Woke up today to a sound I recognised straight away , the gentle tapping of snow on the window , it was pouring down , so with being ill most of the week , and still using crutches , I was just hoping that I could get through the day with a slip or fall .Then add to that , the dangers of driving round the mountains , I wasn’t exactly enthusiastic about today . Also we were going to a new breeder , Abe san from Marushu koi farm . If im honest , I wasn’t fussed as I wanted to go and see Hirasawa , but the day before Rob talked me into going as Hirasawa was busy and couldn’t see us until lunchtime , so trying to keep my glass half full , we set off in a totally different direction I had ever been in . When we arrived , it wasn’t a normal set up , in fact it wasn’t even a fish house , an old converted barn that was used for saki making , the ponds were all built with scaffolding and I thought omg what are we doing here , whats this set up all about ? I met the breeder , and he had a real friendly manor , I mean a real genuine one , and as he showed us round you could see he was proud and excieted about his koi , and within a few minutes , I realised how wrong I had been with my earlier judgements .This guy was a real diamond in the dust , mainly a goshiki breeder , but breeds from 3 sets of parents , one that gives of that “ old style “ of goshiki , and im alittle old fashioned and I like it (If the guys from Essex are reading this , remember the big goshiki that me or Brian bought at Takano , like that but only better ! ) He also has some kohaku and some sanke bred from SFF parents , and showa from Dianichi bloodline as well .He certainly is investing in brood stock that is for sure . One thing I noticed , all his koi were not big for their age , especially bearing in mind their pedigree , so I had to ask , he said he diddnt like Jumbo tosai and growing fish too big too quick , something I do understand , and to a uk dealer like myself , he is a dream come true , 30-35cm very affordable high quality koi , and 40-50cm sansai . Don’t get me wrong , I like the idea of big koi , but it gets to the point where 55-60cm nisai of high quality are just not affordable to the general public! Any way , lets skip the politics and get onto the koi .First pond of nisai , very reasonable and took me about ten minutes to sort out ten I liked . As most of you might have guessed , we have bought a lot of goshiki , but I didn’t let that stop me lol . Next pond higher quality and soon had anither nice examples of sanke and goshiki and showa , including an anusual goshiki sanke . Then onto the higher grade pond , I hate this , you ask the price and its bara bara ( sp ) , you get loads of fish in a bowl then you get the price , then if it’s a little awkward when you have to put them back . Not here , I poinyd and got the price , asked a couple more then got to getting them out . First out was a sansai sanke ,around 40-45cm , nice pattern , great skin and sumi just showing in all the right places . Next was a coupl of kohaku , great patterns and the koi were sexed as they came out , and some of the males were too good to leave behind . A couple of nisai kohaku around 30cm , and a stunning shiro with snow white skin . All bowled and I couldn’t put one back , so someone suggested leaving a cracking nidan kohaku , although small it had a cracking body shape , it was explained to the breeder why I was laughing , and he said of course no problem ! I really was super impressed with this place , great koi and a nice chap as well , couldn’t ask anymore from him ( except to sell me some of the goshiki he is growing on for brood stock lol ) . Left there smiling and was asked , glad we came ? Of course I was , and feeling a little guilty about my previous thoughts when we arrived , but ill be back there in October to see what he has in the harvest , and to see my little kohaku ! We drove back to Ojiya and the snow diddnt let up , and it was freezing cold , so a hot lunch was called for , more liver and rice and then off to Marasaka .This is a nice friendly run farm with father and two sons , mostly unusual varietys of metalics and doitsu metalics , kujaku , chagoi and sanke from Jimbei bloodline . Today we had a look round but I couldn’t find enough fish here to make a box , so we passed on from here and headed to meet Hirasawa at his smaller facility . Coffee and chat always the first order here , then we got to the fish , was given a price for picking through the nisai pond and thought a little dear for him , so stuck a net into be polite , and once again I was wrong , there was some great koi in here , and soon has showa , sanke and a variety of tanchos in a bowl . We then went onto some sansai around 60cm , and soon had a strangely attractive maruten showa and gin rin shiro utsuri in a bowl , hands were shaken and pic and videos were taken . After this , we were taken to another fish house , here I bowled around six koi , a yonsai 66cm tancho sanke , a 61cm tancho sanke sansai , a stunning maruten kohaku 63cm and sansai , sansai 3 step sanke around 55-60 cm , tancho sansai around 55cm , all female , and what looked like a male kindai showa around 40-45cm and nisai . Koi were priced up , and then a little discount for buying them all , hands shaken job done , great way to finish another trip , and then off back to the hotel . Tomrrow a nice easy day travelling back to Tokyo , and then onto the all Japan show , ill add some pics of that over the weekend on here . Pics in order , first 5 are nisai from Marushu 30-35cm , five sansai from marushu , three nisai from Marushu , next four picks are hirasawa nisai , to yonsai from Hirasawa , one yonsai , three sansai and one nisai kindai showa from Hirasawa 

