2018 ZNA NorCal and Winter Storm Xanto

Checked off another koi show in the United States. I love to visit other koi shows to see the beautiful koi, meet crazy koi people, find new koi things to buy and just hear a lot of good information about keeping koi. ZNA NorCal has always interested me because the koi are pretty big and the koi keepers seem pretty competitive (in a friendly way). I was not disappointed visiting this show – lots of beautiful big koi. I would estimate that over half of the koi shown were 25″ or larger, nicely shaped plump female koi.

The show had a lot of interesting vendors. My favorite vendor was Calligraphy by Emiko She had some beautiful notecards and all sorts of koi motif items imported from Japan. My cousin bought me a hand towel and I would have loved to bring home a little jar/can of Niigata saké. I did a little research and apparently Niigata is also known for saké – there is a website with an overview. So when you visit Japan, koi farms by day and saké at night. Rounding out a perfect trifecta is local ramen – one day I’ll have to visit and try out these ramen shops!

Meanwhile back to ZNA NorCal – I wanted to show some koi so Kevin Pham helped me to select some small koi last fall with the intent to enter something in the spring show. I entered four small koi and my Taniguchi Goshiki was judged Best in Size 2 and received a friendship award and founder’s award. The little goshiki was a very pale silver-gray in the fall and darkened up while in California. I am hoping that I will do a better job with this goshiki when it comes home in a few weeks. I have not had very good luck keeping goshikis. Last summer, one developed a long scratch on its head – she’s since been rehomed… and this winter, another goshiki got a divot somehow in the winter pond. That one will also have to be rehomed. The two kohakus were nice but Kevin said a little more time with feeding to plump out their shape would have been good. The showa was not really planned to be shown but we sent it in just to see if it could be considered for tategoi. A little digression here but this morning, Jason Guevara (ZNA Carolina) was giving our club a presentation about pattern and he reminded us that we really do not see the full development of a showa on average of 7 years. I have a lot of waiting to do since the showa koi I own are still on the young side.

My entries in the 2018 ZNA NorCal Koi Show – Size 4 Kase Showa (around 16 inches), Size 2 Sakai Kohaku, Size 2 Taniguchi Goshiki, Size 2 Watanabe Kohaku
Size 2 Goshiki, Taniguchi Koi Farm, sourced through Kevin Pham (Genki Nishikigoi)

Many people travel far for these shows – even from the Midwest! Russell Peters (PSKoi), Bill and Jan Doyle (Midwest Pond and Koi Society) and Rick and Pam Jokerst (NMZNA, St. Louis Water Garden Society) – all made the trip out there. Some of my own koi club members attended last year’s show. It’s always fun to connect with live faces that you see on the pages of Facebook – like Dinh Nguyen! It’s a relatively small hobby in the United States. Koi shows are run pretty similarly across the United States. Two to three days over a weekend, benching of koi, judging, awards banquet, maybe some educational seminars, raffles, auctions – and if you’re lucky, you might have a koi dealer nearby who can transport your koi back and forth from the show.

Transporting koi to a show is so stressful for me (and my pond builder). It’s also stressful for the koi. For our local show, it’s only 20 minutes but we are committed to going to the inaugural St. Louis Koi Show in September. That’s a nine hour drive (and if you’re driving with me, nine hours really means 11 hours). I’m not going to think about it too much, but I’m sure my pond builder with think of a cool solution for transporting some of our koi.

2018 ZNA NorCal Koi Show April 7 & 8, San Jose, CA
ZNA NorCal show banquet and awards

The other reason I wanted to go to ZNA NorCal is to have a little visit with Kevin Pham/Genki Nishikigoi. I had not seen the newly renovated shop and it’s always a pleasure to spend a little time with his son and wife. My koi have been well cared for since they came home from Japan last year and he will be packing them up for their flight to Little Siberia some time over the next two weeks. So many fun things to see in the shop. I have already put in an order for some more koi stuff that I think I might need 🤣 My idea of a perfect koi store in San Jose would be a restaurant next door. I love phô just about as much as I love ramen. In California there’s always a place to have phô for breakfast. Once again my cousin was game to go eating with me. One of our (mis)adventures was the lunch run for crispy egg rolls. We went to a few places and finally ended up at a highly rated Yelp spot about an HOUR after we started our drive, and nothing is very far in east San Jose. I love my cousin but she had some difficulties with the GPS program (which you would think someone with a law degree working with tech companies would have no problem following…) Anyways, it turns out that the super delicious egg rolls we brought back for our lunch were from a restaurant of one of the koi keepers in ZNA NorCal. Lesson learned – ask the koi dealer for directions to the best food.

It’s a good thing that I don’t have a store like this within driving distance of my home. I could see a lot of spare change being spent here.
One of the tanks at Genki Nishikigoi, San Jose. I have two Kase showas swimming around in this group.

After a lovely weekend in sunny, relatively warm weather – I’m back to winter. We had one day this week that was in the high 40s and I played hooky from work. (Thankfully the pond builder is my work boss and grants me a little flexibility when it comes to my work hours.) I wasn’t able to do much but cleaned up a lot of little sticks and leaves around the yard, trimmed the ornamental grass clumps, checked for plant damage and readjusted the plant coverings. I saw a lot of signs of spring with green shoots peeking out of the ground but they’re are currently being covered with a few inches of snow. We have an unusual storm passing through which may put 10-15 inches of snow on the ground this weekend. It’s very disappointing to us because it’s another weekend that we can’t be outside working on the ponds so that our koi can exit the garage.

April in Little Siberia

I’m watching a lot of snow blowing around this afternoon. Hopefully we won’t lose power. Sometimes it’s not about my yard but a tree somewhere else on my local power grid that will cause a problem. We do have generators up in the shed if necessary.

I would love to remove the plant covers but then they become fair game for deer and rabbits. The cold weather and wind will burn the tips of some plants and some of them just aren’t hardy enough for this zone.

Once this storm passes, I’m sure the pond builder will be out trying to hasten the melting of the upper pond’s ice cover. It’s still quite thick in places. He’s itching to get that pond drained so that he can do something different to the bottom drains, resculpt the sides, a new liner and then a new wood border to the pond. All of the koi will live in the lower pond until we can open up the upper pond. Then we’ll move some of the bigger girls.

a few more days (weeks) under cover
weather and rabbit damage
April 12, 2018 – our upper pond is not really ready for the koi to come out. The ice is melting and the pond builder enjoys breaking up the sheet – but ice, some of it 12 inches thick, stubbornly remains.

So now I’m going to start on my indoor garden project. Maybe next weekend we’ll have outdoor work weather!

Project for a snowy day in April – starting asian herbs indoors.
plant starter station

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