We arrived in the mega metropolis city of Tokyo Japan, having put our watches forward 9 hours after an 11-hour flight.
A little tired we ventured onto the train system to get to Tokyo station where we purchased our shinkansen tickets to Nagaoka. This was made easier, than the last visit, by the fact that the Japanese have installed many more English signs for use during the rugby world cup and Olympics coming up in the next few years.
Sitting back for the 2 1/2hour journey, watching the city scape turn into suburbs and then to countryside, marvelling at the efficiency and speed of the ‘Bullet’ train. (Up to 300kph).
Day 2, we woke for our breakfast and armed with a list of fish we required to fulfil our customer orders and store needs, ventured out for the fist day of visiting the Koi breeders.
You drive through the snow-capped mountains from breeder to breeder, all their fish are kept inside greenhouses and polytunnels to protect them from the severe winter weather. When the weather warms the fish to be grown on will be put inti the mud ponds until the Autumn harvest. The snow can reach a depth of more than 2 metres.
We are welcomed by the breeder and taken inside to view all their amazing Koi, the list now goes out of the window and we all act like children in sweet shops! Pointing out the fish we would like to have at home. We ask the price of a couple…… reality lands and we go back to plan A.
The smaller fish we start to purchase by the pond full, as we need many boxes for the stores back home. A sample box is put into a blue bowl for us to look over to make sure that the mix is colourful, we agree the price and we are told how many boxes will be made from this pond, the samples then put back in the pond.
The breeders specialise in certain varieties of Koi, which means their quality is maintained. Generation after generation of family members have been breeding koi so the knowledge is passed down father to son. We need to visit many breeders to get the best selection of fish, so off we go to the next one….
To view larger fish with the breeder you need to point to the fish you are interested in, we are then given a price and the fish will be bowled up to look at. Each fish is looked over for skin quality, markings and body confirmation before being purchased.
We visited 8 breeders per day and purchased fish from: – Yamazaki, Otsuka, Miyatora, Hirashin, Maruhiro, Marudo, Miya, Hosokai, Sekgichi and a new breeder for us, Kazuo Tanaka.
All the fish purchased on this visit are back in the stores just before Easter for resting and quarantining. This year the snow was melting quickly and by the time we left for the return journey home it had almost disappeared.
Here’s looking forward to the next trip….!