With so much work to do , and as we finished very late last night , we started a an hour later . So by the time we got to Hasegawa I was around 10am . This breeder is very famous for his kohaku , and there was plenty there to choose from , but what was left now was seriously expenisve , his nisai tategoi , so quickly withdrew the net from the water , the only other pond of nisai he had were sold out , shame but that’s the way it goes ! While we were there , I checked on some kohkau that diddnt get shipped back in October , they were looking fine , so at least I do have half a dozen of his koi ! From here it was a quick drive through the back roads to Marudo koi farm . Today Marudo was away to Tokyo to prepare the show , we were left in the capable hands of his daughter . She did a lot of the pricing and things seemed very fair , so we started bowling up . Ive been asked for some smaller nisai , its seems to get harder with go sanke , as most breeders want their nisai bigger , so it was a nice surprise when we were shown some smaller go sanke . Soon had 10 nice sanke and one showa in a bowl , 30-40cm .Although not high grade , they were certainly nice enough and great value for money , nice place to start for someone who wants a Marudo koi farm koi . Next pond was higher quality nisai , and once again the price wasn’t too bad , especially for one of Niigatas bigger and more famous farms . Within minutes I had a bowl of sanke , three females and one male all around 50-55cm and of very nice quality . After this we had a look at some even more expensive nisai , soon had a bowl with a female sanke , female kohaku and what we all thought ( bar one ) a male kohaku , a little “ debate “ started , and to settle the argument the older son arrived and declared it was defintley female , from being interested , I went to super interested in about a millisecond ! But obviously these were not cheap fish , so ive reserved them until tomorrow night , sorry but I wont post these , as it would be fair to their next owners if I pass them by , but if I find no other kohaku tomorrow , they will be mine ! All pictures taken , we started to pack up and I noticed a very nice doitsu karashigoi . Since the videos of the breeder down south who breeds them keep getting posted , im often asked for them . Believe me Marudo ones will grow , and ive seen them up to 80cm and beyond here . I asked the price and she said expensive in Japanese ( one word you learn very quickly here ) , but we have some smaller ones in the other fish house , so over we went ! As soon as we in there , I bowled up a 78cm chagoi , only yonsai ( four year old ) , purchased this and an absolutey stunning doisu karashigoi , four year and 71cm .Very pleased with this , we were then offered some smaller chagoi , karashigoi and gin rin versions , and yamabuki 35-45cm , we were going to pick some , when someone declared their interest in lunch , it was already gone 1.30 , no one including myself could be bothered to start again , sounds lazy but sometimes you just get to the point where you just have to put the net down for a while . The daughter promised to pick us some nice ones , so we will leave it to her , and im gratefull as chasing chagois round a 8000 gallon pond isn’t my idea of fun especially at lunchtime . If any one in the trade want some of these please let me know asap and we can go back and pick some , or add some to our orders . After lunch , we went up to Mushigame and was struggling to find breeders around that hadn’t already gone to the show . The younger brother was at Yagenji farm , so we popped in for coffee , and checked on 8 sansai we had bought after the shipment was closed , They were fantastic , and one male doitsu sanke is already sold , and I know the owner will be very happy when he sees it ! The other 7 are on my website , but are way better than the pics and videos show ! While we were there , a few fish were still available , so we had a nose around to see if there was anything worth bowling . A very quirky kindai showa caught my attention , yeah it was ok I thought , them I looked again its nice I thought , two more looks and it was right we need to get this in a bowl .Once in a bowl she was superb , 62cm and still had that youthful look you want in a yonsai koi . I didnt want to ask the price , but mustered up the courage , it wasn’t cheap , not by any standards , but for what was swimming in front of me in a bowl , I couldn’t say no . Discussions took place about the best option , and it has been decieded to leave her in Japan for a year , if purchased you have the choice to leave her , or ship in the next week or two . This is a seriously nice showa , I think my favourite of the trip , between that and 5 kohaku lol . Time was moving on so we popped into Hirasawa , to see what he had , and although he wasn’t there , we had a little nose around and have made an appointment to come back tomorrow . By now it was 4pm and starting to rain and get dark , so we called it a day and headed back to the hotel .

