I’ve travelled to Japan to spend a week visiting a number of koi breeders around Niigata and Hiroshima and to attend the ZNA All Japan Nishikigoi (Koi) show. I was invited by Tony Prew and Arthur Hixon of Oregon Koi Gardens to travel with them on one of their annual buying trips. My travel was very generously sponsored by Gil and Jan Gilman of Peaceful Ponds.
I arrived in Narita international airport last night on a flight from Hawaii (more about that part of the trip later) and met Tony. We then caught a train into Tokyo. From there we traveled on the Shinkasen (the Bullet Train) to Nagaoka. Then a one of Tony Prew’s friends, a local breeder, Mr. Hoshino met us and drove us to our hotel in Ojyia City. After a good night’s sleep and some breakfast we were off to the Koi Show.
This show is the ZNA All Japan Koi Show. It is in its 44th year and is the premier show for hobbyists in Japan.
One feature that I found interesting was their solution to the Japanese style vs the English style koi show. For those of you that are not familiar with these terms in a Japanese style show all the fish in the same size class and variety are generally placed in the same tank for judging. This method presents some serious risks to the fish in terms of potential disease transmission in that you are mixing fish from different sources with potentially unknown health histories. The solution to this problem was the English style koi show in which all fish from the same owner are placed together in one tank regardless of size and variety. This presents a problem for the Judges as they cannot compare all of the fish of the same class side-by-side. They must circulate between all of the tanks. However, the risk of disease transmission is significantly reduced provided people keep their hands out of the water and all equipment is adequately disinfected between tanks and measures are taken to reduce the risk of splash between tanks.
The the solution the Japanese have now developed is to hold the fish in bags for judging where they are grouped by size and variety. Once they are judged the bags surfaces are disinfected and the fish are transferred to tanks allocated to each owner in the English style fashion. These plastic bags apparently have an improved optical quality that allows the judges to adequately assess the fish. Further, the fish that I observed appeared to be quite calm and in general I did not see many fish with overt signs of stress. An interesting solution. I will be curious to see how this method pans out over the next few years.