Thursday, October 17, 2013

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13-10-16 KODA!

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Today we vist Koda Koi Farm. Located in the mountains of Kawaguchi, it is home to the best Goshiki in all Japan and where we get most of our Tosai, and Nisai.

Japan currently going through a typhoon, which I’m told is one of the worst. Luckly for us we only get the tail end of it, with us being further up North. But, it does bring lots of rain. I personally enjoy that type of weather, it brings a nice change from the usual Southern California heat. Although it doest make harvesting koi a little more interesting.

We met up with Masato Hoshino in the morning, not at his green houses, but far off in the mountains at one of his many spread out mud ponds. Koda mud ponds are designed like all Japanese ponds, in it’s a giant dirt hole, filled with water. There is no filter or pump, and the water comes straight from the mountain. He had already drained most of the water into a nearby river like runoff, and was already finishing up with bringing all of his fish in, except for a few that were still on the loose. I managed to snap a few pictures of him before he had finished up.

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How Masato keeps track of fish, each rock represents 4 fish.

Back at his farm, which is where he keeps and sells his fish, he still had to unload them. Unloading the koi involves Masato individually removing each fish, which was over 30 large 3 year old’s, measuring them, categorizing, and then photographing them. All in the freezing wind, and harsh rain. I was very impressed with his grandfather there helping him with all of this. Masato takes each fish out of the tank that is in the back of his truck, and puts them into a bucket which has fresh pond water and acts as a bath to remove excess mud from the gill. From there the fish is placed in one of two tubs to help categorize which koi goes in which green house. This also serves as a second bath before their final destination. Then on to the measuring, photographing and finally in their new home until they are sold to Mystic Koi.

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After all of this, Shawn, Ken, and myself are very hungry. So we leave Masato to work, and we three and Masato’s girlfriend leave to find a nice place to eat. We settle down at one of the best ramen shops in all of Northern Japan. Eating ramen is an experience on it’s own. There is basically two rules; eat it fast, and eat is all! I pretty much failed at both. But, it was very tasty, and I feel like they gave me the most. Also worth noting that you order your ramen at what looks like a vending machine, except the item you get is a ticket with what you ordered on it. From there we head to Masato’s home for a couple hours of work, and sleep. Ramen is tiring.

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SO MUCH!

Back to Koda farm! Now, this is my first time in Japan, and when we were headed to my very first koi farm, Shawn had told me that there are several rules to buying koi. BUT, the most important rule, and the first rule is that you do not buy koi after 5pm. The reason? it’s dark. When it gets dark, obviously you have to use artificial lighting, and that florescent lighting makes all of the fish appear nicer than they could be.

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Koda Koi Farm, Kawaguchi, Japan.

We get there at 4:45pm.

By this time, the rain has stopped, and the surrounding scenery is stunning. The sky is light blue, with dark grey clouds everywhere, the air is fresh and we’re finally ready to buy koi! The main greenhouse has three tanks. Which just tells the age of the fish. The fish themselves have different prices. So, Shawn quickly starts to select fish Masato pulls them up and I snap a quick picture. This goes on for maybe 45 mins. After which we move onto another tank, and repeat process. While the fish are bowled up, we get their price and size. Examine each one very closely, throw back one here and there, and try and find certain koi for a certain customer. After the first tank we move onto a second greenhouse, to check out Koda 2 year olds. Buy a few, take some more pictures, and then back to the big guys. In the 4 year old tank, there were some beautiful koi, one of which was my favorite, a beautiful Goromo. After about 3 and a half hours, were were finished.

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It was a very exciting day. and only my first whole day in Japan! Tomorrow we plan on going to several other breeders, but mainly Marudo, and Sekeguchi. I’m excited.

dsc_0477Chicken sashimi!

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End of day!

-Ryan

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