Language of Koi: Why you should sell Koromo and Goshiki

Published on March 2, 2015

Koromo and Goshiki are two separate koi varieties, but at almost all the koi shows, they are categorized as one. At a glance, they may look like completely different varieties. Their roots, however, are the same: Asagi and Kohaku.

Photo 1: A new variety of Goshiki
Photo 1: A new variety of Goshiki (Click to expand)

Because the Goshiki variety has advanced so much (as you can see in photo 1, above right photo), this shared ancestry may be hard to believe. However, if you look at the old version of Goshiki (as seen in Photo 2, on the opposing page), you can see a lot of similarity. Simply speaking, Goshiki and Koromo both develop Asagi scales on a Kohaku body.

The difference between the two is that Koromo develops Asagi scales only on areas of Hi (red), while Goshiki develops Asagi scales mainly on Shiroji (white ground).

Clothes and Five Colors

Koromo in Japanese means clothes, so you have some idea why they are called Koromo: they look as if they are wearing clothes! Goshiki means five colors, and it may be hard to understand the roots of the name. Goshiki was originally developed by crossing Sanke and Goshiki. Goshiki Sanke was the first version of this variety (see Photo 3, page 36.) So there were five colors: red, the black and white of Sanke, and the blue and indigo of Asagi. Now you see how they got the name of Goshiki, or five colors.

Koromo now is a general category name of several different varieties. You have heard of Ai goromo, Budo goromo and Sumi goromo. (In Japanese, a “K” sound turns to a “G” sound after a vowel.) We hardly see Sumi goromo, as they are not as beautiful as the other two and breeders do not breed them. Ai goromo are the ones that have a Kohaku pattern and Asagi indigo scales in a beautiful half-moon shape, only on the Hi plates.
 Budo goromo are the ones that develop the indigo Asagi scales fully on the Hi (as in Photo 4, left.) The mixed color looks like purple or grape. Budo in Japanese means grapes. There are also Koromo Sanke and Koromo Showa varieties, but they are very hard to find. If you find them, you are very lucky.

Goshiki also have several versions, but the most popular one is Kuro Goshiki (as seen in Photo 1). When they are born, they may just look like a regular Goshiki. As they mature, the Asagi ground turns into a complete black, leaving the Hi bright, neon red. Because the contrast of the red and black is so beautiful and striking, they are not only popular but also a regular show-winner. At the All Japan Koi Show, they sometimes win over Gosanke.

If you like Kuro Goshiki, please make sure you check the bloodline. Goshiki has Goshiki Sanke and Goshiki Showa as well.

Appreciating Koromo and Goshiki

Although Koromo and Goshiki share similar roots, they have developed differently, so the appreciation points are a little different. When appreciating Koromo, we need to pay attention to the following:

Photo 4: Budo goromo
Photo 4: Budo goromo (Click to expand)

1) Ai appearance

Ai means indigo. The condition of the Ai appearance on Hi is the life of this variety. Ai condition as seen in Photo 5 (above, right) is ideal…but it is very difficult to find this condition on every part of the Hi plates. In the photo, her left shoulder has less Ai. Her right shoulder has a large Sumi dot. These are not really desirable. As a whole piece of art, having perfect Ai on the entire Hi plates is almost impossible. So although this koi has some weak points, she is very beautiful and valuable.

Budo goromo does not really have Ai, as its Hi is mostly covered with indigo and has become purple. So the key is how well the Hi is covered and looks even. The Budo goromo in Photo 4 is a good example.

2) Kohaku pattern

Because Ai appearance is the number one priority in this variety, they do not necessarily have to have an excellent Kohaku pattern. But good a Kohaku pattern is always an additional plus to this variety.

When appreciating Goshiki, we need to pay attention to the following:

1) Asagi ground condition

This condition can vary. Some may be very light, especially when they are young. Some may be black like

Photo 3: In this young Goshiki, note that the ground is light but very consistent.The Hi is very clean and bright. This gray ground will become completely black over time.
Photo 3: In this young Goshiki, note that the ground is light but very consistent.The Hi is very clean and bright. This gray ground will become completely black over time. (Click to expand)

Kuro Goshiki. But it is important that the ground condition is consistent all the way. Some Goshiki may develop Ai on Hi like Koromo. It is OK if it develops beautifully. Breeders are trying to remove any Ai development from the Hi because the contrast is more beautiful that way.

2) Clean Hi

Because the skin ground of Goshiki tends to become dark or black, clean Hi is critical. The cleaner it is, the more beautiful the contrast will become.

3) Kohaku pattern

This is the same as Koromo. When I joined this industry, I never felt Goshiki was beautiful, nor imagined Goshiki could be this beautiful and popular. The popular varieties have always been Gosanke and Shiro Utsuri, but now it seems Gosanke and Goshiki are the popular ones. I can see the huge efforts of breeders behind this and get excited with the even greater future potential of koi in general. 
Maybe 20 years from now, another variety that we do not even pay attention to now will turn out to be 
amazingly beautiful and popular.


Marketing Koromo and Goshiki may not be that easy, as there are so many different versions. I think it requires some study of each variety and bloodline as well. At least please buy these varieties from trusted breeders, like the ones I mention below. Then, you can introduce them to your clients with confidence.

I recommend Sakazume Koi Farm and Takano Koi Farm for Ai goromo and Budo goromo, and Hiroi Koi Farm, Kawakami Koi Farm, Kan’no Koi Farm and Aokiya Koi Farm for Goshiki.

Kloubec Koi Farm

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