Monday, October 21, 2013

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Pt. 2

Right now, I’m sitting in one of the green houses at Koda farm. The pumps are currently turned off, and it smells like cigarettes. There are two Dutch guys talking to one another, eyeing fish that we have most likely already bought (good reason to get to Japan early in the season). As they look, Masato patiently waits for them to point out a fish to see. It’s strangely familiar to working with customers at Mystic Koi. I never pictured Masato having interactions with customers like this, but I guess selling fish, is selling fish. Outside the weather is crisp and clear as it just rained the day before. And surprisingly the temperature inside is perfect. In the background I can hear Shawn, and Akane also busy working with customers; splashing water, answering questions, and carts rolling around. The best part of it all, I finally have some free time. So, here we go.

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Sekiguchi’s farm is located in Shiozawa, which is just at the border of the Niigatta Provence. From Masato’s house, it’s about an hour and a half to get there. Me being tired and swamped with work, I naturally stared out the window the entire time. I cannot express how much beauty I see everywhere. The way the houses look, and how every single one has a vegetable garden. Not always big, but I can guarantee you that it’s there. It’s very easy to lose track of time, and get lost in the view.

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This is actually Koda but I wanted to give you an idea on the scenery. 

We arrive at Sekiguchi’s farm close to 4:00pm. Again, first rule to buying koi is quickly forgotten as we are eager to see Sekiguchi’s famous Showa. The main greenhouse looks to be undergoing some construction inside, but that was no concern to me. I was still taken back by how pretty (yeah, that’s right, pretty) it was. Now, I’ve seen many greenhouses since I arrived, but not one was as architecturally pleasing as his. Made entirely out of glass, the roof reaches up roughly 20-25 feet, and slopes all the way down on the other side. Chains on the inside open up windows along one of the walls, and I’m pretty sure ducts on the ceiling. The whole thing was just incredible; I literally could not wait to take some pictures of it. But, dangit, it was getting late and in Japan when 5pm comes around it’s dark.

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Once inside, I could see that because of the construction the lights were not working very well… I think one of them even had a black light in it, you know, for when the koi have wild parties. So Shawn and Ken had to act fast. As usual Ken was first to grab a net and start selecting. And, as usual he was done within 10 minutes. Ken has told me many times that koi breedes do not like indecisive people.  Chose quickly, because you should already know what you’re looking for and be able to spot it. In and out, fast-fast-fast. Now it was Shawn’s turn. Taking a little longer, he was still done in a respectable time. They then turned their attention to the older Showa. One of the main reasons Sekiguchi Showa are so famous is their sumi (black). It’s very dark, and goes very deep, so It will last longer. Pulling up three or four Showa, from a distance, they almost look like Shiro Utsuri, but as you get closer it gets clear that the beni (red) is going to come in very strong, as it is also very deep. By this time, the sun had gone down and we were relying only on the little light in the green house, Sekiguchi’s desk lamp, and our good judgment. We made our selection, wrote down the size, price and I photographed them. We finished and were ready to move on, but Sekiguchi had not yet harvested his younger koi (one reason it’s not a good idea to come early in the season) so we would have to come back at a later date.

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Having finished with our koi buying for the day, it was finally time to rest, and eat. Because we were so far from our hotel, and Masato’s home, we were going to be staying in Shiozawa; but not at Masayuki’s house. He had made reservations for us to stay at Hotel Green Plaza Joetsu, the largest hotel I had ever seen. I mean large in the most literal terms. Huge. Massive! It was so big that a good chunk of the hotel didn’t even have the lights in the parking lot or the hotel itself turned on. It was straight black. And I’m pretty sure I saw at least three different entrances. All as big as the ones you’d see at any respectable hotel in Las Vegas. The place was big. Once we got our hotel keys, and figured out which wing we’d be staying at, and we went to get ready for dinner.

 

-Ryan

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