Autumn 2018 – Buying trip to Japan.
Well a few days after returning from the third trip to Japan of the year, I have finally found some time to re-cap the latest trip.
2019 will be out 10thyear since Quality Nishikigoi started. We started off in a poly tunnel and have no grown to a massive 5000 square feet facility in Warrington.
We started going to Japan once a year when we started and now we visit at least 3 times a year, sometimes more.
We have been slowly building our business up over this time and never rushing. It’s all just happened.
Each trip to Japan we have been buying better and better Koi for our clients. Now a lot of our business is done while in Japan where we source special Koi for clients who have asked for certain Koi. This year just exploded.
Please remember that 95% of our clients who come into our shop just want nice fish to enjoy in their ponds, not show winners or bloodlines or anything like that, they just want to come home from work, open a bottle and sit and enjoy. They want a range of varieties they have seen in books and online, but just enjoyment only. That’s what we sell the most of and most of the other dealers too.
Some of these clients then get the VERY dangerous Koi bug and want to go further in the hobby. This is what we try and find while in Japan. We still also need the Koi for the shop for the majority of our clients.
Winter is still hard for many dealers so bringing in the Koi to sell at the shop this time of year is a cost that many cannot do. Yes, they may sell the Koi but many of the buyers do not have heated systems, so the dealer ends up keeping them over the winter months anyway.
The All Japan Koi Show trip is quickly turning into one of our busiest trips and we can buy all the Koi at this time anyway. So, before the trip we made the decision to bring fewer Koi back to the shop to sell. So, the Autumn trip was to take care of the clients who were with us on the trip and to find the orders, which were many!
It was a strange trip because when I left I wanted to get the orders done in around 5 days before the main party of clients came in, which I did…but then it just went crazy!
Everything I posted on Facebook sold within minutes, every Koi I sent to clients on the Text all sold, not a single “Can you have another look” they just bought them.
Then new clients who I have never dealt with before started getting in touch looking for stuff, which we found. Incredible really. The Koi sold were ALL High-end stuff too, some to keep and grow in Japan, some to come home and grown here.
We sold Koi to 4 different countries while in Japan.
We had a record Autumn buying trip. We also stayed less than previous years.
The Koi we are selling are getting better and better and we as a company are growing with it.
I do not know what it means for the Koi industry in the UK, but it looks promising for the first time in years. People are getting into it more and more.
So, a quick note about Japan this year…
The Koi this year were the best I have seen. Not the best I’ve seen since…whenever. The best. Which shows that the breeders are also improving year after year. I spoke to a few dealers out in Japan, around the hotel and around the mountains and they agreed that the prices are very good. The selection is large too.
The breeders seemed quite busy. Sometimes when you look on social media etc you get a false idea of how busy Japan is. Most Social media people are hobbyists who are posting pictures and video of certain Koi, show winners or special Koi they have seen, this is not an indication of sales in Japan, this is just appreciation of Koi they want to show others.
While we do not have any restrictions in Japan, we do have our go to breeders who have always supplied our needs. We still do the full rounds and have a look at new stock, which at this time of year arrives daily!
This year, and not according to me…but our clients, Shintaro had the best Koi, the best value and best size. Many people say “You always go there…” yes, I do. I have known the Shintaro family most of my life, but his Koi are excellent. The clients all agreed after seeing many other places that his Koi this year were another level. In one of the clients words who is a Go-Sanke guy…”Why go anywhere else” Testimonials to come.
Yagenji, a lot of people’s favorite in the mountains, very nice guys, very hospitable, nothing is too much for these guys. Sometimes you have to go back to the Earthquake which devastated this breeder, parent Koi and stock where killed. At that time the Yagenji brothers had the BEST Shiro Utsuri in Japan, no argument. They lost the parent stock and had to start again. While they started again they bred many ‘easy’ to sell Koi which dealers welcomed with open arms, they were selling thousands of Koi throughout the year. In the back ground though, they were breeding some very special Koi. It takes time.
They bought a new Koi house which is 2 minutes from their older Koi house and started using that for the better-quality Koi.
This year it really showed how they have re-built their business. It has taken many years, and the numbers are not huge, but they are well on the way to getting back to breeding TOP end Koi.
This has been the same for many breeders in Niigata, it has taken a long time to start again but the results are excellent. When you visit Japan as often as I do, you can see it unfolding in front of you. A couple of times this trip I just had a couple of minutes and just said “Wow” because it hits you how far they have come, and the work they have put into it.
The best example is on a Nisai Showa harvest with Shintaro. The ‘Usual’ best Nisai ponds had been harvested so when he asked us to go and help harvest 60 pieces Showa I just thought they would be for his cheaper end stock, not the number one stuff…How wrong was I.
I genuinely had a back problem this year, a couple of weeks before the trip I did something to it which at one point almost made me cancel the trip. Usually when I go to a Harvest I lift the Koi into the containers from the bowl. This time I was a spectator.
The pond was netted, we were having a laugh at some of the new guys pulling the nets…I was trying to get some footage of the pond being harvested.
The Koi were netted, the guys started bringing the Koi up to the truck and Kensuke (Shintaro Oldest son) was lifting them into the container…that’s when I just stood there, a little confused and shocked…these Showa were amazing. Not just the odd one, but the majority! Showa after Showa just coming out and I’m looking at Shintaro in the pond and he’s laughing.
I think this was the same for many breeders this year, they are breeding better and better and more numbers! Quality was excellent at a lot of breeders who in previous years have bred more numbers for the wholesale market.
We had around 50 orders this trip for High class Koi and filled them all easily. Koi from 40cm all the way up to 82cm.
This does not include the Koi we had growing in Japan which number 30 plus. The biggest went from 82cm in May and came out at 86cm!
One of our clients who had a Koi growing in Japan took best Sanke is the 65cm Class, an awesome achievement, and a VERY happy customer.
So, we move on again…2019 around the corner and no sooner do we get past New Year, we get the All Japan trip. We have a party from the UK and a party from America! Exciting times.
Below are some of the Koi we sold this trip, some amazing Koi.