Anyone that attended one of my talks at koi clubs last year may remember a comment that the All Japan Koi Show was possible to visit on a weekend, due to it’s close proximity to an international airport and good transport links.
Well I put my money where my mouth is, and I went. For 2 nights, halfway around the world. How much did it cost? Not as much as you might think actually.
The essential costs were as follows
Air Fare - £401
Transfer from Narita Airport - £16
Hotel - £58
Train fares from hotel to show (2 days) - £7
Total - £482, plus what ever you spend on food and drink.
But Tokyo is expensive isn’t it? It is what you make of it. A beer is £3.57, I have feasted on sushi for £15, for less adventurous eaters, a McDonalds is about the same price at home. I’ve also had a drink in a 39th story bar where the cost for one beer worked out at £28 with the service charge and live music charge (had I had another beer, it would been £18 each. It was the music charge that was a killer), so it depends where you want to eat and drink – the experience is so much better in the cheaper places, and the food is good quality.
This trip was very last minute, but I couldn’t miss the chance to see the 50th All Japan Nishikigoi Show, which promised to be one of the biggest ever. Normally housed in one hall of the Tokyo Ryutsu Centre (think Earls Court/NEC type venue), this year the event was staged in 3 halls. The usual hall was FILLED with vats, by moving the trade stalls in another hall, and the breeders/dealers vats to the hall below the trade stalls. This year, just short of 2000 koi were entered, from the smallest size class of 12cm and under, through to the 85cm+ sizes, a good handful, including the 101cm Grand Champion were exhibited over the 1 metre mark. New this year was a side view judging event, with small fish less than approx 20cm (not sure on the official size limit) were judged side on, in aquariums.
The judging is always completed before the event opens to the public, which is different to what we are used to at home, but I had already seen results on social media as I arrived at the show on Saturday around lunchtime.
No surprise really that the fish judged Grand Champion was the second most expensive fish sold at auction in Japan, beaten by a tuna this January. At Y203m (£1.45m) it is the most expensive koi ever, and 3rd koi to be crowned a champion a second time. This is quite a feat, as the winner isn’t allowed to compete the following year, so very difficult to keep a koi in the condition required to win such an event, 24 months apart.
2019 AJKS Grand Champion, 101cm Sakai Fish Farm Kohaku (S Legend)
And some more koi, some major winners, some special merits, and some that just some that I found personally interesting.
2019 Jumbo Champion (Runner up), Dainichi Kohaku
2019 Superior Champion
2019 Superior Champion (Male)
2019 Jumbo Champion A, Momotaro Showa (was 108cm in 2018)
2019 Jumbo Champion B, Kabuto from Marudo
UK entry, 50bu Kokugyo Award, supplied by Koi Water Barn
I believe the All Japan show is one of the best times for hobbyists to visit Japan, if you want to mix koi and sightseeing. The show is open from 9am, so allows the late afternoon and evening to use the excellent transportation network to see some of Tokyo – from ancient temples such as the Meiji shrine in Shinjuku or the Senso-ji temple in Asakusa, to the ultra modern bright lights of Shinjuku, there is something for everyone to see.
Because the mountains are much more quiet, there is no pressure to get up there and try and do as much as possible, so very feasible to make shorter trips, or swap koi buying days for sight seeing and culture.
A very busy Ometosando - A very popular shopping street in Tokyo
Supercars cruise around Harajuku, the high rise buildings make the exhaust notes that bit more special.
Capsule Hotel, my new favourite place to stay in Tokyo