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 3

Text and images by Pam Spindola
Click images to enlarge

In two hours, after a very comfortable and quiet ride, we arrive and see our names on a sign held by a very pleasant man. He quickly guides us through the terminal to the car and we ride for 45 minutes up a small mountain to our spa, Hotel Sun Rolla, where we will stay for the next few days. This area, Echigo Kawaguchi, is agricultural, well known for its rice and vegetables.  

Hotel Sun Rolla    


One of 12 dishes served during
an elegant private dinner


View from our room by day -
the Shinano River

Outdoor hot pool

Traditional breakfast - sashimi,
pickled vegetables, fish,
radish, seaweed, green tea

The breeders usually have several locations within the area. Especially during the fall season when they are draining the mudponds and meeting with clients, it is very important to make an appointment. To do otherwise might risk making a long trip for nothing.  

The next day, Wednesday, we begin the first of our four day koi hunt. We are joined by several other couples who are accompanied by their dealer, Mike Swanson from Minnesota. His son Devin is spending the year in Japan working with one of the most renowned breeders, Mr. Hisashi Hirasawa of Marudo Koi Farm. After all the introductions are made we climb into our mini-bus and anticipate our first stop. Passing the headquarters of the All-Japan Breeders Association, we come to Isa Koi Farm, known for excellent gosanke, especially showa. However, we see excellent examples of all varieties.

The plan was to spend a few days surveying the koi, asking the breeders to hold any we were interested in, and then returning to purchase what we wanted. Most of the breeders want payment in Japanese yen. However, there were a few who accepted charge cards, which is so much more convenient for foreigners. In Japan changing money is not a simple matter as in other countries. The only ATM machines that work with American cards seem to be found in the convenience stores.

Isa Koi Farm was full of excitement and activity. Everyone was curious about the koi being brought in from the mudponds. I suddenly felt anxiety creeping into my gut as I wondered how I was going to select one or two koi from all of these wonderful specimens, and which would fit into my budget.  

Mr. Hajime Isa and Kaz

Showa, 60 cm (24 "), three years old

Isa Koi Farm

^ Measuring newly arrived koi, Mike Swanson in background

No time to waste, we clamored into the bus for our next stop, Suda Koi Farm. Mr. and Mrs. Suda have been long time friends of mine as Mr. Suda has judged our local show on a few occasions and the family has visited ours when they were in California. I was so excited to see them.

Mr. Suda is said to have originated the long finned or “butterfly koi”. He also specializes in unusual varieties of koi. In addition, he raises non-ornamental fish for other industries. His son, Kazutaka, is now running the business. After looking at the ponds, we say good-bye with a plan to meet Saturday night to celebrate Mrs. Suda’s birthday.

Mr. and Mrs. Atsushi Suda's house

Suda Koi Farm

Selecting and sorting koi

Greenhouse tanks

Outdoor holding tanks

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