First stop today was our old friend Tanaka , this breeder is becoming very famous for gin rin showa and showa . Last year we had a first and second in 35cm gin rin at the Nogyosai show , and this year a 2nd in 45cm with Tanakas Gin rin showa . Although young for a new breeder his quality is of a very good standard , and also now has many other varietys of equal quality . First of all we bowled many kujaku and finally settled on six females , including a gin rin one .( The Kujakus colour was a little bit light , but when they are in the uk q/tined in outside water this will get much stronger !) . There were so many good ones i decieded on taking a few more and make a box up with other varietys .Two kujakus from the first selection were kept , and then a showa was bowled , "takai" was the breeders comment ( expensive ! ) , i could see the quality and knew it was going to cost , then the breeder said that it was male and gave me a very good price , once again im not going to get into the male /female thing , but this fish at the price was very good value for money so i couldnt refuse . Then a gin rin matsubakawabake , platinum ogon and a shiro utsuri were also purchased . The breeder did not want to part with the shiro cliaming it was tategoi , but a deal was struck and the koi was purchased . I was really trying to buy koi other than showa , but this breeder has some lovely examples , so again another four were purchased , two of which were more expensive and unsexed but i was so happy with the quality i didnt see the need to worry ! I said to Tanaka san , no more showa , so he showed us some other examples, a stunning 45cm plus female sansai gin rin orenjii ogon , beni kumonryu and a very unusual gin rin scaled hariwake . We left feeling very happy with the purchases , and its easy to see why he is one of my favourite breeders . From here it was the long drive back to Nagyoka to visit some breeders who would have some more unusual varietys . At Kase we selected 10 nisai of very wierd and wonderfull koi , Goshiki asagi , Doitsu goshiki , Beni kikikoryu , Ki kikikoryu , kindai showa , ginga and gin rin ginga . Its always a pleasure to visit here as he is such a nice guy and the welcome is always good as is the price and health of the fish . From here we popped into Suda where he had some nice gin rin yamabuki ogons , but no one was around so we could not purchase any . We then went to Aoki where we saw his stunning Goshikis , ive always said ill buy his goshiki when i see them at sansai to see how they develop , well rest assured , he now has them at three years and they are as good as the tosai so i will be now buying them. The quality at this breeders is amazing , ill go back next time when i have more time .While in the area we passed Ikarashi , another metalic breeder who breeds nice yamabuki ogons as well , again the fish were very nice , and he offered us to hand pick tosai , but time was against us as we had train to catch and it would have meant seine netting the pond , shame as there were many varietys there .From here it was 7-11 for egg sandwiches , and then the drive to Nagyoka for the train to Narita , where we will stay over for the night to catch the plane on Sunday for our return to the uk .

Its 9pm , and im in my room at the hotel in Narita airpot fully fed and ready for sleep in preperation for the flight home Sunday lunch time . This visit has been the hardest for me yet in my adventures in Niigata , with the snow at some of the breedes premises being nearly 4m deep and even the roads being blocked and in some places , it has been extremely hard work and very frustrating .At one point mid week i have to admit questioning my sanity after so many fallls into deep slow and several nasty slips resulting in bumps and bruises ( plus two uncomfatably close visits to breeders filter systems ) , but as usual things worked out fine . Highlights of the week ? favourite breeders? well as alot of you know i really have been trying to cut the number of breeders i use so i can get to know them , and an understanding of thier fish better , which is fine untill they have sold out completely , ie Sakai nisai and over , Isa everything !including tosai , Oofuchi only has tosai and nisai , Hoshikins nisai and over all sold out . This time remaking old aquantances saved the day , Yamisazaki had many great fish ,and at Hiroi we bought many jumbo nisai . As for the high lights , id have to list them all , buying good tosai ( and a yonsai from marudo ) and talking to Marudo and Torazo . Hand picking tosai all over the place including Kaneco , Oomo , Tanaka to name but a few . As always the mad hatters tea party and Tanaka Satoshi , leaving a sansai showa to go to the mudponds with Tanaka (mushigame ). Buying at Miya for the first time including a showa that had record amounts of people trying to buy it , including some very well known people ( i did try to email the person who rang the shop and left his email with Chloe , but it kept bouncing back to me , sorry ! ) Remaking old aquantances with Yamazaki and Hiroi , so to summerise , basicall the whole trip ! We seem to be getting better know with most of the breeders ( hopefully not for smashing up thier fish houses ) and i think that shows in the level of koi we are now buying /try to buy , so upwards and forwards for Gatwick Koi . I hope youve enjoyed reading the blog , as i have enjoyed living it ! I always try to write the blog as i see it , trips are not always a bed of roses as this one certainly shows , i know from the responces i get that most people like it so thats the way it will stay ! If you want to join me on my mext trip in april/may where we are looking for very high grade tosai and jumbo tosai then feel free to contact me , we will also be arrangng our dates for the 2011 Autumn harvest if you are a group or couple or solo , looking to go then once again please contact us .If you cant make Japan then why not visit the shop , this year is our 20th anniversary and you wont believe how things are changing every year , untill then , all the best ..........................Gary

