As today being our last one in Niigata , I wasn’t expecting to see or buy a great deal .Due to the fact that Virgin fly fairly early, we have to be at the airport the night before the flight , meaning todays adventures in the mountains were always going to be cut short ! , but once again I diddnt have to worry as two of our dealers come up trumps again . First stop was Kazuto , this guy we havnt been to for a while as his fish are of a very high grade , and as you will know the price normally matches the quality . On arrival we went into the main house  where the little pond houses a few numbers of extremely high grade nisai . I bowled up an extremely high quality sanke with a beautiful yon dan pattern , the fish was as good as it looked swimming around in the pond .After asking the price I was surprised that it wasn’t  unreasonable for the quality of the sanke infront of me , just too much to spend on one koi on the last day .In another koi house a nisai kohaku was bowled , this koi had an extremely good body , one I thought would certainly grow  very big , the breeder must have read my mind as within seconds of the koi going in the bowl he stated that fact without even being asked ! Once again the price was asked , and again seemed reasonable for the quality of the koi , but still a lot of money so taking some time to think about it . From here we moved on to one of our favourites Yamamatsu koi farm , Sakai was waiting for us and again we were greeted by the eternal cup of green tea , I used to laugh when people said to me they like it , but I have to say after nearly 30 trips to Japan it is starting to grow on me , and now I don’t have to look for the nearest plant pot ! What I like about this breeder is he always interested in what we are doing , always asking how he can help to improve our business and we can work with each other to improve our respected companies . I always tell him we need to raise the quality and thatb I needed some showa  , he then took us to a pond and some showa bowled , but they were not really the quality we were looking for , so Ken ( sakai work staff ) started bowling sanke , I said showa Ken san , he repolied quality Gary san , I laughed and started looking through the sanke that they had bowled , there were some very nice examples in the bowl , including a great male with a very interesting pattern and great sumi quality . I started looking in the pond and was then joined by Mark Chetter and we were pointing out koi for Ken to net and his head was soon spinning . After many koi bowled and some put back , I had about 8 great nisai that were all female in the bowl , and one very nice sanke . We got another bowl with clean water and moved what we thought were the best three into the new bowl . I was stunned , the quality was way above and beyond what I expected , and better than the two I had purchased a few days before . Sakai returned and I asked him to be nice to me , he said No and then laughed and gave me the price , way more than the last two ,  but looking at the quality I wasn’t surprised and diddnt argue and shook his hand . Three very nice sanke  , all female , nisai and around 50cm on the last day , bar well and truly raised and happy chappy me ! I then looked through what was left and we moved another three slightly smaller into the bowl , Sakai and his son looked at the male left in the bowl and shook their heads , I took the hint and immediately moved it into the clean water ,im glad I did , the male and the three females were also very high quality , and the price was asked and once again I was over the moon and bought all four . Seven very high grade sanke on the last day , it couldn’t get better , could it ???????? Then I remembered we hadn’t seen sansai showa that we had left last year , so looking at younsai and was hoping for around 65cm and some good improvement ! When bowled up she was bang on 65cm and a gret body , especially for showa , I was intending to leave her again , but we have a nice collection of fish in Japan , so its time to get some home and sell them ! So another cup of green for good measure and then it was hand shakes all round , photographs and time to say good bye . From here we headed down the mountain  as we had to visit our old friend Maruhiro , as that morning I had sold one of the Azukari koi and had to change the paperwork and ship the hi utsuri that we had purchased as the customer wants it shipped . On arrival we asked for some nice quality showa to be bowled , we purchased a nisai that we looked at yesterday ,outstaning quality but very expensive , but i had been thinking of it over night and decieded to buy her today .Then three smaller nisai were selected and the hi utsuri paperwork was changed . As i was finishing up i noticed that he has brought in some very nice Chagoi , so within a few minutes id caught up some of them , struggling to make a box up we went to another pond and picked up some better quality nisai and finished the day off  nicely . Once again another great trip , one shared with Mark Chetter who was with us in the winter harvest and decided to return a few months later for this one . Visited most of the breeders we want to deal with , selected some fantastic koi from the likes of Maruhiro , Marusei , Shintaro , Sakai and Torazo . The only farm we diddnt visit that we wanted to was Isa , as he was away in the Philapines for a koi show . Once again proving that we literally can go into any farm in Niigata and buy koi at ANY level ! This trip hopefully has raised the quality of the koi we purchase out here on our travels , but i guess ony you csn be the judge of that !!!! Take care and see you all soon.....