Pics in order , first ten are marudo nisai 35-40cm , next
four are better quality 50-55cm , first three are female , one male .78CM chagoi , 71cm doitsu karashigoi both from Marudo .Last pic 62cm kindai showa from Yagenji

After a restless nights sleep , about three hours in all , I awoke with a massive headache , and it just got worse throughout the day , then I started to become quite ill , and really struggled through out the day to even net koi . Dunno what the hell was wrong , but by the time I got back to the hotel I was in quite a state , took some tablets . laid down and crashed out all evening until gone ten .Now writing this a few hours later than would normally be done , but feeling much better  so many apologies ! On the good side , at least ive got a genuine excuse for any poor photography today lol ! Todays trip started out to an old favourite of ours , Kase koi farm , I really do like this fella , he is always genuine and cant do enough to help . Also he has a helper , who is equally as helpful , and speaks a little  English , which is a little frustrating when your trying to learn Japanese ! So im asking questions in Japanese , and he replys in English . Any way , back to the fish , its no secret that we are now suppling to the trade , and was asked by many to get some metalics here for them , so was a little disappointed when the ponds were full of sold koi , so being a half glass full kind of guy , I asked if he had any more nisai , (trying to stay positive ) , we were taken to the sansai house , thinking my Japanese wasn’t as good as it was ( and Rob was talking to the breeder ) the helper took  us across and there was a couple of ponds full of nisai , and guess what , goshiki ! Thank you I thought and wihin minutes had a nice bowl of goshiki 30-35cm  photographed and videoed ………….nice ! Next was a pond of showa , Kase breeds from a line of Sekiguchi and Dianichi , a fairly good pedigree im sure you would agree ! I bought some of these in the winter , and thought they were fairly expensive , but very nice , today they were a better price so picked another 7 , nice again ! Had a look in the main pond , and found an unusual doitsu showa , sansai , female and around 50cm , pricey I thought , the beni pattern was very nice , but not much sumi , so I hoped the price might reflect this , it was bowled and it did , needed a few more koi to make the box up , and noticed  last nisai pond was full of what looked like kumonryu , until I turned off the air , then realised that it was doitsu shiro utsuri , found four I liked and again was very happy . Nisai and around 30-35cm ! Now im feeling better , looking back I wish I had bought more ! After here a quick trip over the mountain found as at Aoki , he had some very nice priced nisai , but after falling over on my way into the breeders fish house on his steps , I relalised I was seriously going down with a bug of some kind , I let Rob pick a couple of boxes while I had some time out with my old mate bottled water and looked at the sansai goshiki , there was some amazing exmples , but although the prices were fair , just a little too much for the UK Market , so I decieded to pass , but may return later during the week , for another try . After a brief stop at Mc donalds , it was off to see Hosakai , another one of my favourite breeders , we selected two boxes of his better quality nisai , first one aigoromos , goshiki and a few showa , next box was even better , more or less the same varietys except a very nice tancho showa . Saw for the first time one of my customers shiro utsuri,  purchased at 51cm last April , now at 65cm , it looked huge , someone is going to be a very happy customer when it gets shipped in February ! Looking at it swimming around , I decieded I had to leave another , very nice female , 46cm , but a little thin , breeder explained that it hadn’t been fed since the harvest , so I decided to take her and leave her for one summer . On the way back to the other side of Ojiya , we decieded to visit Torazo , bowled up a huge nisai kohaku , 55cm and a body to die for , not a bad price , till he checked the fish and it was declared male , was still very tempted , as we have clients for such good quality males , but it had an issue with the sashi in one place , so deceided to leave it and moved on to the tosai house . Here he had some stunning tosai , unfortunately , these were not for sale yet . We then ventured up to Mushigame , roads were treacherous , but at least it wasn’t snowing , popped into Sakai , he was busy with a client so we had a drink and chat with the father , and hope to pop back during the week . Last stop of the day at Kaneco , he has some very nice tancho showa , nisai and sansai , but by now I was so ill , it was as much as I could do to stay on my feet , I like the fish but really wasn’t feeling well enough to start buying from his main pond , but again some nice fish , and I might venture back later now im feeling better . A great day all in all ,but when your feeling ill , its very hard to concentrate , and Im sure if I was feeling better , id have bought more ! Still ,i feel  a little recovered now , so hopefully tomorrow will be  even better ! Pics are as follows ..............10 nisai goshiki from Kase 30-35cm , 7 nisai showa 35-45cm , four doitsu shiros around 30cm and nisai , 50cm female doitsu sansai showa . 11 nisai from Hosakai 35-45cm . stoill waiting for a picture of th Azukari shiro utsuri , will post that tomorrow

