1982 – Unknown Koi breeder – near Koguriyama village.
I was taken here by Naoji Takanashi to this outlet high in the mountains and totally isolated from any other buildings after passing many mud ponds which contained thousands of young goldfish.
Instead all there was to be seen were rice paddies, mud ponds, pine forests, mountains above us and way down below, some miles distant, I could see the Shinano River heading towards Nagaoka City.
This outlet was completely outdoors with around seven long concrete ponds next to each other that were heaving with nissai and sansai Koi in many varieties.
The only shelter here was a small corrugated metal shed near to the ponds.
There were several other buyers there apart from myself and I also purchased Koi on that sunny morning. Naoji only told me his name was ‘Hiroi’ – I later discovered that the mountainsides were full of breeders with that same name! I wondered just how this outlet could trade, right out in the sticks and with no dwelling house, bearing in mind of the snowfalls that would arrive this high up.
I often tried to find this same outlet on many future visits with no luck at all. It was not until around 1995 when Dennis and I had a day spare for ‘exploring’. We found ourselves in Koguriyama and decided to follow a road leading out of the village that we had never taken before in order to find out where it would take us.
We soon started to climb steeply towards the mountains ahead and the road took many sharp bends and curves – the view below was breathtaking.
After a further five minutes or so I immediately ‘found’ my long-lost Koi farm on the right to find it totally deserted, the ponds contained water and nothing else. No vehicles were parked outside and no information of contact names or telephone numbers were displayed.
We continued onwards right to the summit of the mountain and eventually came into the very top part of Mushigame village after witnessing some of the most incredible views in all of Yamakoshi – during that drive, we had never seen any other vehicle at all.
We made our way to Masaru Saito’s home and explained the road we had taken before describing the breeder’s outlet we had passed. Masaru immediately told me that the road we had taken was closed in winter, his name was Hiroi and that the outlet was only open for the last two weeks in October. This was his ‘once-annually’ opportunity to sell his Koi production after harvesting them. Any Koi remaining afterwards were sold via the local auction sites.
I have passed by this farm on many occasions since then to take guests for views to photograph but have never seen the outlet open for business since my first visit.
My first impressions here were – ‘total isolation and self-confusion’.