With the snow getting heavier and no let up in sight  , i knew today was going to be a long stressful cold one ! But being a half glass full kind of guy i was still looking forward to getting up the mountains to one of   Marusei koi farms other facilities . This is where he keeps a lot of his bigger koi , after digging our way into the farm we started catching up larger examples of koi . First one was a 65cm Yamabuki ogon , then a 70cm very good chagoi and then after getting a little enthusiastic ended up buying a nearly 90cm chagoi . From here we went to see his younger brother Maruhiro where we had some go sanke of better quality that he had selected for us to look through .As always we wernt to be disapointed , with many good examples to pick through we soon had a nice dozen nisai that i was very happy with ! Next up a  nice showa that Mark Chetter had seen on our October trip , Mark loved the koi then but , had concerens about the sumi not coming up , this time as the breeder had said , the sumi was already improving , so as ever the eagle eye Mark saw it as soon as he looked at it in the pond and bowled it . This was then purchased and will be left in Japan this summer . Not to be outdone at this one of my favourite farms , i looked at some sansai myself with a view to leave in Japan , two showas and a hi utsuri . I wasnt so keen on the utsuri as the differant colour  pecks , but the breeder was saying about how big the koi would get and he really liked it , and it helped us get a good deal on the two showas . Both the showas have very good skin quality , and should do well in Maruhiros mud ponds , the larger of the showa has slight rubs on the cheeks , this will be ok after the summer in the mud ponds , as for the Hi Utsuri i am very intereasted to see this in October as i have seen koi that i have turned down which he has recomended to leave come out of the mudpond way better than i could have imagined  . Time seems to be flying past so quick this trip , after curried rice at the farm it was off to Kaneko . This breeders fish are always nice , and i really like his shiro utsuri and kujaku . After lookiung around at the nisai , we bowled some nice nisai kujaku , but wasnt happy with all of them so we passed and spent some time just looking at the stunning sansai pond ! Unfortuantely i know these koi are a little out of my price range so we moved on to Marusei looking for more Yamabuki ogons and other nisai . The farm was very busy so we started on nisai around 35-40 , some very intereasting koi , including red kujakus and some hi showa and another dozen ogons . After noticing it was getting dark again , and it was already time to call it a day . I am struggling this week , time seems to fly past , but im happy with the koi we have and will round off tomorrow with a few more koi and then time to get the  bullet train back to Tokyo and then onto Narita airport for our flight Saturday home 

Feeling a bit out of sort sat the start of the today as i actually had to be awoken by the alarm clock , have i beaten the jet lag ?? So with six hours sleep behind me , and at least a gallon of coffee inside of me it was off for a whole lot of appointments hand picking tosai ! First stop today was an offer by Suzuki to hand pick some doitsu showa , the pond was netted for inspection , although there were many many nice koi including some stunning Kujaku i decieded to pass as i thought they were a bit small for our shop , but still had a bit of fun helping to select some koi for someone else ! Great therapy for me , and if thats how women feel after retail therapy then im close to understanding the other half of the human race finally lol ! After thanking the breeder it was time to move onto somthing i have been looking forward to all week , an appointment at Shintaro to hand select some tosai . We arrived to find  Saito already to go at a differant pond than we had asked to seelct though , i pointed at the other pond and he said no , all ponds , one box , one box , one box , i was starting to be a little concerned as Shintaro is not exactley a cheap breeder and was already doing sums in my head but then the heart took over and said ok why not . ( why is the heart stronger than the brain ?????? lol ) First pond many koi selected , then i went through making final selection , well that is when i could as Mark G excietment got the better of him and joined in  ! With many koi left over of still very good quality , Saito said no problem and produced a floating basket and put what was over so we could use them for a short fall from the next