Hello from Japan!! I’ll be here with my host, Tony Prew of All Japan Koi, for a bit over a week. We’ll be visiting a number of Koi farms in the Niigata and Hiroshima and attending two agricultural shows where koi breeders show off some of their best stock. We’ll also be visiting two public aquariums and meeting with the curators and veterinarians at these facilities. Along the way we will also have the opportunity to visit some tropical fish retail facilities.
My goals, as they were with previous trips, are to gain a better understanding the Japanese koi industry, health management practices within the Japanese koi industry, improve my knowledge of koi quality assessment, continue to develop opportunities within the koi industry and public aquarium sector for collaboration in research, education and outreach.
I would also like to express my continued gratitude to Tony Prew and Mr. Hoshino Masaharu of Koda Koi Farm in Niigata and Mr. Joji Konishi of Konishi Koi Farm in Hiroshima for their hospitality and ongoing patience with my endless questions.
Below are a few images from our first full day in Niigata at the koi farms. We also visited a tropical fish retail facility with some beautiful planted aquariums!!
Below are a few images from the 2009 ZNA show which ended yesterday. The ZNA is an international koi hobbyist organization which was founded in Japan but now has chapters all over the world, including one in Portland, Oregon. Enjoy the pictures.
I’m in Japan again to continue learning about the Japanese Koi industry. I’m currently in Niigata, generally considered to be the birthplace of Nishikigoi (koi) keeping and production. What began as rice framers rearing carp as an additional food source in small rural villages has evolved into a major industry that rivals rice production and brings hobbyists and dealers from all over the world to this mountainous area of Japan. This is now an industry that really caters to the international markets. I’ve read that 80% of the koi produced in this area are exported out of Japan. Further a thriving sub-industry has developed catering to the international koi dealers and their customers, the koi Kichi (Koi crazy), that travel to this area every year to view and purchase nishikigoi, a unique example of agritourism. Below are a few images that illustrate the extent to which nishikigoi have become part of the landscape here in Ojiya city and the surrounding countryside especially as the local breeders and the small communities have developed an infrastructure to cater to the visiting koi kichi.
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.