After crashing out twice for a grand total of 7 hours , I really did feel like taking on the world when I awoke this morning , which was just as well if I had known what was coming through out the day ! First appointment of the day was at an old favourite of ours , Yamazaki koi farm . On the way to the breeder , we were chatting away about how many fish were around , especially the nicer quality , some breeders sold out already , some with not so many left and although we had done very well this week , I did wonder how many more koi we would find ! Well , when we arrived at Yamazaki and the air was turned off , I knew we wouldnt get out of the place without spending a whole days budget ! Im serious , there were koi of every size and every quality and so many varietys it made your head spin . I started looking in a pond of sansai , asked the price and it was very fair , and ended up buying more boxes than I intended buying koi . All sansai , and the breeder sexed the koi for us as well , varietys included kohaku , hariwake , yamabuki ogons , goshiki ,goromo , hi utsuri , gin rin hi utsuri , kikisui and yamatonishiki , and that’s just what we bought ! After I had finished with the sansai , remarks were made about all the nisai tanchos swimming around with the sansai , I had just assumed they were in there because they were sold , nope , in correct , so back in with a net for another hour getting bowls of nisai out of a 30 ft long pond ! Ended up with nine very nice tancho , tancho showa , tancho sanke and even a very nice doitsu tancho sanke ! Next pond had some very serious koi in , I bowled a stunning asagi , 60cm and perfect or so I though , till I noticed a couple of small shimmies around the mouth , shame as it was of the same level as the one we bought from Yamaju in the Autumn , although tiny shimmies , I was worried that if had these in Japan how much future would the koi have in some UK waters , so back she went . A few more were bowled , but most others were a lot of money so we passed , except a friend of mine who bought an outstanding Tancho goshiki , I think ill see this at a koi show in Japan soon , it was a very serious koi , and one that will bring its new owner much pleasure . Any way , back to reality , next pond was some very nice nisai , amoungst the best ive seen at the farm . I soon had a box of serious nice nisai , doitsu sanke , aka matsuba , goromo , asagi , tancho goshiki and a stunning gin matsuba , seriously high level and suitable for koi shows ! I also got a box of gin rin platinum ogons around 35-40cm , seriously clean but as were chatting they were taken away to the nets before we had a chance to video or take pics , sorry about that , ill do it asap when the koi are in the uk . We then visited various koi houses looking at the tosai , and the breeder agreed to make up various boxes for me , and select at a higher quality ( and obviously price ) , some people don’t like doing this , may be they have had bad experience in the past , but the breeders I use , I trust to do this every year for me , and they don’t disappoint , Yamazaki tosai I think more or less sold out within a month of it coming out of quarantine and into the shop , I think that says it all ! Yamazaki joined us for lunch , and I finally got to taste the fried liver Rob had promised me all week , and oh my word , was it worth waiting for , no more curried rice in that particular establishment . Next breeder was to be Koda , usually as some very nice smaller nisai 30-40cm , but this time not many except goshiki , oh well I thought , think it would be rude to leave them for someone else , and soon had 22 goshiki and gin rin goshiki bowled and videoed . We looked in the sansai pond , there were some stunning kujaku , but time was running out and we passed and moved onto Isa . As most of you know , this is a serious koi farm , and the staff here are all very professional , but down to earth and like a laugh , as an incident with Robs car took place that I just couldn’t mention on here lol ! Any way , the fish were fantastic , and the whole pond of tosai were purchased , I think ill be having some of these , and also getting the breeder to pick me out some at a higher level as well . As the light was fading we needed to get back to Maruhiro as we had some fish there reserved for us , and he was due along with many other breeders to leave for Tokyo to help prepare the show there so needed to get back there asap . On arrival we were met with a little disappointment , the breeder said he would try and bring some 30-40cm kohaku in from his other facility , he apologised and said he had none yet available , so what do you do when you cant find small kohaku ? Yes you know , you buy bigger ones to cheer yourself up lol . So into the main pond we went , a few went into a bowl , and then a few out , then I really started seeing some koi I was seriously interested in , Hinori san must have sensed this as the bowl was lifted out of the pond with the koi on to the floor , for better viewing ,( which is no mean feat with a one metre bowl full of water and koi ) More koi went in , more koi went out , this breeder just gets better and better , and I was getting stressed now , as there were just two many koi I wanted , so we settled on five , one showa , and the rest kohaku . They will all