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5 Things You Should Know about Japanese Koi Farms

Beautiful Nishikigoi from Shintaro Koi Farm.

Every koi on our koi ranch is an original piece of art. Any original piece of art can take years of studying, practicing, and refining to achieve that final product. This is the exact same process with koi! The koi you see on our site are hand-selected out of thousands of other koi, chosen based on a variety of characteristics, such as color, size, patterns, and balance between colors.

Achieving this level of refinement does not happen overnight! It requires decades of research, dedication, and a commitment to providing the highest quality of koi on the planet. If you are looking for a truly beautiful koi fish, an award winning koi, Japan is where you need to go.

Keeping and breeding koi fish is believed to have begun in early-19th century Japan, where colorful carp were caught in the wild, and kept by rice farmers. Modern koi that you see today are direct descendants of those wild, colorful carp caught by rice farms in the early 1800s. Absolutely mind-blowing, right?

But how does this happen, and what do you need to know if you want to find beautiful koi fish in Japan? Use these tips to plan your next koi buying trip to Japan!

Koi Fish Buying Seasons

There are two major seasons for buying and selling koi; the springtime and the autumn. In spring, you’ll be buying smaller, younger koi, like tosai and nisai, around 8 to 35 centimeters in length. This will be February, March, and April. Anytime after this, the weather will be too warm to safely transport the koi fish from the koi farm to their next destination in Hawaii or New Jersey for the quarantine period.

In the autumn, you’ll be visiting koi farm mud ponds. At this point in the season, they’ll have moved the quality koi fish from the greenhouses and into mud ponds for the cold season. This is when you’ll find more mature koi fish, 30 centimeters and up, at the koi farm. You’ll be visiting in November and October.

Japanese Koi Farms are Exclusive

Our Founder, Hunter Neiman, with Hironori Maruhiro, the owner of Maruhiro Koi Farm.

Not just anybody can walk up to a koi fish breeder’s koi farm and expect to buy quality koi! Koi farming is an extremely respected and precious industry; the Nishikigoi culture is one of the most respected aspects of Japanese culture. It’s taken very seriously.

The koi fish, or Nishikigoi, that you see in these ponds are a result of decades and decades of selective breeding. There are so many factors; color, depth of color, intensity of color, body shape, size, length, shine, health, and whether or not they’re metallic.

The beauty of Japanese koi fish is a result of decades of work; not just anybody can gain access to show-ready koi!

Fortunately, we’ve done all the Nishikigoi breeder networking and gained access to these exclusive koi farms for you! Our relationships with these koi breeders is our most valuable asset; without them, we would never be able to provide you with the beautiful Nishikigoi you’ve come to love and expect from us.

Koi Breeding Plans

It’s important to have a basic understanding of the science behind breeding koi. If you’ve learned about Charles Darwin and selective breeding, then you’ve already got a head start! The koi you see on our site are the result of decades of selective Nishikigoi breeding.

Koi breeders will start with a large population of millions of fry (baby fish!), eventually “culling” the population down to a couple thousand, then hundreds, until they finally have a small number of koi that we hand-select from.

This culling process takes a lot of time and is labor intense. You’ll go from thousands of tosai, until you reach those few high quality nisai and sansai Nishikigoi.

Multiple Generations of Koi Breeders

Knowledge of breeding koi fish is passed down from generation to generation of koi breeders. This is a high level of expertise you can expect from buying koi in Japan. The wisdom and talent of their elders is passed down to them, so they can continue to produce show-winning Japanese koi fish.

Each breeder specializes in specific types of koi. Different varieties of koi, such as showa, kohaku, or hi utsuri, only look the way they do because they’ve been selected through many, many generations.

Having the skills of their elders paves their way to providing beautiful Japanese koi for collectors around the world.

Multiple Koi Farms in One Day

When you only have a week or two to get all of your buying done, you may want to visit more than one farm in one day.

We typically travel to Niigata, Japan, a mountainous region on the western coast of the mainland in the Chūbu region of Japan. It’s just over an hour’s ride via bullet train from Tokyo, but you can take a taxi if you prefer. This is where you'll find over 200 Nishikigoi farms.

In this region, there will be multiple koi farms and many koi breeders within close proximity of each other. We will typically arrive on a Sunday, visiting several koi farms a day without a day off.

If you do decide to join us on one of our "koi hunting” trips, you certainly won’t forget this action-packed, koi-filled adventure! Travel the world with us!

Experience the Beauty of Rural Japan with Select Koi

Interested in sitting down for tea with top breeders of Nishikigoi in Japan? Want to see first hand where your Showa or Kohaku, hand-selected by Select Koi, comes from? Curious about how all these varieties come to be?

Join us for our next trip across the world to Niigata, Japan! We're looking for a few Nishikigoi enthusiasts to adventure through the mountains with us, so shoot us a message or give us a call if you're interested!

Koi Fish Japan Trip Fall 2021

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