‘Doris was entered to BKKS ‘Koi 97’ and walked away with the award, she followed that up at ‘Koi ‘98’ but the story does not end there. Bill decided to ‘rest’ her in 1999 when a Kohaku of his took the Supreme Champion award.
One evening in early 2000 my telephone rang at home late at night and the brief conversation went as follows:-
‘Sakai San – genki’? (are you fine)
‘Kamiya San, Maruten Sanke, All-Japan 96cms’
‘X million Yen, you buy’?
‘As-at-ay telephone Sakai San’ (ring you back day after tomorrow)
‘Domo’ (thank you very much)
The lovely Ryo Kamiya had passed away earlier that year and his family had asked Toshio to sell his Koi on their behalf. I knew this Sanke well; she was a famous Koi that had just taken a worthy award at the All-Japan where I saw her last only a few weeks earlier and she was magnificent. She was also in the league of ‘Doris’ – a very rare Koi. Bill bought her and the Koi came into my own pond in March 2000, the nest day Bill came around and we gazed at her below but did not place her in a bowl. A few days later, Bill named her ‘Nellie’ after his mother-in-law.
The sight of my Koi life came to be at BKKS ‘Koi 2000’ when one show pond contained Nellie only and the next pond contained Doris only – I have never witnessed such magnificence before or since. Den and I ‘judged’ that show on the Friday evening and then retired to a nearby pub to give our verdicts over a pint. I had Nellie by a whisker, Den had Doris by a whisker – the judges said Doris and she had attained what no other UK Champion ever has achieved before and I cannot see it happening in the future – she was ‘Supreme Champion’ of the UK three times and now she was 98cms! On the Sunday afternoon, Manabu Ogata stood next to both ponds for over fifteen minutes and gazed at the Koi before him. I walked over to him and he congratulated me and then said – ‘Peter San, we cannot find Koi of this class anywhere in Japan today’ – I knew he was right!
The sad ending to this story took place at ‘Koi 2001’ where Doris was entered for the fourth time and the officials of the show thought they would ‘take a chance’ in only passing some of the mains water through dechlorinators before filling the show ponds. Doris was entered into one of the bad ponds and I watched her for a while as she tried to come to terms with the foul water. I then instructed Ian Miles who worked with me to remove her immediately and drive her back to my pond at home despite assurances from the criminals who professed to all that the water had been dechlorinated. By then other ponds were showing signs of disaster and the show was abandoned. Ian got Doris back to my pond alive around midnight and she dropped down to the base of the pond, he stayed all night by torchlight but Doris finally gave up at 6.00am. The story hit the national newspapers on the following Monday and two weeks later the one’s responsible publicly admitted to their unforgivable crimes brought on by sheer laziness and ‘couldn’t-care-less’ approach.
One evening at my home in early 2003, Tsuyoshi Kawakami rang me and told me of a Sanke he’d ‘acquired’ – he said she was world class although still far too small. I went over to see her three weeks later where he had her concealed from view in a pond which was covered. She was superb and due to go into a mud pond a few weeks later. I returned in autumn and waited for her to be harvested after asking Tsuyoshi to keep her until Bill Oakley arrived some days later. Bill bought her and she came back to the UK. You will never ever ‘find’ this class of Koi for sale by way of a chance visit to Japan, on the rare occasions such Koi come on the market, you will be advised – that’s if you are lucky???
Six years later, this very same Sanke became Supreme Champion at BKKS ‘Koi 2009’!
Top left ‘Lady Di’; Top Centre ‘Doris’; Top right ‘Nellie’; bottom left Kohaku BKKS Champion 2007 & 2008; Bottom right current 2009 BKKS Champion.
Apologies for poor photography but it should give an idea of the quality of these Koi. I know I will never find another Doris but I do feel lucky and very fortunate in actually being involved with locating and transporting rare specimens such as these true, world-class examples.
Whilst it is the dream of some enthusiasts to find a special Koi in nisai or sansai and keep and grow it with their own techniques to later take the best awards in larger sizes at major Koi shows – I have yet to see one instance where this has taken place. Of course, nothing is impossible but this is all I have witnessed up to now.
All breeders in Japan work endlessly to produce even one Koi of this class but the majority will never reach their goal. True, the larger volume breeders have a greater chance of finding just one because of the greater output they produce.
Despite the quality of parent stocks, despite their real reputations and some attempts to produce F1 & F2 hybrids from past champions; they hardly ever succeed in their labours as a very great contributing factor in producing just one world class specimen from millions of eggs is the single word of – LUCK! It will never ever become a science – and that is part of the fascination that surrounds Nishikigoi.
Thousand upon thousands of Koi have passed through my hands since that first day I wandered alone through the mountainsides of Yamakoshi and I have been fortunate in being there to observe all the changes made since then. In truth, I thought I already ‘knew a thing or two’ back then but it soon sank in that I really knew nothing at all. I do know now when the real learning and the real understanding started for me and it still goes on today. What a truly incredible journey that my obsession with coloured carp has taken me on.
I also am well aware that world demands for this class of Koi seen above has diminished over the past few years and this has been added to by world recession and incredibly poor exchange rates that are now with us. Thankfully, there are still some stalwarts amongst us who understand why some Koi produced cost small fortunes and will always continue to do so, just as long as Koi shows are held all around the world!