When you think of koi wonderland, the first thing that probably pops into your head is Japan. After all, Niigata Prefecture in Japan is the birthplace of Nishikigoi. There are literally hundreds of koi farms throughout Japan dating all the way back to the 1820s. It can be somewhat of a challenge to combat the misnomer that breeding quality koi outside Japan can compete with Japanese koi, with hundreds of years of breeding experience behind them.
So, is it possible that a breeder outside Japan could quietly become the fourth largest koi farm in the world and the largest koi farm in Europe? Could a koi farm outside Japan breed more than 35 stable varieties of koi? Could an unknown koi farm outside Japan win two-thirds of all trophies in one of the largest koi shows in Europe dominated by Japanese koi breeders?
The Answer is Yes!
Although known in many European countries and among Facebook circles worldwide online, Yoshikigoi has led a somewhat quiet existence until now. In a small town two hours from Poznan airport in Poland, hidden behind dirt roads and farms and locked behind a steel gate lies the future of the koi hobby. Sprawled over 148 acres are beautifully lined-up mud ponds and koi houses helmed by Ernest Driessen, with koi creations by Jos Aben. All under the watchful eye of Jos, Ernest works like a mad scientist, imagining ways to create new types of koi and breed formidable competition to existing koi types revered by all. They breed more than 35 varieties, many new and existing types including Gosanke and Utsurimono. In my personal opinion, they are the best doitsu koi breeder in the world!
Now, for the biggest question of all: can a koi breeder outside Japan breed koi that can compete with the best Japanese koi breeders?
You Bet Your Ass!
I had been tracking Jos Aben for a few years on Facebook and sharing his koi creations with thousands of people when I came to the conclusion that I needed to figure out a way to bring Yoshikigoi koi to America.
Fast-forward to February 2016, and we finally saw the importing light at the end of the tunnel. Although I was blown away by my first visit to Yoshikigoi, I needed a gut-check to make sure I wasn’t just drinking the Kool-Aid. I decided to ask a friend, Mat McCann, to join me on my second visit. Mat had extensive knowledge breeding at his company, Quality Koi, and had been back and forth to Japanese koi farms for the past 15 years, so he was the perfect person to help evaluate Yoshikigoi. We spent five days handpicking and photographing more than 50 Nisai and Sansai that will make koi history as the first Yoshikigoi to enter the United States.
Yoshikigoi: All the Buzz
My phone, email and messenger have been buzzing like crazy, as everyone wants to see what’s coming. These are very exciting times for the koi hobby, and we’re excited to be a part of it.
This trip was a huge success on many levels. Working with Jos and Ernest, we formed Yoshikigoi USA, the exclusive importer for Yoshikigoi Koi. Not only that, but Mat McCann was so impressed with Yoshikigoi that Quality Koi is now assisting Koi Market in this exciting venture. It’s hard to put into words just how amazing the Yoshikigoi Koi Farm is. Jos has been breeding koi for 25 years, spending every waking moment thinking outside the box about ways to extract the best genetics from different bloodlines to create beautiful, stable koi varieties.
His knowledge of koi genetics is unbelievable, and he doesn’t refrain from sharing it. His goal is to educate hobbyists so that they understand what to look for when making a purchase. His book, “The Secrets of Koi Unraveled,” has finally been translated and will be coming to the United States this spring. Like an exposed magician, he explains all the things that none of the other koi breeders talk about — like determining skin quality by looking at the fins, understanding body confirmation and predicting how koi will develop in the future. He also reveals proper head shape, fukurin, the depth and distribution of skin layers and color, the appearance and disappearance of sumi, proper diet guidelines, growing and breeding tips and other secrets of success.
The Disneyland of Koi
Taking a trip is actually easier than one might think; Jos and Ernest make it really easy to travel to the farm. The only thing you need to pay for is your airline ticket and transportation to and from your home airport. They cover transportation in Poland, food and lodging. If you’re a koi collector, this is your Disneyland! Depending on when you come, you can take part in a harvest and handpick your fish right from the mud pond, or just sit back and enjoy some of the most amazing koi in the world. I could sit here and go on and on about how amazing Yoshikgoi is, or I could let you peruse the fruits of their labor.
That’s why this shall be “The Year of Yoshikigoi.”
If you are interested in taking a trip to Yoshikigoi, give Shawn a call at 516/809-6771.
Yoshikigoi USA, a subdivision of Koi Market Construction & Maintenance Inc., is the exclusive importer for the Yoshikigoi koi farm in Poland. Koi Market has been a part of the koi and pond hobby since 2006, with a 4,000 square-foot facility in Huntington, New York, dedicated to selling koi, aquatic plants and pond supplies. They have 20,000 gallons of retail tanks for koi that range in pricing from $10 to $10,000. They also have a large pond construction and maintenance division. The equipment they use in their retail store is the same equipment they use for their customers. Koi Market only sells the best filtration, aeration and circulation systems available and is always testing out the latest pond technology trends. Their maintenance division caters to weekly and biweekly maintenance programs. Their pond builds have been featured on TV shows like “Tanked” and “The LI Medium.”