stay in Japan this summer , unless some one wants them shipped , I mentioned earlier that we trust the breeders we work closely with , discussing the merits of each koi on the way home , it was decieded by all that the best koi by a mile , was the one the breeder recommended , when it was discussed what I was looking for , with one particular client in mind , he went back in the pond and caught it straight away, none of our group had even seen it ! Hinori asked us to join him for dinner , thinking of what I had just spent , I thought yeah why not , ive earnt it , and nowadays he can definatly afford it ! A nice end to a beautifull day. Pics in order , first 15 are sansai from Yamazaki , details on the web latter, next nine are nisai ,nxt 6 are koda nisai goshiki . THere are two aka matsuba available , lost the pic of the other one , next two are tancho mix from yamazaki , last five are of the koi we have pucahsed as at Mauhriro , to be left in Japan for the summer . Sizes are from 55-73cm . All details will be added onto the website in the next 24 hours

After a good nights sleep ,( when i say a good night i mean four hours straight through is good by my standards on my first night  in Japan ) we set off to visit Hoshikin koi farm , famous for his kohkau , and more recently showa as well . We purchased some over the winter , and were very pleased with them , so wanted more for our customers who like his fish . On arrival at the farm , the quality was absolutely stunning , plenty of great kohaku and showa to choose from , the higher grade pond had some serious koi in , and was pleasently surprised when some of them were in our price range . A 50cm female nisai was selected , amazing skin quality , and very suitable for showing . This was purchased along with two showa that i just couldnt leave behind .After purchasing at Hoshikin i was feeling a little brave so decieded to visit Isa , a little disapointed as when we arrived he had more or less sold out of nisai , a conversation was held about purchasing some tosai instead , and once again i was suprisd that there were koi here that were affordable .We were shown a pond of tosai , that had very nice quality , but couldnt select , and to be honest , i diddnt care as saw very few in there that i wouldnt want in a box of koi shipped to me in the UK . So we will buy some of these koi , but again asked about some even higher quality , and was taken to another pond , these were even better , sencing an oppertunity i asked if the whole pond could be purchased , no chance , as usual at this time of year , the pond still contained tategoi had to be selected through .But he did offer to hand select some out of this pond , and a price was agreed , so this year we will have plenty of Isa tosai , at an affordable price . ( Affordable by Isa standards any way lol ! ) Two grades that should be able to supply most showa fans , and even at this time of year , they are already 20-25cm . Next to visit was Kawakami , this breeder has very impressive koi nowadys even to all Japan standaards , especially his goshiki and shiro utsuri . This time he diddnt have that many goshiki for sale that were of the standard we are looking for , but still managed to find some shiros . As we were driving Rob planted the seed of a hot meal in my head , normally we just get a sandwhich form the 7-11 , but it was so cold the idea of a hot meal sat quite well with me , especially when he spent the next five minutes driving to the resteraunt  describing his favourite dish the serve the, fried liver , now i was really looking forward to it , as he finished his description we pulled into the resteaunt to find it closed , oh its Monday i forgot the are closed , talk about anti climex , oh well onto the next place for curry and rice  which was handy as we bumped into the owner of Marusei koi farm , so agreed to vist there after lunch. I am never failed to be impressed here , there are so many varietys at all kinds of level of quality , and prices are very fair , so its never hard to buy koi here . We spent the next two or three hours bowling mainly sansai , sanke, kujaku and aka matsuba  . I think the lack of sleep finally caught up with me and i have totally lost count of what we purcahsed there , all i can say is the pictures are once again the pics are not as good as the koi . After buying from these ponds , we were taken to another where they were  littlle bigger , around 55-61cm , once again the pics diddnt do the fish much justice , and to be honest yoshiuke was in a good mood , and giving great prices so i diddnt want to spend too much time taking pics , so got videos as well . So many koi were bowled and purchased , it was late in the afternoon , so we decieded to drop into Miyatora , there were koi available , but everything i liked was sanke , and after going mad at Marusei , last thing i needed was more sanke  , so we moved onto the tosai house , and was given some intereasting options to think about .It was then time to return to the hotel after a very productive day . Sorry about the pictures , please take time  to look at the videos .First three pics are the Hoshikin showa and kohaku , nisai and 50-55cm . The second and third are female, but be sure abouthe first one . The next ten koi are all sansai 45-50cm plus , very good value for money . Next six are also sansai from Marusei . Last six are larger sansai from Marusei .