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
Part 2

Text and images by Pam Spindola
Click images to enlarge

Igarashi Kazuto - kohaku, sanke, showa
The next stop is Ikarashi Koi Farm run by Kazuto Igarashi* and his wife and son. He is world renowned for raising top quality award winning koi bred from very prized bloodlines. Hobbyists from all over the world make Ikarashi a destination. Kaz makes an appointment for us to witness an ikeage or netting of a mudpond for the next day. This is going to be very exciting! However, there is still daylight today and we have more farms to visit. I am starting to get weary and have visions of koi swimming in my head.
* Ikarashi and Igarashi are the same in Kanji. Both versions of the name are used in Japan and overseas. His koi house says "Ikarashi" while most people call him Igarashi.

Ikarashi Koi Farm    

Mr. and Mrs. Ikarashi greeting
Barbara Flowers of Colorado

^ Kohaku | Outdoor ponds >


Marusaka's gin rin chagoi
The last koi breeder we visit is Marusaka (Teruo Hiroi) who breeds not only gosanke and the traditional varieties but has the more unusual koi specimens. The day we visited everyone was admiring his gin rin chagoi or tea colored ogon. The diamond scale sparkled in the setting sun! Also on display were examples of midori or green koi. At this stage, they appear more yellow than green. This farm is one of only a few that raises this rare variety.

Marusaka Koi Farm    

< Outdoor ponds | Midori ^

All varieties of koi

As an added attraction, the breeder took us across the street to the stables which housed the famous fighting bulls. Mr. Hiroi believes in preserving the tradition and culture that was a part of Japan over 1,000 years ago. Bullfighting, called “Tsunotsuki”, is similar to sumo wrestling. Two bulls that weigh up to one ton fight each other to determine which is more skillful and strong. I believe they fight for less than five minutes and neither is hurt. After viewing the bulls, we call it a day. Tired and exhilarated at the wonderful day we have spent, we return to the hotel for dinner and relaxation. This koi hunting is hard work! 

Marusaka fighting bulls
and Mr. Hiroi

Eat to be strong

Fighting bulls


Thursday morning we have a traditional breakfast at the hotel. Fortunately Kaz joins us to explain all the delicacies and how to eat them. On the artistically arranged platters are several varieties of fish as well as pickled vegetables and fermented beans and rice. Of course, miso and hot green tea are also served.

< Breakfast at Sun Rolla


Afterwards, we board the bus to travel 50 minutes to the west coast of Japan to visit a very famous gin rin kohaku breeder, Mr. Kiichi Hoshino of Teradomari Koi Farm. His brood stock is from the famous Hoshikin female kohaku and a gin rin male from the Suda Koi Farm. The Teradomari koi has a wonderful body shape and its gin (diamond scales) are said to be long lasting and will not fade as is customary with koi over 2 feet (61 cm) in length.

< Mr. Kiichi Hoshino of Teradomari

I was so impressed that the gin scales were so even and symmetrical and continued all the way up to the dorsal fin. Often there are blank spots and the scale is not reflective. Visiting Teradomari was like visiting a “jewelry store”! I couldn’t resist and now have one of the “living jewels” from this koi breeder in my pond! 

Teradomari's gin rin kohaku    

Our next stop was to visit Mr. Hisashi Hirasawa of Marudo Koi Farm. There were many people selecting koi here including well known dealers from the United States. It was a frenzy of activity. Mr. Hirasawa had an incredible selection of many varieties of koi.  

Many koi enthusiasts at
Marudo Koi Farm
He started his company in 1970 and had previously worked with Dainichi. Now, his son and daughter are an active part of the business, handling the koi and the customers. He mainly breeds gosanke but all the other varieties are available as well.

Mr. Hirasawa with grandson

According to an article I read, Mr. Hirasawa is well aware of the importance of genealogy, the mama and the papa, and the skill of the breeder. However, the environment plays an important role as one needs to keep the koi healthy and with a good appetite. His goal is to breed the most beautiful koi that anyone has ever seen and to have it win awards. I am hoping that as well! I selected a beautiful kohaku to hold. I am cautious as it is not of a classic design; the five step hi pattern drips onto the face of the koi. I think when it grows larger and has more bulk it will be an eye-catcher. 

Maruda showa >


 Marudo Koi Farm    

Selection of koi


Sanke - kohaku pattern with
small deep black accents

Kohaku - white koi with
beautiful red patches







Marudo selections 


At this point, I have a few koi in mind but I couldn’t stop thinking about a small budo goromo I spotted the day before. We had stopped briefly at the Takano Koi Farm, known for aigoromo and budo goromo. “Budo” translates to “grape” in English. This koi has a snow white background. The overlaying kohaku pattern is red and black giving the impression of a purplish grape color.

Mr. Yoshio Takano and the author
Kaz had selected a few beautiful examples for his clients. As a hobbyist who likes to enter a few shows and as a koi judge, I realize the importance of body shape, conformation. In fact many hobbyists will only buy females for that reason. I still loved this koi in spite of the fact it is probably a male. Hopefully I will be able put some girth on it in the next few years. While I made my first “adoption”, Mr. Takano proudly showed us some other beautiful koi he had bred. By the way, the Takano koi house is bright turquoise blue, the only one I saw of that color! 

Takano Koi Farm

Turquoise greenhouse



Budo goromo

The author's budo goromo


Our first stop Friday was at a father and son koi farm, Kanno, which specialized in goshiki. Mr. Kazuhiro Hirasawa and his son were definitely personable and very proud to show us what they had accomplished. I had never seen such striking examples of goshiki. The scales were evenly reticulated on the body and the hi pattern looked like carefully cut out forms without reticulation placed on top. The intensity and luminosity of the red seemed almost metallic. All of these attributes are very seldom seen and are quite beautiful.

< A four year old goshiki | Kanno father and son >

 Kanno goshiki


< Part 1 | Part 3 >

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