Among all the breeders in Niigata, Mr. Isa is definitely one of the most demanded and popular breeders.
Learn More About Isa Koi Farm
Owner(s): Mitsunori Isa Founded: 1971 Specialty: Showa Description: Taking the quality of his Koi as granted, his likable personality, passion, and sincere attitude for Koi breeding contribute to the popularity. Speaking of his Koi, their unique and bold bodies set his Koi apart from the others. Along with Dainichi Koi Farm, he is among the leading Showa breeders. All the winning records at All Japan Koi Show prove the excellence of his Koi.
Interview with Isa Koi Farm
Article from January/February 2002
Isa Koi Farm - Isa Showa: The Secret to Their Popularity
Many breeders produce Showa in Niigata. These include Dainichi Showa, Sekiguchi Showa, Seijyuro Showa, and Isa Showa. They are representative of the Showa Sanshoku and the most popular brands among koi hobbyists. Today, I would like to introduce Mr.Isa and his koi that are famous for winning the top "Kokugyo" award at the All Japan Nishikigoi Show.
Mr.Isa has been breeding koi for 30 years. What do you think koi are? Isa:
I think, "Koi are the products of soil." For example, wine is made all over the world and there are a number of brands, but all the brands are not necessarily good. Only a specific area can make truly delicious wine. Koi are the same. Koi can be bred anywhere in the world, but truly beautiful and quality koi cannot. I think only a selected area can breed quality Nishikigoi.
I do not know much about wine, but in koi breeding, "soil" is the key. Kodama:
Our staple food is rice. The most delicious brand is "Koshihikari" in Niigata.
Yes. The type of rice "Koshihikari" can be produced anywhere in Japan, but the "Koshihikari" produced in the Uonuma area of Niigata is the best. I think it is the soil of the Uonuma area that pulls out the taste of the rice. Like this, it is soil quality that pulls out the quality of koi. Isa:
Koi have an innate talent passed from their parents. It is nothing but soil that will bring out the talent. Of course, various skills of breeders are important, but soil has a larger influence than that. For example, even if we breed with thoroughbred parents, if the soil quality is not good, we cannot breed high quality koi like the parents.
You actually experienced it, didn't you? Isa:
Yes. For example, we breed Showa, Kohaku, and Taisho Sanke. Each variety needs different types of ponds (soil). If I put Showa in a pond suitable for Kohaku, they will not turn out to be good Showa. Showa need to go to a pond that is suitable for raising Showa. Kodama:
Do you mean that there is suitable soil for Showa? Isa:
Yes. I have mud ponds at two places called Muikaichi and Yoshigaya. When I release Showa fry from the same parents into the ponds, the result comes out so different. Suppose the pond in Muikaichi makes all the fry (100%) good, the po nd in Yoshigaya makes less than 30% of them good. Kodama:
Fry from the same parents come out so different, don't they? Isa: Pond (soil quality) makes the difference. So taking hatching and culling skills for granted, breed- ers must study what variety will be suitable for their ponds first. You can never breed good quality koi if you simply mate two koi. Kodama:
No matter how hard you work, if you breed a variety that does not suit your pond, it is a waste of labor and time.
Exactly. In my case, I found out that the soil quality of my pond in Muikaichi is suitable for Showa breeding. In turn, I successfully breed Isa Showa. Kodama:
Please explain more about Isa Showa. Isa:
The koi in picture (1) is the origin of Isa Showa. In 1981, the late Minoru Mano at Dainichi Koi Farm bred this koi. I purchased it from him when it was six years old and started breeding Showa in 1986. That was 15 years ago. Kodama:
How about the male parent? Which bloodline did you use? Isa:
Based on my many years of experience, I was very sure that the female Dainichi Showa could breed good quality Showa. With this in mind, I had to look for a good male to go with her. I looked at many different bloodlines. I have used male parents from famous breeders such as Suda, Takeda, Koise, Hosokai, and so forth. As a result, I found out that the male from Hosokai went with her the best.
The pair bred the Showa in picture (2), didn't they? Isa:
Yes. The pair has bred very good quality koi, but their sisters and brothers could not win at koi shows. At koi shows, good pattern as well as good quality is important. Kodama:
At koi shows, good quality is not enough to win. You need good pattern. Isa:
This is why I crossed this koi with a good patterned Showa from Suda (Picture A). From this pair, I could breed beautiful Showa such as (B), (C), and (D). Kodama:
The three Showa all won the Kokugyo prize at All Japan Combined Nishikigoi Show. Isa:
In 1997, Koi (D) won the first Kokugyo prize. It was 16 years since I got the Dainichi Showa to breed Showa. Kodama:
In the koi world, you must win the "Kokugyo (Best in Size)" prize or Best in Variety at the All Japan Nishikigoi Show to be recognized as a top brand. It is tough, isn't it? Isa:
To be a recognized brand, we must win at least the "Kokugyo" prize. To win the prize,
1. We must find a good female parent.
2. We must find a good male parent.
3. We must find the suitable soil (pond) for the parents (bloodline).
4. It requires more than 15 years.
Any of the above are indispensable conditions.
It took long periods of time along with trial and error to complete Isa Showa. Kodama:
Please let us know if there is anything hobbyists should be careful with when they buy
Isa Showa. Isa:
There is nothing to be careful with. My koi have a rather good advantage. That is to say that the pattern does not change much from their childhood until their adulthood. Kodama:
Showa usually change their pattern mainly because of sumi. They usually have a different look when they grow. Isa:
That is usual. Sumi gradually appears as Showa grows. It is common that Showa change pattern drastically. However, my koi, though I would not say every koi, will stay with the sumi it had when it was a baby. Kodama:
That means we just need to select koi with a good balance of hi and sumi when we buy your tosai (baby koi).
Son of Mr.Isa - Mitsunori
Yes. In other bloodlines, we do not know where and how sumi will appear. But my koi are not like that. Sumi and hi pattern are almost clear when it is a tosai. Kodama:
Because Showa have sumi, as a dealer, Showa is one of the most difficult varieties to buy. It is great that the pattern does not change that much. Isa: I think that is why my Showa are popular. There is little change and low risk. Kodama:
At koi shows, hi quality is important. How about Isa Showa? Isa:
We do not feed colorenhancing food in our ponds. So when hobbyists buy them, red may be weak. But it will be red for sure. So please do not worry about it. Kodama:
What about the pattern? Do we have to be careful with something? Isa:
No, my Showa already have sumi visible under the white ground. All it needs is to come out and get finished. So please look if the two colors (red and white) to form excellent patterns. Kodama:
Other bloodline Showa shows no clue where sumi comes out while Isa Showa does. So we only have to look at the pattern of red and black. Isa:
I would not say every Isa Showa is like that, but considering that Showa are a variety with a lot of change, I can say so. Kodama:
Thank you very much for your time today.
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