , so I bowled up a female yonsai , sansai and some nisai including a tancho showa , Kase asked if we liked males , of course I replied looking at the bowl of females wondering how we could get the price down a little , so before long a second bowl of showa was filled up and five were selected and a price was given and rapidly accepted for all the koi . After a great day we took a few minutes out for pics of the last blossom and decided to drive up to mushigame for some scenary shots and have an early day . We crossed through Ojiya and started up through the mountains and passed Maruhiro , who was sitting outside drinking coffee , he must have seen us as immdediatly the phone started ringing , coffee ??? Oh go on then .We were soon joined by a few people who decided that his farm is also a great coffee shop , including a couple of Australian koi keepers who were touring around , must have been very frustrating for them , as we see koi we cant afford , they see koi they cant buy full stop , due to Australian laws forbidding the import of koi . As much as I felt bad for them , time is money so I bowled up some koi , and soon had a great sansai showa 66cm , and 48 cm sanke , both to be returned to the mudponds this summer . As we started looking before we knew it Hinori san got netting koi and showed us a 64cm sansai gin rin sanke , and a 60cm sansai kohaku , these were purchased and time to call it a day . Pics to follow as usual within a couple of hours