Saturday, October 19, 2013

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Mushigame Mountains! 13-10-17 (pt. 1)




Today’s adventure begins on a small wet road, on the side of the Mushigame Mountains. It’s 8 am and we’re lost.

The Mushigame Mountains are absolutely beautiful. Complemented with the heavy rain, It seems almost tropical. Like something you’d see in Costa Rica. They’re completely green, no sign of soil is visible. The roads on the other hand, are pretty scary. They’re maybe 10 feet wide, and at the turns around 15. The bushes and trees pretty much come right to the road, so no emergency lanes. The whole mountain road is switchbacks, tunnels and bridges. Oh, and did I mention Akane has never on this road before, because she has only had her license for roughly 6 months.




One of the many tunnels we traveled thru

Finally after an hour of driving around, we come to familiar territory. We end up pulling over to check out the view and so I can snap some quick pictures. The farm we pulled into belongs to Maruju, but he is out harvesting koi at his mud ponds. I take a few pictures of the view, and Ken quickly enters koi buying mode. We go inside his green house, and are taken back by how many beautiful Goromo he has. All of them are in one tank, so we know they’re the same age, but we don’t know price. As I’m trying to take a picture of a certain Goromo, that Ken wants, Maruju pulls up. He has with him a truck full of large koi, and a camera crew. The camera crew is there to interview him on his harvest and film him unload the koi. This time of the year koi are very popular, because of all the fall harvesting going on. And, Ojiya, the city we’re in, is known for koi, and mud ponds.




We quickly see if Maruju can give us prices before he starts with the unloading  After 15 minutes, Shawn and Ken have both purchased some koi. Now time to see what kind of koi Maruju has pulled from his pond. Maruju had some of the largest koi I had ever seen. There was one Tancho Sanke that was easliy over 36 inches. These things were beasts. I was able to snap a few pictures of the koi being hand transferred to a holding take. After that, we said our goodbyes and head back into the mountains.




We didn’t have any set destinations, mainly killing time waiting for Marudo. He was scheduled to return from his mud ponds around 5pm. So, our next stop was at Marusaka. At this farm the green house was stocked with koi, but all the buying went on under his house. Under there was where he kept his prime pick 3 year olds. We were able to get a Tancho Kujaku, Asagi, and many others. Afterwards, we checked out his nisai, and purchased few up, including a Gin Rin Chagoi, one of my all time favorite koi. The exciting part of this visit was to see his prize fighting bulls. Those things are huge! I didn’t want to get to close, or use my flash when taking their picture. I didn’t want any kind of stampede to deal with. I didn’t know this but bull fighting is very popular is this part of Japan. The bulls don’t actually fight to the death or anything, but instead lock horns and see which bull is more powerful or has higher stamina.


After all the driving, and buying it was lunch time. We headed back to Masato’s house where we took a break and waited for him to come home so we could go get some food. Ramen time! The ramen shop we went to this time was owned by the older brother of the other ramen shop we went to previously. Same rules apply though, eat fast and eat all. I was a little more successful this time around.

We pulled up to Marudo koi farm around 4:45 and he was already there, and had already unloaded his harvest. So, we went straight into buying mode. His greenhouse is the largest one yet. Inside there were roughly seven tanks. Each very large, and very full. All stocked with gosake. Shawn and Ken bowled up some Kohaku and Sanke, looked them over, took pictures, wrote down sizes, and threw some back. Second pond had some Tancho, that Shawn wanted for a customer, looked them over and picked the best one. Third pond, more Sanke and Kohaku. All beautiful, which made buying very difficult. Lots of fish to look at, and because they’re all the same type of fish, it takes a skillful eye to find the best one. Luckily Marudo’s son, and his son’s wife were there to help out. Everyone was busy either catching fish, bowling fish, moving fish, and everyone was sweating. This is the first time since I’ve been in Japan that I actually felt the heat, and humidity I imagined a greenhouse would feel like. I had to step outside for a few seconds just to let the cold wind cool me down. After all the hustle and bustle, we left happy knowing the fish were the best Marudo had to offer. We got so many, that he put ours in its own separate pond.




Marudo Koi Farm




Marudo catching Tancho Kohaku



Taking video of koi, the umbrella is used to reduce glare


Fun times!


After wards we headed back to Masato’s house to rest. Now, usually we would call it a day and get some food and drink, then go to sleep. Not today. We still had to travel an hour to go see our good friend Masayuki Sekiguchi. I’ll have that post up shorty.. pt. 2 up shortly!


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