In the early 1970s upon graduating from high school, I went in the Koi business without learning from anybody. My parents were office workers, but since we always had rice fields in the Shiodani district and since I had always watched my relatives and seniors run Koi businesses, I wanted to use the fields for growing Koi, not rice. I was drawn to their dedication for Koi raising, and at the same I became attached to Nishikigoi itself, too. At the time, the winter custom was to work away from home, but I couldn’t do that because my mother was sick. So I spent the winter feeding the Koi in the mountain ponds, and that was probably the reason I became attracted to “the beauty and charm of Nishikigoi”
Seiji Tomono(Koi no Kansuke)
Mr. Seiji Tomono is the raiser of “Scarlet Queen”, Grand Champion of the All Japan Nishikigoi Show in 1994, and self-taught creator of the brand called “Kansuke Kohaku.” Even though he suffered major damages from the 2004 Niigata Earthquake, he continues to give all of his passion in producing the “New Kansuke Kohaku”.
It was difficult not to study under anyone, but I learned about Nishikigoi by listening to my seniors around me converse over drinks. For example, they talked about “choosing a certain Koi will get good patterns,” or “the offspring of a thick-skinned female and a bright red male will be good.” I learned about crossings and the selection of parent from their casual conversions. Of course, just because I heard how to do it doesn’t mean that I got good results right away. I repeated failures dozens of times.
At the present, my Kohaku is famous, but the first good appraisal I was given was for my Showa. It was difficult to get hi on a Showa at the time, but I was able to get fine hi on mine. Until then, I was attracted only to the Nishikigoi itself, but at that moment I started to realize the attractiveness of Nishikigoi as my career. And in 1983 when production of Showa and Kohaku caught on, I put up my sign as “Koi no Kansuke”.
Since then, I set a goal on becoming champion at national Koi shows. It took me 10 years to raise “Scarlet Queen”, Grand Champion of The 30th All Japan Nishikigoi Show held by Zen Nippon Airinkai. The Kohaku of the Shiodani district was known to have nice patterns but not to grow very big, so I focused on making them big. I made efforts by visiting Dainichi Koi Farm to acquire breeding methods and by asking Koi lovers in order to have prize-winning Koi as my oyagoi. I was very happy when all of my efforts culminated in winning the Grand Champion. The attraction of Scarlet Queen is the outstanding quality of the shiroji and beni and the “Pink beni.” This type of beni was known not to grow because of its hard ground, but it did.
I believe that Nishikigoi change daily because they are living creatures. There is no correct Nishikigoi because they change at a bewildering pace depending on present trends and technological progresses. That is why breeders are required to have strong beliefs in “producing their ideal Nishikigoi.” I received a major blow by the 2004 Niigata Earthquake. I lost many female oyagoi that I had bred up to then, but I haven’t forgotten my belief in “producing a Koi that would be loved by everybody,” and at the present, I am committed to producing the “New Kansuke Kohaku.”
My ideal Kohaku would have a beautiful shiroji, not just good quality beni. Thick shiroji with a pure white color is the best. Thick skin with fukurin is likely to become yellowish, so I want to produce Koi with fine shiroji. My recent goals are to create a bumpy-looking Koi with nice shiroji and solid “fukurin, and of course, good body conformation. *Fukurin is a swell in between scales. A solid fukurin gives a Koi a dynamic look and brings out charm that cannot be seen in a young one. It’s not that I have lost all of the Kansuke genealogy. I still have two to three sansai that can be used as oyagoi, so I am crossing them to produce a New Kansuke with solid fukurin, thick beni, and fine shiroji,
I would like for worldwide Koi lovers to raise Koi that live long, not only one that has a good appearance. Even if a Koi does not look so nice at the tosai stage, it will become fine if it is of good quality. The fukurin which I recommend is something you can’t see when the Koi is young, so I hope you have the chance to see and feel it by raising a large sized Koi. But it’s not always the case that the breeders’ opinions are correct in raising Koi, so it would be nice to learn more about Nishikigoi together with many Koi lovers.