Igarashi Kazuto is probably one of the most famous breeders in Niigata.
I would think that out of everyone who has visited the mountains he is on their favourite lists of many. His Koi are always in tip top condition. His Koi are always breath taking. His best Koi are always expensive. The reason for this is that Igarashi Kazuto likes to produce ‘Show’ Koi. He wins most of the local shows in the Niigata area and often some of the larger shows. The Koi are always very pleasing to the eye, they check the boxes that judges need checking and they take the prizes. Kazuto has clients from every corner of the world, supplying America, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, South Africa and all over Europe.
Winning shows in all the countries he has supplied his fish to.
Now with his son Toshinobu taking a large part in the running of the farm, they seem to be getting stronger and stronger. The Koi they produce are out of this world.
His indoor pond where he houses these superb fish isn’t as big as people may think. Its probably around 2500 gallons and has about 30 Koi ranging from 20” to 34”. It is a spectacular site. Of course this isn’t only what Kazuto does. Many people go there to try and find that ‘special’ baby Koi. He produces some fantastic Nisai, on the small side but very nice. People who have bought his small Koi have had very good results at many shows overseas.
Kazuto has a section of outdoor ponds next to the main road in Mushigame village. To the left and down a ramp there is another very big modern looking Koi house also belonging to Igarashi Kazuto. There are many special Koi in this house.
Igarashi Kazuto started breeding Koi in 1963.
The first Koi he produced were Sanke before moving onto Kohaku and then later, Showa.
The company has 80 mudponds.
He now runs the business with his son Igarashi Toshinobu.
Kohaku – Tomoin with Sunsuke female. Sensuke with Dainichi male.
Sanke – Sadazo female, Matsunosuke Male.
Showa – Koide Showa/Kobayashi female, Kazuto Showa and Dainichi showa male.
Kohaku including Tancho
Sanke including Tancho
Showa including Tancho
Q: You breed some of the best show koi in the business, are these the Koi you purposely try to produce?
A: Koi shows are a very important aspect of the Nishikigoi hobby. Beauty should be shown to as many people as possible. I try to produce beautiful Koi. I try and breed my Koi with nice patterns, pleasing to the eye. Koi that everyone would want to have for themselves.
Q: You are now breeding many Koi here at the farm. What do you aim for when breeding?
A: We like many other Koi breeders in the area try and breed as many quality Koi as we can. Not because we want to sell more and more, but because the more high class Koi we produce then the cheaper the fish become. We try and make customers happy but if we have had a poor harvest then we have fewer tategoi and then the price goes up.
Q: Your son is now very active within the business, when do you see yourself stepping down and passing things over?
A: (laughs) I don’t know. My son is very experienced, he even teaches me sometimes. His Koi skills are among the best in Niigata. At my age I cannot do the things he can do. The input he has put into the breeding over the last few years has been so important to the future of the Koi Farm. The fish have been better than previous years.
Q: You suffered like alot of breeders when the Earthquake hit. How did you manage?
A: We were quite lucky when the earthquake hit. We did lose many Koi but we also managed to move alot of Koi down to another facility we have in Echigo Yuzawa.
We had to repair many mudponds and also replace some parent Koi, which has been good for the business.
Q:How was business in 2008?
A: Well many people who usually spend alot of money didn’t. This is normal most years.
However some countries still bought many Koi from here. It has been slower than previous years and money has been much tighter. It has restricted us in some ways. This is the Nishikigoi business, we don’t expect it good all the time.
Q: What does the future Hold for Igarashi Koi Farm?
A: We are now very busy trying to make the Koi better and better. We will produce more high class Koi. We will concentrate on making better body shapes and making better quality white skin. We feel this is important in competing with other go-sanke breeders in this area. Mushigame has some if not the best Go-Sanke breeders in the world.
Q: Finally, I have done some interviews before this, and a few people have asked about your favourite Koi.
A: My favourite Koi has always been Kohaku. I try very hard to produce the very best quality Kohaku. A Kohaku with a superb body, clean and good pattern cannot be beaten.
We have a new Kohaku parent which is already producing better Kohaku than ever before. So keep checking at the Koi Farm, they will be very special.
For anyone visiting Japan and the Mountains of Niigata. You must visit Igarashi Koi Farm. He dosent speak English very well but speaks Koi language very well! His wife will always be there with coffee and fruit while you spend hours gazing into his main pond after harvest. A sight that must be seen.