Niigata is the only place where can supply highest quality Nishikigoi. There are three essentail conditions that the area fulfills to raise high-class Nishikigoi, 1) adequate atmospheric and environmental conditions to raise and keep good Oyagoi, 2) many many years experience and know-how (called Nishikigoi craftsmanship) needed for each variety and 3) regional networking system and partnership among breeders.
The actual “Nishikigoi” is a mutated form of the edible Koi that was raised in former Yamakoshi Village (current Nagaoka City), Niigata, 200 years ago (1804-1830). Yamakoshi is the mountain-ringed region, the residents raked the mountains and built “rice terraces” to grow rice and vegetables. The “rice terraces” were preserve ponds to irrigate the terraces. Koi were raised in these ponds for a source of protein for winter, until one day, these Koi suddenly mutated, and Koi with different colors and patterns were swimming among the black Koi. The farmers were amazed by this and made efforts to breed more beautiful and unique Koi.
Now, there are approximately 800 Nishikigoi farms in Japan. Roughly 600 farms out of the 800 are in Niigata, many of them have over hundred years of experience. The breeders in Nagaoka City and Ojiya City have been taking leadership role and have been developing thousands of superior “Oyagoi=original parents” Japanese breeders in other regions (such as Hiroshima or Fukuoka) or many breeders outside Japan bought Oyagoi from Niigata and are working as breeders. The big question is “Can the breeders supply highest quality Nishikigoi continuously once they could have good Oyagoi?” The answer is NO because the other area would not be able to provide “the essential condtions”, as Niigata has, to breed splendid Nishikigoi.
In addition, Niigata is known as the area of highest snowfall. Sometimes, 3 feet of snow per night. People in Niigata know the importance of helping each other. Each breeder in Niigata is family owned micro business, but they always work together, help each other, share information and when necessary they work as one big community. They think that partnership and acting as one community are more important than competition. Before they started Nishikigoi breeding, most of them were farmers. Farming rice in the mountains cannot be done without helping each other. This is the traditional Japanese behavior as agricultural race, which can bring big advantages for all Nishikigoi hobbyists in the world.
The breeders’ creative efforts made Nishikigoi industry more interesting. The most of Nishikigoi varieties are produced by breeders in Niigata. There are over 80 different kinds of Nishikigoi (or over 250 varieties by detailed definition). This is the strength and uniqueness of Niigata, the origin of Nishikigoi. Each variety requires different care and different knowhow to grow beautifully. Each breeder specialized how to develop highest quality variety. Their passion to create new Nishikigoi varieties leads Nishikigoi to be as colorful as it right now.
For more details of Nishikigoi variety, please refer to the list below.
■A Brief Chronological History of Nishikigoi Variety
The areas in Niigata are highlighted in
|Kohaku||1890||Ojiya City||Kunizo Hiroi||unknown|
|Shusui||1906||Tokyo Fukagawa||Kichigoro Akiyama||Doitsu×Asagi|
|Taisho Sanke||1917||Yamakoshi Village||Eizaburo Hoshino||Kohaku×Bekko|
|Ki Utsuri||1920||Yamakoshi Village||Yohei Sato||Ki Bekko×Magoi|
|Ki Utsuri||1920||Yamakoshi Village||Eizaburo Hoshino||Ki Utsuri×Ki Utsuri （fixed variety）|
|Shiro Utsuri||1925||Yamakoshi Village||Kazuo Minemura||Ki Utsuri Sanshoku×♀Shiro Bekko（bred by Torakichi Kawakami）|
|Showa Sanshoku||1927||Yamakoshi Village||Jukichi Hoshino||Ki Utsuri×Matsukawabake|
|Showa Sanshoku||1927||Ojiya City||Kishichirou Hoshino||Showa×Shiro Utsuri（fixed variety）|
|Kigoi||1930||Yamakoshi Village||Keichi Matsui||He officially named Nishikigoi Hanagoi in the 11th year of Showa era.|
|Kin Kabuto||1942||Yamakoshi Village||Isematsu Takano||Kinbo×Fujigin|
|Ogon||1947||Yamakoshi Village||Sawata Aoki||Kin Kabuto×Kin Fuji|
|Orang Ogon||1956||Ojiya City||Masamoto Kataoka||Asagi×Ogon（became fixed variety in 1963）|
|Doitsu Ogon||1958||Yamakoshi Village||Tomisaku Sakai||Kuro Doitsu×Ogon|
|Kin Ki Utsuri||1958||Yamakoshi Village||Fujizo Takahashi||Ogon×Ki Utsuri|
|Hariwake Ogon||1960||Yamakoshi Village||Tomisaku Sakai||From Ogon|
|Matsuba Ogon||1960||Ojiya City||Eizaburo Mano||unknown|
|Kujaku Ogon||1960||Ojiya City||Toshio Hirasawa||Matsuba Hariwake×Shusui|
|Plutinum Ogon||1963||Toyama Pre. Uozu City||Tadao Yoshioka||Akame* Kigoi×Nezu* Ogon|
|Koshi no Hisoku||1963||Toyama Pre. Uozu City||Tadao Yoshioka||Shusui×Yamabuki Ogon|
|Beni Kouki||1990||Ojiya City||Tomiei Suzuki||Doitsu Goshiki×Doitsu Kujaku|
|Kin Kiryu||1990||Yamakoshi Village||Ichiji Watanabe||Doitsu Kinryu×Doitsu Kin Showa＝Kumonryu×Gin Matsuba|
|Kikokuryu||1992||Ojiya City||Haruo Aoki||Kumonryu×Kikusui|
|Beni Kikokuryu||1992||Ojiya City||Haruo Aoki||Kumonryu×Kikusui|
|Ginga||1998||Ojiya City||Tetsutaro Kataoka||Ginrin Hajiro×Goshiki×Motoguro Kujaku|
*quoted from the data by All Japan Nishikigoi Promotion Association