In Depth Tategoi

Another significant part of the dealing revolves around the past successes of the breeder in question, the customer will know if the breeder has had results in the past or not.

Tategoi Go-SankeThe customer will know if the ‘Koi World’ is ‘buzzing’ about the current stocks produced by this breeder – famous or not so famous. In any case the breeder knows of the potential customers and the potential customers, in turn, know about the breeder. It’s simply called ‘business’ – and the guys that get to the situation of having pots and pots of money did not get into that same situation by being stupid, please take my word for that’!

How many million eggs have been hatched to produce just one Koi of this class?

By now the reader will know I am talking about extremely special Tategoi – not your ‘run-of-the-mill’ examples.

These Tategoi are always Go-Sanke and, it is said, that each single one of this quality is found from around 30,000,000 eggs produced in Japan in a given single year. If a sale is agreed the breeder will give recommendations as to how the Koi should be grown in future years, many breeders would suggest they keep the Koi at their farm and grow her in the mud pond from late May to early October each year. Others may suggest the Koi is grown in special, indoor heated concrete ponds and so on. Rarely, if ever, does a collector buy such a special Koi and attempts to produce potential excellence by keeping it in his own pond.

Another important point worth a mention here is that I have been asked on many occasions by a customer to find and purchase a particular breeder’s ‘Best Tategoi’. I often try to explain that five better ones may have already been sold less than 2 or 3 days ago to other collectors and the ‘Best Tategoi’ offered to me will most certainly be the breeder’s best Tategoi on the day, but ‘Best Tategoi’??? – did the same breeder have a better one last year? – has another breeder a ‘better’ one right now?

When asking a breeder to net some of his Tategoi for inspection in a bowl in order to ask for prices this can be irritating, especially for first-time visitors. When a price is requested the breeder may take 5 minutes or more to give his reply. I quite understand why there is a delay but many cannot understand why the breeder does not simply pull out a pocket book containing pictures and prices of each of his Koi for all to see! The reason for this is that Tategoi prices are quoted on a particular day to a particular person. The breeder takes a long time to seriously inspect the Koi within the bowl and is thinking as to whether the Koi has improved or deteriorated since the last time he inspected it closely and this could have been three months earlier! If a Koi is not purchased on a particular day it may become ten times more expensive in two weeks time or ten times less expensive according to the eye of the breeder. The delay in the time a breeder gives a price is purely because he does not wish to make a serious mistake in under-pricing the particular example.

A prime example of a rare and unique Tategoi was a Kohaku bred by the Murata Company in Chiba which was purchased at Nissai (two years old) by Kawakami Tsuyoshi (Torazo) in Uragara, Niigata. Both Tsuyoshi & the Murata Company had a gut feeling that this Koi could become extremely special and the Koi was grown for three more years in Niigata by Tsuyoshi. At six years old she was then sold to a Tokyo collector who asked Tsuyoshi to grow her for a further year. After the next October harvest a famous breeder and friend of Tsuyoshi, namely Hiroi Seiji from Ojiya, telephoned the owner, after seeing the Koi once more, and bought the Koi from him – obviously at another profit, and immediately won the Ojiya ‘No-gyo-sai’ show with this specimen in October 1995. I attended the All-Japan Show in January 1997 and the same Koi, then owned and entered by the late Ryo Kamiya from Tokyo – obviously at another profit but was not good enough to be included in Supreme Champion or Kokugyo awards – even so, this Koi was still, very much, Tategoi. To prove the point, the same Koi was entered in the 1998 All Japan Show and took Supreme Champion Award!

Another example that springs to mind is a Matsunosuke-bloodline Sanke produced by Toshio Sakai in Isawa some 19 years ago. She was grown in a shallow pond near his home for three years and then sold to another breeder near Nagoya who kept her for a further 8 years before contacting Mr. Harada of Miyoshike to see if he had clients who were interested in purchasing her. A collector was found, the Koi was purchased and then kept at Miyoshike’s best concrete pond until she was just ready to enter at the All-Japan show in 1995 where she took Supreme Champion at 17 years old! – that is Tategoi!

These world-beaters are incredibly difficult to come by, even if money presents no barriers at all. For Go-Sanke varieties in larger sizes one has to find an example with perfect shape; perfect volume; unblemished skin; superb pigmentation and overall perfect swimming presentation when entered to a show. However the previous, essential points are just for basic starters as one must also find an example with all these previous points together with a unique and attractive pattern that will impress the majority of judges, most of whom are professionals and not so easily impressed! Add to this the final requirement – just to really complicate matters – these Go-Sanke must be over 80cms in size before they can even be considered by the judges for Supreme Champion. Many believe that most Go-Sanke will exceed 80cms when, in truth, very, very few ever reach this size at all. The ones that go on to reach, or exceed 90cms, can literally be counted on two hands at any given time and most of these have noticeable defects mostly due to old age.

Just as a matter of interest, at the 32nd. All-Japan Show held in Tokyo in January 2000, over 3,400 Nishikigoi were entered but only 38 Go-Sanke over 80cms were entered and only one exceeded 90cms. Whilst swimming alongside them in the same entry ponds were some 120 non Go-Sanke varieties competing for other awards.

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