pond , but we neednt have worried ! Next pond things really got a little crazy , so many good koi my head was spinning and soon found a had so many great koi i need nt worry about keeping the other in the basket ! Saito then pointed to another pond and netted some up , and although the quality was still very good , i had so many i diddnt need any more . But then came the question " better quality ?? " and the breeder pointed to another pond , i couldnt believe it , the pond that  he had said there was a few in suddenly was available for seelection , a price was agreed on , actually i say that like there was some negotiating , there wasnt , would you like it ??? Of course , now Mr Chetter Mark G and Chris were all getting in on the " selection opinion " , thankfully just as i had finished Steve Gibbons turned up , 15 mins earlier and it would have been too much for me too take ! But seriously , i was over the moon and so happy with the selection , not cheap fish by any standards , he who dares Rodney !!!! So from here we went to a shop by Yagenji where ive always said that we should go for lunch and every one else said that it wasnt good for lunch , but with the weather turning awful , virtually a white out we decieded it was silly risking life and limb to go down the mountain for a 7/11 sandwich .We should have , opinions were correct , we should risked it , mad lemon cakes , apple pies and strange drinks and biscuits , sorry about that guys lol .Also forget to add that we bowled a nisai Kohaku , stunning skin and body , but as ive way over spent im going to give it a thought  . Pics ......nisai koahku , female and 55cm , stunning ! Next lot of pics are of the very high quality tosai selected at Shintaro .

After the most unpopuler lunch ever , we went round the corner to talk about tosai with our old friend Tanaka ,he offered as a pond to hand select through , but at this time i was more intereasted in the pond of tategoi near by and the hundreds of tanchos he was growing on . A long discussion then took place involving the words , not yet , may be , can i get back to you , mmmm , expensive and im not sure . I like this breeder and he always trys to work with us as he really wants to get more of his fish into the uk as his father  did many years ago . So he said he will work out somthing for me over the next few weeks as and when he sorts out his tategoi , nice result , and one that im sure will work out fine for us .  After nearly crashing the car we finally managed to get to Sakai Yamamatsu koi farm without killing any of our  party . Once here we were given the news that we had feared , two of our koi had maybe not come out of the mud pond , koi are normally left in Japan at your own risk with the understanding that the breeder may / will sort somthing out for you . Within minutes Sakai had offered us three koi of oustanding quality as replacements . I cannot offer any of these koi yet for a sale as they affect a third party and need to discuss this with the person involved . But i can confirm that all three belong to us and one will be for sale and can be left in Japan . So feeling elated that we had good replacements for our loss we started to look for more koi to purchase . We were first offered some nice quality nisai , mainly ginrin  , very nice quality but was astonished when given the price , may be he was feeling bad about what had happened , Mark Chetter diddnt feel too bad about taking advantage of the situation and had first grabs out of the pond lol ! I found a few more to make up the box and a nice collection of nisai around 45-50cm . As time was getting on we decieded that it was too late to go anywhere else so carried on looking around the farm . So many koi here of very high quality it was unbelievable ! I went to a pond where a few koi were grabbing my attention , i asked the prices and was given the hand signal of up and down , yep the international sign of expensive was being given by Sakai . Not to be put off i asked for two sankes to be bowled , both female and stunning alog with a tancho sanke that was whiter than white . I loved all three and was getting ready for the bad news , while Sakai was busy with some Japanese clients i found i was unhappy with the beni on one , so i saw a sanke that really looked stunning , try as they might no one could catch the dam thimg ! I kept describing the koi and every one said i was making it up , and then someone said its not this is it ?? It was and i wasnt going mad with the slighly green water i had seen it and it did exist ! It went into the bowl , now i was even