Keeping koi is a lot of fun and I love having these beautiful, graceful animals swimming around in the ponds that my husband builds for me. As we learned more about the hobby, we heard a lot about azukari koi in Japan. A few years ago I privately thought – “these guys are nuts…who wants someone else raising your koi half way around the world?” Fast forward to now – “I do!” This fall I’m putting a toe into the world of azukari koi in Japan with the help of Kevin Pham
My adventure starts with a little comment to the koi dealer like “I would love to have an inazuma kohaku.” I’m going to digress from the azukari topic to inazuma. Inazuma refers to the type of pattern on the koi. It resembles a lightning strike, should run left to right, front to back in one continuous pattern. There are plenty of “pattern” diagrams and the inazuma looks interesting to me:
I don’t think the kohaku in the sketch above is really that great but good luck finding a photo of an inazuma kohaku with a similar pattern. I have Googled and searched through Pinterest photos but nothing looked zig-zaggy enough for me. I think I have seen the photo of this inazuma showa a few times and just assumed there would be a kohaku somewhere in the world with similar patterned beni. Not so. It appears that breeding a koi with this type of pattern is not the easiest and little tosai can look pretty messy (so maybe they are culled??)
So back to azukari. I had just purchased a pair of showas and was finishing up my texts for the morning.
So here’s the cue – please find me an inazuma kohaku. It’s October and it looks like a lot of first choice koi are available. I really thought finding what I want might be a needle in the haystack. A few hours later, another message pops up on my phone:
Wow – she’s a beauty! So tempting and I must have looked at the video a few hundred times. But I exercised a little discipline and declined the koi. Lovely koi but I really wanted something with a little more zig-zagginess to it. I think the pattern is very powerful but it’s just not what I had my heart set on.
A few days later, I’ve purchased some cute little tosai and not even thinking about getting more koi from Japan. Kevin Pham sends a photo of a really cool kohaku. It may not be everyone’s taste but Kevin knows we like the unusual, exceptional, very different koi. In this case, the koi met our criteria for different, is beautiful and the icing on the cake is the phrase – ‘potential Japanese koi show quality’. Hmmmmm, now whether or not it ever gets into a koi show in Japan, I’m super interested. Kevin explained the unique pattern is both inazuma and sandan on the same koi. We’re not going to find too many of these anywhere…
Questions, questions – can I afford the koi? how much is azukari in Japan? is live harvest guaranteed? what do we really think about potential? Thank goodness Kevin Pham understands that some customers need a little more hand holding than others. Once I had my questions answered about azukari, it was time to check with the pond builder if he supported the idea of an azukari koi. The pond builder didn’t even blink an eye and said “of course” 😍😍😍 Sidebar: It’s only 7 days before our wedding anniversary…maybe the pond builder recognized he would be off the hook for a gift???🤣
So what happens next? Nothing really. I have a beautiful koi hanging out in Japan. We wait and see how she looks next fall. She is a Taniguchi kohaku, clocking in around 20″ at 16 months. I have heard that many things can happen to your azukari koi – like illness, predator, loss of coloration, injury, death – but I am hoping for the best. Like all things in the world, work with someone you trust. Things happen but good people will always do their best. I always name all of my koi but someone once told me it’s bad luck to name koi. Just to be on the safe side this pretty koi will remain nameless.☺️