Marusho Koi Farm

Mr. Shosaku Ikarashi is very famous in Niigata and his Shiro Utsuri is popular with Koi fans because his Shiro Utsuri has taken prizes in the All Japan Nishikigoi Show of ZNA.

Learn More About Marusho Koi Farm

Owner(s): Shosaku Ikarashi
Specialty: Shiro Utsuri

Niigata is famous for Sake (Japanese rice wine) as well as Koi. Mr. Shosaku Ikarashi of Marusho Koi Farm makes sake in addition to Koi. He is considered an expert making sake. Such a expert is called Touji with respect. His Koi and his sake have won higher-rank prizes by competitive shows. Mr. Shosaku Ikarashi is very famous in Niigata and his Shiro Utsuri is popular with Koi fans because his Shiro Utsuri has taken prizes in the All Japan Nishikigoi Show of ZNA. He also breeds superior Taisho Sanke and Kohaku as well.

Interview with Marusho Koi Farm

Interview on January/February 2004

Marusho Koi Farm

Mr. Shosaku Igarashi
by Mamoru Kodama

Marusho Koi Farm breeds Taisho Sanke, Kohaku and Shiro Utsuri at Mushigame, Yamakoshi village of Niigata. Mr. Shosaku Igarashi, the owner, has 34 years of experience as a breeder. Prize history of koi shows will tell the level of breeders. For example, his Shiro Utsuri won Best in Size and Adult champion at ZNA All Japan Nishikigoi Show. This achievement, that Shiro Utsuri won the prizes over Gosanke (Kohaku, Sanke and Showa), establishes his skill. (See page 30 for a photo of this koi.)
Kodama:
Tell us about your Shiro Utsuri. How did you start breeding this variety?
Igarashi:
A hobbyist in Kyoto owned a pair of Shiro Utsuri. That pair was very good. The offspring were winning good prizes at koi shows. These koi had a truly beautiful shiroji. I thought it WAS the ideal shiroji.
Kodama:
Was it that good?
Igarashi:
Yes. Absolutely. The Shiro Utsuri not only had Shiroji but also fine and lustrous sumi quality. I really wanted the pair and the hobbyist was kind enough to sell them to me.
Kodama:
Are they still alive?
Igarashi:
No. The current set of parents is the third generation. Because the bloodline produces good patterned offspring, it is to my advantage that I can cull them while they are tosai.
Kodama:
That is great merit, isn’t it. So, the pair you found in Kyoto really encouraged you to breed the Shiro Utsuri variety. How about the culling ratio?
Igarashi:
I cull and keep about 20% of the fry, which is about 30,000. By the time of the harvesting season of autumn, it comes down to 2000 –3000 of them. Among them, I keep about 500 for the second year. Out of 500, I keep 100 for the third year. I sell the rest when they are 2-year-old koi.
Kodama:
Mushigame is known for the best in breeding Kohaku and Taisho Sanke because of the clay soil. Marusho Koi Farm breeds high quality Shiro Utsuri even at this area. It is said that sandy soil is good for breeding Utsurimono such as Shiro Utsuri. So I know some breeders go even to Uonuma or Teradomari that has a suitable sandy soil in order to breed Shiro Utsuri. How do you breed fine quality Shiro Utsuri at Mushigame?
Igarashi:
Basically, I believe it’s the parents. If the parents are good, I can breed quite a good quality Shiro Utsuri.
Kodama:
Do you do something special to breed your Shiro Utsuri besides having excellent parents.
Igarashi:
Of course, the soil quality is very important. If the soil is not good, no good koi will be produced. So I sometimes bring good soil from other places to mix or nourish the soil with organic manure.
Kodama:
Please explain the characteristics of your Shiro Utsuri.
Igarashi:
Tosai Shiro Utsuri has a rough look on the sumi because of the soil quality. But as they grow to be 2 years old or 3 years old, the sumi will gradually finish in solid.
Kodama:
So, in other words, your Shiro Utsuri shows its real beauty from the age of three.
Igarashi:
You can say that. Also shiroji will improve a lot as well at the age of three. The Shiro Utsuri won the adult champion at the last ZNA All Japan Koi Show (2003) because I think the attractive shiroji and lustrous sumi exceeded those of the other Shiro Utsuri and even Gosanke.
Kodama:
How about Kohaku? When did you start breeding Kohaku ?
Igarashi:
I have been breeding Kohaku since I started the business 34 years ago. Right now, I use a female parent from Sakai, Hiroshima, and a male of my own. I buy female parents but never buy males.
Kodama:
Why?
Igarashi:
Because I think the male passes the characteristics of the bloodline stronger.
Kodama:
I see. Actually, your Kohaku, even male, has beautiful white skin. Sometimes, I even think they are female.
Igarashi:
My Kohaku also has good hi quality. The hi layer is thick. I do not feed color enhancing food at all. So when I sell a koi 2 years old, the hi is still thin. But the hi will gradually get enhanced as it grows. So there is no need to worry.
Kodama:
Now let me ask you about your operation.
Igarashi:
I have about 7.4 acres. If I want to breed more koi, I can expand the acreage but I do not. I focus on breeding higher quality koi even in smaller areas rather than expanding the ponds and increasing the production. For example, I breed only 250 of the 2 year olds. That is all. My ponds are good enough to produce these koi. I do not need more than that. If I want to have 500, I can. But I know they would not satisfy my standards.
Kodama:
Even if you breed fewer koi, you want to breed high level koi.
Igarashi:
That is right. I make Sake here when it snows. Like koi breeding, producing Sake has a lot of things to do with water. So I pay a lot of attention to water quality. I know why Mushigame is a great area to breed good quality koi. The area not only has good soil quality but also the quality of melting snow. It is natural pure water that comes out of the mountains. That has a good influence on koi. So I understand the merit of Mushigame and would like to take advantage of it. I want to put my entire passion to breed real high-quality koi.
Kodama:
Thank you for your time today.

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