more concerned about the price as it was clearly even better ! While waiting for Sakai to come back i decieded that both sanke would be too expensive , and i would buy one to leave in Japan in a hope to improve its quality ( and its retail value if im honest !! ) The breeder returned and smiled , and gave us the price , i was gutted ,i knew they would be expensive , but the price was way way over what i expected , he looked as  disapointed as i felt , untill he pointed to the bowl and gestured a circle with his hand , after a brief discusion i had misunderstood , the price was not per koi but for all three , still not cheap by any means but certainly fair so all three were purchased and ive decieded that they will all be shipped as we have many koi at this farm growing on again and its time to have some of his better quality nisai for sale in the shop. We had a great day today with many laughs and certianly one of the best days i can remember , Sakai even called me a dumbo in Japanese , at one point when sorting out the replacement for the lost fish a sanke was bowled , it was no where near the qualityof the other koi so voiced my opinion , he laughed very hard and said this is not the offer , this is your tosai you left this summer for fun , but he diddnt laugh as much as i did when i said you keep it , present from me lol !  Nisai purchased from Yamamatsu today.

Today diddnt start off to well , an early appointment booked with Marudo koi farm , will have to be rescheduled due to another group turning up without letting the breeder know , the breeders dont like to say no , so as we arrived they were bowling up in the pond we wanted to go in . Shame but thats the way it goes sometimes , although frustrating it doesnt happen that often so we left and went onto Shinoda koi farm , where we were allowed to hand select tosai including hi utsuri ( one of the best tosai gin rin ones ive ever seen ) and mainly doitsu go sanke . After making a final selection and Mark taking the pics we looked around at the older koi , unfortunatey this time there was nothing for us to look at that took our fancy . From here we went back down the mountain to visit Torazo . If im honest i wasnt over enthusiastic about the visit as being the second visit this year i diddnt think he would have much for us to look at , and certianly nothing in the better grade that might fit in my budget . How wrong i was !! We started looking at the ponds and found some very nice quality male kohaku , amoung them one or to that looked very intereasting  , so four were purchased and also  two better quality females . Very pleased with these  , and once again Mark set about taking pics and we then set off for lunch .The afternoon was started at Marasaka , famous for many varietys including kujaku and doitsu metalics .This time we went through a few of the ponds but couldnt really find what we were looking for . Soon after a short drive we were back at Marusie koi farm to look for some small ogons , and a few other koi . First koi in the bowl was a 67-70cm yonsai Karashigoi and a very nice example of a nezo mukashi ogon around the same size . Alot of people have asked us to buy some small nisai yamamuki ogons , so while here we selected around 12 of these , and two three year olds both female . Plans were then made to visit another facility to select some much larger specimums of chagoi , benigoi , ogons and a few others all over 75-80cm plus later in the week .  After here we then went onto Yamazaki to finish looking over the koi were it had got to dark the night before . Although many many koi here , i couldnt find enough of what i needed so time to call it a day . Very pleased with todays buying , and some intereasting appointments hand selecting tosai from some very famous farms . Please note , if you want to buy a koi , please email or message me , i will confirm that the koi is yours and then you can  ring the shop to pay . Koi can be paid half up front and the other half before the end of the quarantine if that helps . Also note that dispite what i said on here last night as i was falling asleep on the key board , any koi now purcahsed in Japan or already in the Uk will be cared for free of charge , we do this every year at this time as the new koi wont clear quarantine untill mid April. First four pics are Shinoda hand picked tosai , next two are Torazo nisai kohaku both female nisai and 54cm , then four males from Torazo all around 50cm and again all nisai . Nezu mukashi ogon yonsai 68-70cm , Karashigoi 67-70cm and yonsai , two sansai ogons around 55cm and both female .