Our koi expert Pam Spindola details koi varieties in other issues of WGI Online. Each will open in a new window for easy reference.
Introduction | Sanke | Showa | Utsurimono

Koi Hunting and Achieving a Dream, Pam Spindola Makes
A Journey of the Spirit to Japan
Page 2

Text and images by Pam Spindola
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The next day, we visited a well known koi hobbyist and friend in Tokyo, Mr. Shige Takahashi. He is very active in a hobbyist organization in Japan, the Ryunkai Association. His koi pond houses many award winning koi including Grand Champions. In Japan, award winning koi are truly jewels to see, almost perfection in size, body shape, depth of color, and beautiful patterns.

< Mr. Takahashi hand feeding his koi >

I asked him for suggestions on how to select a koi in Niigata. He said to look for a good body and, most important, the whiteness of the skin. Secondly he said that the kiwa or the border between two colors should be sharp. Lastly, he said look for the odome or the space after the end of the pattern before the tail. We were very honored that Mr. Takahashi took time out of his busy schedule to show us his pond.   

Kaz, friend and guide for the entire trip, took us to a very classic garden he remembered from his childhood, Koishikawa Korakuen. The construction of this idyllic setting began in 1629 and was finished in 30 years. The landscaping represents famous geographic features, only miniaturized. We spent an hour and a half strolling along the garden paths which followed the edge of the pond. It certainly was an escape from the city except for the outline of the Tokyo Dome which was right behind the park. Another highlight of the day was seeing the Prince and his entourage of five black limousines pass by us on the street. We were told that this was a rare occurrence.  

 
Koishikawa Garden with
Tokyo Dome in the distance


Engetsukyo Bridge (full moon bridge)

 
Horai Island

 
Small water feature by exit of garden

The next morning we visited the Ginza, the Rodeo Drive of Tokyo, to see the opening of a department store. At 10:00 am music is played and the sales associates line up to welcome everyone to the Mitsukoshi Department Store. As we enter, each individual bows and welcomes us with a Japanese phrase. We visited all the floors from clothing, home goods, accessories, but the favorites were the two basement levels which feature food -- fresh fish and poultry as well as exquisite bakery treats and prepared meals to go.

 Morning opening at Mitsukoshi Department Store >

 

Delicacies at Mitsukoshi Department Store


We hurry back to the hotel where Kaz awaits us to make sure we board the correct bullet train for Niigata from Tokyo Station. This large station is a myriad of gates and platforms. Fortunately the signs also have numbers and English lettering. Our platform is labeled Shinkansen Joetsu and is track number 20 or 21 for Nagaoka, the largest city with a number of hotels and restaurants in the Niigata Prefecture. We board the train with instructions that someone will meet us and take us to our hotel, an “onsen” or typical Japanese hot springs spa. Kaz is planning on meeting the rest of the group arriving in Tokyo and will join us the following day.


Bullet train to Niigata

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