Featured Breeder
Seiji Hiroi(Kokugyo-kan)
Seiji Hiroi

Mr. Hiroi of Kokugyo-kan is known as the one and only Tateshi*1 of Niigata. He produces Kohaku but mainly purchases Koi from other breeders to refine and finish. He has produced various superior Koi until today and has won many awards in the All Japan competitions.

Kokugyo-kanAt Kokugyo-kan, we do not produce many Koi but refine and finish the Koi that we buy and eventually sell them. This is how my father did it when he first became a specialized producer of Koi in this area. He is the one who started the Nishikigoi auction market. Koi have always been very familiar to me because my father was in this business. Since I wasn’t very good at socializing, I wanted to work with Koi instead of becoming a businessman. When finishing and selling the purchased Koi, it is very important to be a discriminating judge, as was my father. I knew I could do it by believing in my sensitivity and by working hard, so I founded Kokugyo-kan directly out of junior high school. When I was just getting started in the business, I visited a number of leading breeders who were producing many good Koi. I fished around in my head. What is it that the clients look for in a Koi when they make selection? How are the Koi selected by a good judge assessed and traded? I didn’t miss a line of the conversation between the clients and breeders. And when my assessment coincided with that of a good judge, I was totally thrilled. So you see the best way to develop a discerning eye for Koi is to appreciate a great number of them, listen to many people’s opinions, and actually experience the trading for yourself. I did those things from my earlier years.

Kamiya KohakuWhen I was about 20, I met this one Koi. In that instant, I knew it was the one, so I spent all the money I had and bought it on the spot. Over time, this Koi became to be a real beauty, and tons of people rushed to buy it at the price I named. It never works out when I purchase Koi expecting that my clients will buy them. Koi that customers actually look for are half-way grown. I can stock them, but if they don’t sell, I can’t do anything about it. Nishikigoi are elegant and beautiful living creatures. They are not essential in the life of human beings but have an artistic presence that gives peace and comfort to the mind. So when you want to get a Koi, you shouldn’t think so much about money. I believe it’s important to have room in your heart to just be able to love and enjoy them. And when you see a Koi and you know it is the one for you, don’t forget the excitement you sense in that moment; just follow your heart and get it. I would like for the Koi lovers to cultivate the ability to recognize the true value of Koi and also your own sensitivity.

A Koi selected by a TateshiThere are many Koi in my ponds. Every one of them will probably become assets in the future. My job is to predict the growth of Koi and refine and finish them, so I select the best pond for each one of them. For example, I put Showa Sanshoku in a hard-water pond with sand to get good sumi. As you can see, I have ponds with different water quality, so I can raise each Koi in an environment that is best for each one. The beauty of Nishikigoi depends greatly on the crossing of the oyagoi, but the environment in which you raise your Koi will decide their potential characteristics and beauty. That’s up to my skill and also that of the Koi lovers’.

I owe everything to the breeders. I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for them. My reasons for success are the many wonderful Koi that Niigata breeders produce and my own judgment that I truly believe in. I hope everybody will be pleased with my job of identifying good Koi and refining them. I’m not the most educated person in the world, but I have unshakable self- confidence in Nishikigoi. I will keep spreading the beauty of Koi across borders, and with the Koi lovers of the world, I will keep enjoying them, too.

Featured Breeders
Koi Disease
Hand-painted Koinobori

(interviewed on September 14, 2005)

Tateshi*1 An “artisan” who stocks Tategoi from breeders and raises them for several years. The ability to spot the potential of a Tategoi and high breeding techniques are required

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