Yagenji Koi Farm was established by Yaiichi Ishihara in 1962.
The farm was handed over to his 2 sons, Daisuke and Toshinori in 2002.
Koi varieties bred. (Current)
Sanke Beni Kumonryu
Showa Doitsu Kohaku
Shiro Utsuri Benigoi
Gin Rin Kohaku Soragoi
Gin Rin Showa Goshiki
Yagenji Koi farm was most famous in recent times for breeding Shiro-Utsuri’s. Before the devastating Earth Quake in 2004 many believed their Shiro Utsuri were among the finest in the world, myself included. Yagenji Koi farm do now breed Shiro Utsuri again and every year they make progress on getting back to being one of the best at this variety.
Yagenji were hit very hard in the Chuetsu earthquake, their state of the art Koi house was rocked very badly and was unusable for many months after. They lost 4 of their best female parent koi, along with most of their stock. 10,000 Tosai, 300 Nisai and many Sansai all dead. It was a start all over again situation and took about 18 months until their Koi House was fixed and able to be used again.
Thankfully most of the 4 year old Koi (Yonsai) and larger Koi were saved, so a building platform was made to try and bounce back, which they have, In a big way! In 2007 they could finally say they were in full production again.
Female Sanke from Momotaro
Male Sanke from Matsunosuke
Female Showa from Takeda
Male Showa from Yagenji
Female Kohaku from Yagenji
Male Kohaku from Yagenji
When Toshinori was 18 years old, his father arranged for him to work as an apprentice with Sakai Fish farms in Hiroshima, this gave Toshinori a clear picture of how a top commercial farm works, from selecting to shipping he learnt a great deal there. Daisuke worked as a Chef in Tokyo for 2 years before joining the company, at the age of 22 he was sent to Momotaro Koi Farm for 18 months to learn about the business before re-joining the company with his brother. I have also taken Toshinori to America where he judged a Koi Show and was able to see how the American market worked.
The knowledge base of the two brothers is incredible. Quiet and shy, but extremely professional in how they run their business, they both have a great understanding of how the Western Market and how the Western customers work. They speak a little bit of English and a coffee is always on offer.
Even with all the work they do, it’s still only Daisuke and Toshinori who run the business, their Father Yaiichi still helps out in a small way, he prefers looking after Daisuke’s Son which you see him doing all the time. Daisuke is the eldest son and the family home has been handed down to him. Toshinori lives away from the main house in Ojiya with his new wife and child. The business is still a joint operation, the brothers run it 50/50 and it works, it works very well. They are one of the biggest Koi producers in the Niigata area and still only have the two of them as staff. With over 120 mudponds, it’s a massive challenge for the brothers, at Harvest time they work from 3am till 8pm most days shipping Koi to all corners of the world.
I was lucky to enough to go out for dinner with the ‘Yagenji Boys’ as many know them as today, and got stuck in with a few questions for them.
Q: Where do you think your market is? Within Japan or export?
For several years now the vast majority of our production goes to export markets and we carefully pack and oxygenate our Koi for shipment here at our farm ourselves and then deliver them in cartons to the collection truck for transportation to the appropriate airport. Today Yagenji Koi are shipped to England; Holland; America; Germany; Belgium; Thailand; South Africa; Korea; Hong Kong; Singapore and China.
Q: What is the situation with your mudponds, are they all repaired?
We have many mud ponds in the mountainsides in which we can grow our stocks during the summer months. Our ponds which were damaged by the earthquakes have now been fully repaired and we have also bought new mud ponds to house our increased production. We are now breeding more Nishikigoi than we were before the earthquake. If you plan to visit Niigata we sincerely hope you will find time to visit Yagenji Koi Farm
Q: KHV has become a huge worry in the western world, How is Yagenji Koi Farm dealing with KHV?
After the recent fears of KHV, we at Yagenji have our stocks checked regularly by the Inland Fisheries research centre. To date all results have been negative and we have certificates that anyone can inspect to confirm this – our Koi have never been exposed to KHV so you can purchase healthy Koi from Yagenji with confidence
Q: Many people say how fantastic your Koi House is, the water is like glass, how do you make it look so good?
We work hard to make the water conditions in our indoor ponds as clean and as good as possible so that our customers can easily view our stocks, it is important to us that we manage our systems as best we can, the use of many sacks of Oyster Shell can be seen in our filtration chambers to help buffer the pH of the water.
Q: When is the best time to visit Yagenji Koi Farm?
Like all other outlets in the area October/November is the harvest time of our mud ponds and this is the best time to find and purchase stocks from Yagenji at Nissai and larger sizes whilst April is the best time to find and buy Tosai – we hope to meet you some day and show you our Nishikigoi stocks. In October and November you can find a wide range of qualities in our production ranging from very cheap right through to very special Koi which are priced accordingly – many of our Nishikigoi have taken major awards in Koi shows all around the world
If you are at anytime visiting Japan, please add Yagenji Koi Farm to the ‘must-see’ list.