1981. Kozaburo Miya – Ojiya City.
I was looking for Koi around the Tokyo area with Megumi when, one evening he told me that we would make an early start at 5.30 the next day and drive the long road to Ojiya City where he would introduce me to a very great friend of his.
He mentioned that this man probably knew more about Nishikigoi than anyone else he had known. We finally arrived at 4.00pm that day and Megumi drove me to a large, ancient wooden house near to Ojiya station.
A lady ushered us inside and we walked into the main living room where a tall man was smoking a cigarette and watching television.
Upon seeing Megumi, he immediately turned off the television and Megumi and he bowed together. Megumi then introduced me to him and then explained that his friends name was Kozaburo Miya.
He then further explained to me that Kozaburo had been brought up with Nishikigoi and Nishikigoi breeders for all of his life but, as he was only the second oldest brother to Mr. Miya of the Miyaishi Koi farm in Uragara he could not inherit any of the wealth of the Miya family.
In view of this he was trying to develop a Nishikigoi business on his own and that, as a result, his family had disowned him completely.
Kozaburo, through Megumi, told me he had two mud ponds which he would harvest the following day for me especially for my first choice of the harvests but also insisted that we should leave the house right now, despite the darkness coming in.
We, once again, climbed into our car in the fading light and headed up to the mountains of Yamakoshi – this was to be my very first visit to Kaneko in Nigorisawacho and Tanaka (Marusyo) in Yomogihira. Kozaburo was warmly welcomed by all the Nishikigoi breeders we visited.
Kozaburo had an ‘eye’ for Koi that I can only compare to that of the ‘eye’ of Hiroi Seiji. And, in the ensuing days, he taught me more about Nishikigoi than I ever thought was possible. He explained to me how important that the frame of the Koi had to be perfect with no sagging body and thin tail area. He also explained to me of the value of the pattern and the quality of the lustre of the skin. All of this information from Kozaburo was conveyed to me by ‘Men-Chan’.
The next morning Kozaburo said that, before he harvested his mud ponds, he wanted to show me a breeder who was his very good friend in Kashiwazaki and bred excellent Kin Showa and Shiro Utsuri so, at 8.30am. we started our journey.
I found and purchased many good Nishikigoi from this breeder who I can only remember his name as Mr. Hiroi but his Koi were excellent and sold readily once they arrived back in the UK.
I learned so much about Nishikigoi from Kozaburo Miya who genuinely wanted to teach me properly. I respected him greatly for his advice and his teachings and paid him accordingly as he had little money, Kozaburo sincerely thanked me for my gesture, and I, in turn, thanked him sincerely for his valuable advice.
Later that same day, I witnessed my very first Koi harvest in Japan. My small part in harvesting Kozaburo’s two mud ponds was to be an experience that I would never forget.
Men-Chan and Kozaburo carefully extended the net to it’s full length and then proceed to drag it around the entire perimeter of the mud pond in order to net and catch all the Koi. I bought several Koi from these harvests including one superb Shiro Bekko that was sold almost immediately on my return.
Next, Kozaburo travelled with Men-Chan and myself, by car, to a far distant Isawa where Kozaburo showed me one single Kohaku alone in one pond. She was so beautiful that I used her as my leading Koi on all my advertisements in magazines. I bought the Kohaku and she landed back in the UK in perfect condition after which, Ed Clark from Bromley bought her from me.
We next went to Saitama to see a whole collection of Koi previously belonging to a gentleman who had just died suddenly. His wife had contacted Kozaburo to see if he could assist her to sell these Koi. We all arrived to find two Koi ponds full of the most wonderful Koi one could possibly imagine and all over 60cms long with the odd one or two exceeding 75cms – VERY big in those days.
In all there must have been some 125 Koi there in just about every variety so we started the long process of measuring each one and taking individual Polaroid photographs. Afterwards we went inside the house where I explained to the lady that I had to pay Kozaburo commission on the purchase, which she said she understood, and that I had to pay packing and transportation costs to Narita.
After a short time we arrived at a price suitable to us both and I paid her accordingly before we commenced the very long drive all the way back to Ojiya.
Over the next few days Kozaburo introduced me to many small but very high class breeders that even Megumi did not know. On several occasions, he steered me away from some Koi I was thinking of buying because of minor deformities I had not noticed but his incredible ‘eye’ had.
Over the few days I had the pleasure to be guided around Yamakoshi with Kozaburo and I soon noticed immediately how much professional respect he commanded with all the Nishikigoi breeders we visited. Many treated him as almost ‘Royalty’ and welcomed him with open arms!
I am so grateful to have had the honour of being taught so much about Nishikigoi by Kozaburo and had the pleasure of accompanying him for three more sorties into Yamakoshi over the next few years before he sadly and suddenly passed away.
My first impressions – ‘a Master at work’.