Each year Taro Kodama attends the All Japan Combined Nishikigoi Show in Tokyo. This year however, he had the distinguished honor of being selected as one of the show’s judges. We caught up with Taro for a brief interview:
*Maria:* Welcome back from Japan. How was the koi show?
*Taro:* Thank you. I am not sure how to describe it. It was simply overwhelming to see so many top quality Koi at one place at one time. This is something you must experience if you are into koi.
*Maria:* Please tell us a little bit more about the koi show. for those who have never been to the show like myself.
*Taro:* There are two All Japan Koi Shows. One is hosted by the ZNA (Zen Nippon Airinkai) or hobbyists’ organization, and the other by AJNPA (All Japan Nishikigoi Promotion Association) or dealer/breeder association. I am a member of AJNPA. The koi show I attended was hosted by AJNPA. Considering the size and the competition, it is no exaggeration to call it “The World’s Best Koi Show.” And my father has won Grand champion several times at this show.
*Maria:* That’s amazing! How many Koi were entered?
Taro: Sorry I do not have the exact number, but I am sure there were over 1500 koi.
*Maria:* I see. It must have been a very tough competition.
*Taro:* Absolutely! They are not just 1500 koi. All 1500 were of show quality. I believe ANY would do very well at Koi shows in the US.
*Maria:* I heard you participated as a judge this year. How was it? How many judges were there?
*Taro:* Because there are so many Koi to judge, there are sixty judges elected from each district of AJNPA, and 8 judges invited from foreign countries. We were divided into twelve teams. I was with team 10, which included five judges from Japan and one from Belgium. Our team was assigned to judge 80 Bu, which are koi from 75cm (30 in.) to 80cm (32 in.).
*Maria:* I see. So you did not judge the grand champion Kohaku?
*Taro:* As a matter of fact, I did. All the judges picked the grand champion first. Before we divide up to teams, all the judges went through the tanks and nominated one koi to be the grand champion. When one Koi gets majority, it wins the grand champion title. In the first round, no koi received the majority vote, but the selection was narrowed down to three koi, one kohaku and 2 showa. So we voted again, and the kohaku received the majority of votes in the second round.
*Maria:* Did it match with your vote? What do you think of the grand champion?
*Taro:* Yes. I voted Kohaku both times. She won the grand champion at this koi show in 2011, and she won again this year. Her entire presentation is so pristine. On the thick body, a very thick Beni and Shiroji stood out in such a perfect pattern. Beautiful fukurin added to the value so much. She won the grand champion once. So I must say these things are all expected.
What amazed me, however, was the skill of care. Maintaining the beauty for 2 years is simply unbelievable. When it comes to koi of this size, the skillful raising of her is so indispensable. While any accident could happen, you must eliminate all the accident factors. You can not let anything happen to her. You can not overfeed her nor underfeed her. Water quality must be maintained. Everything must work so perfect to improve or even retain the entire package that makes up her beauty.
*Maria:* Sounds like obtaining a good koi is the easy part. As koi owners, we need to acquire the skills to improve and maintain the beauty of our koi, right?
*Taro:* Absolutely. To win, you need a good koi and good skills together. This is why it is so important to learn 1) how to pick right koi, 2) what and how to feed it, and 3) how to maintain water quality. This is a very important lesson you can learn from this Grand Champion’s repeat victory.
*Maria:* Lastly, is there anything else you want to share with our readers?
*Taro:* This koi show always gets me excited. But at the same time, I am always sad that there are so few koi owned by US hobbyists at the show. I would like to see more US owner’s koi there. As a dealer of high quality Japanese koi, I take this responsibility very seriously.
I must encourage more of you to enter (this koi show). If you win an award, that would be great, but it is more than that. Having your koi at the show and comparing your koi with so many top quality koi, you can learn so much. I feel responsible for helping our customers to experience this great learning opportunity.
It is now one of my goals to have more US owned koi entered into the show. If any reader is interested, please let me know!
**Maria Francisco is Kodama Koi Farm’s Online Sales Team Manager. She has been with the company for over 5 years.**