As this was the last day for our new friend from Holland Fresso , we were all hoping for a good morning , so an early start took us to Kawakami where the amount of variety and usually good prices mean you can always find plenty of small nisai to suit all customers .This time we were not so sucessful , the fish were not really the size we wanted , and the price made them not so easy to sell in the UK , please dont think that this means the Japanese are expensive far from it , the price in yen has never been so good , but with the weak pound and recent shipping increases , it makes the fish landed in the uk expensive . All week we had been trying to get to masaki koi farm , but with the snow he was way out of bounds , finally the snow ploughs had got through and it was possible to visit .The nisai were not really of the quality we were looking for so we popped up to see the better koi . The sansai /yonsai were fantastic and you can see why Omosako has purchased koi for brood stock ( Masaki shiro are from Omosako bloodline so its very close for him to use ). After seeing these amazing koi i have to say that he has to be the number one breeder of Shiro utsuri in Niigata . Watching Fresso bowl an amazing shiro utsuri , i realised that it was the koi that Rod and Diane had looked at in October , this time it looked even better ! The skin was amazing and at around 60-65 cm is definatley of show quality .I had to ask twice to make sure i had heard the price right , it had dropped by a third , so it now represents an even better buy ! (Someone is about to get sent pictures as we speak ! ) Both photos are of the same fish and camera settings , where is Mark Gardener when you need him ! At least you can see that the quality is very serious indeed , if any body is intereasted in this koi please email me as it is reserved for us , the price is very very good for a koi of this quality !!!!!!!!!!! From here it was down the hill to Hirasawa by the cemnet factory , plenty of fish of every variety and grade , but again nothing that we wanted to bowl . From here we went to Dianichi to look at the koi ( and i do mean just to look at !) , and then to Hoshikins who had completely sold out of nisai , he had a nice pond of jumbo tosai but would not let us pick them out , and i didnt really fancy the breeder just sending me a box so it was onwards and forwards . With a break to visit the koi shop , booking the train for Narita tomorow night and lunch , the morning diddnt seem to be that great a day , i could easily see that this was going to be my bad day ! ( If you read the blogs before you will see i always have one ....) After lunch it was hard to get motavated after a bad morning , but things were about to get a whoile lot better , but ill tell you more after ive had a shower !!!!

Feeling that i was a bit short on good quality tosai , i was really pleased when Hoshino the kohaku breeder rang and said he was willing to let us hand select tosai ! You could imagine the break neck speed we went round there at , within minutes we were selecting jumbo tosai around the 25cm mark ( all though thats not super size yet , its only jan /feb and they have three more months in warm water before they go out to the mudpond ) We picked just one box as while we were doing this an appointment had been made to select sanke and showa from Oomo and Tanaka . The kohaku of hoshino are very good , they won a major gc a year or two ago , and the fish are normally 55- 60cm around october (18mths ) . The skin quality is simply amazing , if you dont like the some of the patterns , rest assured they were picked on skin quality ! Arriving at the new facility of nnd we were ushured to a pond of showa and sanke jumbo tosai . Once given the price ( which i thought was very good ) we were away happily picking the fish untill i had 40 around 35-30cm that i was really happy with . Some of the showa were very nice , but to me the sanke really shone out , the sumi was very good quality along with the skin as well . This was the first time i have visited /dealt with both these breeders , and i have to say i thought it was a first class set up , and run very professionally ! So with nearly 60 hand selected jumbo tosai of go sanke varietys the afternooon certainly turned good for me and my customers ! First three photos are of the hoshino kohaku , next four sanke/showa from Oomo and Tanaka . A nice end to a crazy week , and i wish Fresso and Wilbert a safe journey back to holland . Tomorrow we are off to visit our favourite little Tanaka , who has provided us with first and seconds at the nogyosai show , so really looking forward to that !

The afternoon had me expecting to buy a lot of koi as we were off to Oofuchi , but when we got there i was very disapointed to find out he had sold all his sansai and yonsai .The nisai were not really what i was looking for, so we stayed for a short while and headed off to Otsuka .Once again we found nothing that we were really wanted for so we then decieded to visit Hiroi . This is another breeder we havnt bought from for a long time , and once again we were very surprised . Within a few minutes i had bowled up quiet a lot of showa and sanke , the pond was mixed male and female and all the nisai were around 50-55cm , i was just about to ask him to sex the fish when he made me an offer i coluldnt refuse , so i bought all 8 large nisai . All these fish have reall good body shapes and would be a fantastic addition to any ones pond . Again i apologise about the photos but one of our party had to go back to hospital for a wound dressing change so we were very much in a rush . To get a better idea of the quality of the koi , please look at the video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5fXw51zU8n4