As a koi enthusiast, you know that there are many different breeds and varieties of koi. Each breed and variety, such as Sanke (the star of this blog post) or Gosanke… Each may look different and have differing levels of quality and strengths between different breeders and farms. Why is that?
Believe it or not, this is actually a historical and biological question that can be answered with bloodlines. The Japanese word for a koi bloodline, “keito,” has a few different meanings, namely “trademark,” “traits,” or “characteristics.” Remembering this helps us to understand how important bloodlines are; this understanding points out that a particular bloodline will feature specific desirable traits inherited from the parent koi.
Without the knowledge of bloodlines, you may be misled when choosing koi. For example, Omosako Koi Farm is known for their shiro utsuri; world famous, in fact. However, you may not know that Omosako shiro utsuri tosai may have weak sumi that won’t develop until around age 4 or 5. Once the koi reaches this age, the sumi will be incredible. Coupled with the incredible body shape that comes from this farm, you may have a winner on your hands! Unless you knew this bloodline information, you may be less likely to purchase one of these world-famous shiro utsuri tosai from Omosako.
The History of Matsunosuke
This incredible bloodline referred originally to the Sanke breed, but over time has come to include the entire Gosanke variety (i.e. Sanke, Showa, and Kohaku), a huge favorite of the koi community. A true M.V.P.!
Matsunosuke is a bloodline developed by Toshio Sakai. Tashio Sakai founded the Isawa Nishikigoi Center when he was just 18 years old after learning the craft from his father at the Yamamatsu Koi Farm. His older brother, Toshiyuki Sakai, took over the Yamamatsu business, per tradition.
Some people have the understanding that Hiroji Sakai at Sakai Fish Farms in Hiroshima was responsible for the development of Matsunosuke, but that’s not necessarily true. Toshi Sakai, Toshio’s son, apprenticed with Hiroji at Sakai Fish Farms, but that does not mean Hiroji created this bloodline.
Bloodlines are not exclusive to a particular breeder. While they originally were exclusive to the one breeder, of course, several different breeders will have a particular bloodline in their koi. The success of bloodline is seen when multiple breeders are using/have the bloodline in their koi. For example, the Dainichi bloodline is used by several different breeders, and the Matsunosuke bloodline is used by several breeders, as well (i.e. Isawa, Shintaro, Momotaro, Yamamatsu, and Sakai).
So how did Matsunosuke get to Shintaro Koi Farm?
Masaru Saito left the services of Tashio San at Isawa Nishikigoi Center and brought this bloodline over to Shintaro Koi Farm.
And how did Matsunosuke get to Yamamatsu Koi Farm?
We know that Toshio Sakai left his father’s farm, Yamamatsu Koi Farm, at the age of 18 to start his own farm, Isawa Nishikigoi Center. His brother, Toshiyuki Sakai, inherited the Yamamatsu farm, true to tradition. When Toshio began his business, he didn’t have enough mudpond space so Toshiyuki actually took care of some of his koi during summer months in his ponds. These koi were entered into the All Japan Koi Show (AJKS) and won, but Yamamatsu received the credit for these.
The Successes of Matsunosuke
Several grand-champions have come from the Matsunosuke bloodline, so if your Gosanke koi has Matsunosuke in their blood, then you know you have some historical genetics.
The success of Matsunosuke bloodline was not by accident. Tashio had a vision for what he wanted out of this craft that he’d dedicated his life to; he had a vision and lots of patience. He invested decades into executing the vision he had for the Matsunosuke bloodline.
The result? Dozens of winners at various koi shows. To name some, Chiba Grand Championship, Saitama Grand Championship, Kanto Koshin-Chiku Grand Championship, and All Japan Nishikigoi Shinkou-Kai Kokugyo awards and Grand Championship. Matsunosuke Koi became the All Japan Koi Show Grand Champions in 1994, 1995, 1997, and 2002. Yamamatsu Koi Farm received the credit for two of these AJKS wins.
He was the first breeder to win with a Sanke over three feet (1 meter); absolutely incredible!
Not only this, but the parent koi of the Matsunosuke bloodline went on to produce incredible koi for almost 40 years.
Masaru Saito of Shintaro Koi Farm received major awards across the globe, including Grand Champions in the UK, Europe, South Africa, America, and Thailand. Wow! To see what Shintaro koi we have available, click this link here.
Matsunosuke: A House Name
When asked by a koi enthusiast where the name Matsunosuke came from, Miwa Sakai, Toshio’s daughter, said that this was actually their house name. House names are unique to this Japanese countryside culture; let’s dive into that some more.
It is difficult to define exactly this “house” concept, but it is established that this isn’t unique to just Saito’s Isawa farm. Often, the name of the farm is named after the house name. This is used by Dainichi, Ojiya, Igarashi, Hoshino, and more.
What’s the significance here? When you own a koi of the Matsunosuke bloodline, or any other traceable bloodline, you also own a koi that was cultivated by a family of people who are dedicated to perfection. These koi are the result of patience, love, care, attention to detail, and dedication to quality.
This is not to say that a koi without a traceable bloodline is of lower quality. There are many breeders who do not adhere to a strict bloodline, but rather choose parent koi based on quality to produce koi that may go on to win grand champion.
Traits of the Matsunosuke Bloodline
Koi Fact: nearly a third of all Sanke are descendants of the Matsunosuke parent koi!
After learning of all the championships that Matsunosuke koi have won, you know now that this bloodline is incredibly respected by koi communities internationally. But what is it about these koi that have made the bloodline so successful and coveted?
The Matsunosuke Gin is world-famous! The gin is known to be particularly beautiful. The body shape is also unique and perfect, partially responsible for producing many grand champions. Also, the stability of the sumi (black) patterning has been huge for this bloodline. The depth/thickness of the color and the shine both make these koi incredibly high-quality– over time.
When we said earlier that Toshio Sakai had patience, we weren’t exaggerating. These koi really come into their own around the 10th or 12th year of life. Since Japan’s mud ponds are the absolute best place to grow koi (best temperature, best nutrients, etc.), this makes a great recipe for success.
At a younger age, Matsunosuke have fairly faint beni and faint sumi. However, over time, the beni, sumi, and gin rin really shine. Combine that with the propensity for growth (they are known for breaking the 100 CM barrier!), and you’ve got some of the best koi on the planet.
If you’d like to learn more about Matsunosuke and see a harvest with Matsunosuke Sanke koi at Shintaro, please check out this video of the harvest with Yvo de Wall, from Koi Partner!
We are officially partnered with The Koi Partner; you can find SO much great information and videos over at his channel. From koi harvests, to European koi pond tours, and koi shows, there is a wealth of content on his channel. Go give him a follow and level up your koi knowledge!
Matsunosuke: A Special Bloodline
Matsunosuke is a very special bloodline, but it’s more than that. It represents more than just beautiful koi. When you look at a Matsunosuke koi, you’re looking at decades of hard work, patience, and dedication. You’re looking at the result of a commitment to family and tradition. Owning a koi with the Matsunosuke gene is truly an incredibly special thing.