Join me, Taro Kodama, on the koi hunt in Niigata
And buy from the best breeders!
Every year, you have the opportunity to go with me and other koi lovers to select koi and see what really happens in the Niigata koi farms. Our trip is now right around the corner, and you can join us to visit historic farms as a welcomed guest and see the most unique perspectives of Niigata. But most importantly, you can buy directly from the breeders in Japan!
You can join us on the tour anytime from 10/10/19 to 10/31/19 and can attend for any amount of time. I recommend 5 days, like Monday through Friday; but if you have a tight schedule, 2–3 days is also possible.
My koi-buying service includes the shipping arrangements and quarantine at the farm in Hawaii including KHV testing. Read more FAQs lower on this page or contact me to learn more.
Please inquire and reserve a seat ASAP. Seats on the van are very limited. It is on a first-come-first-served basis.
I hope you will join us on this international koi buying adventure!
To reserve your seat on the trip or get more information, please use the form on this page below (or click the button).
Gorgeous koi? ✔️ Check. Niigata harvest? ✔️Check. Niigata culture and food? ✔️ Check.
Be there in person for the koi harvest
This is the time that koi breeders harvest koi from their mud ponds, and you get to see them in action. Watch out for the koi splashes!
Pick top-tier koi straight from breeders' ponds
Each koi breeder is unique; and you get to visit their farms and select directly from their collections of stunning koi. Dr. Tony Malone (pictured above) harvested his own koi.
Take in Niigata's culture and history
Learn the koi culture and history and experience the sights, sounds, and tastes of Japan. It’ll be a great time with other fellow koi hobbyists as we travel, eat, and experience Niigata, Japan.
Reserve a seat / Request a koi
- Please fill out this short form to let Taro know to reserve a seat for you (space is limited).
- Use this form to also request for your dream koi. Then Taro will hunt for it in Japan and send you photos of it and pricing.
Q&A for the Niigata Koi Tour
What to expect
Is it a package tour?
A: It is not. Because everybody has a different schedule, each traveler will arrange their own airplane flights to Tokyo and ground transportation from Tokyo to Niigata.
Once you land in Tokyo, I will guide you to meet me; and after we meet, I will arrange everything else including the hotel.
Where can I meet you there?
A: Once you confirm your trip, we will discuss where to meet. Usually we ask you to come to a station in Niigata where we will pick you up. Not to worry, it’s simple; and we have detailed instructions.
When can I join you in Japan?
A: We are usually there from October 10 until the end of the month. During that time, you can join us. But please inquire and reserve a seat ASAP. Seats on the van are limited, and this is offered on a first-come-first-served basis.
How many days do you recommend?
A: The longer; the better, of course. But I recommend 5 days like Monday through Friday. If you have a tight schedule, 2–3 days is also possible.
How much does it cost a day?
A: To make it easy for customers, it is a flat rate of $150 per person a day and must be prepaid prior to the tour. This includes:
- Rental car and gas
- Breakfasts and dinners in Niigata. Lunches not included
- KHV testing at Kodama Koi Farm
Note: Airfare to Japan ($1,000–$1,500) and transportation between Tokyo and Niigata ($200–$300) are not included. Travelers will arrange these themselves. I can recommend transportation options between Tokyo and Niigata.
What is your service charge?
A: My service fee is 20% of your total Koi purchases during the tour (minimum charge for this service is $1,000 for one person or $1,500 for a couple). This service includes arranging shipments and a quarantine and KHV test at the farm in Hawaii.
Freight shipping fees for koi from Japan to Hawaii and to your final destination are charged separately.
Visiting Niigata every year for the last half a century, I’ve built strong relationships with the breeders and can help you find your dream Koi at a great price.
When do I pay for my Koi?
A: You will not pay immediately at the breeders you buy Koi from because—all the Koi transactions are based on an honor system. Within 1 week after your Koi tour, please wire your payments. We will provide you the bank information with the invoice.
Please wire payments in Japanese yen as breeders take only Japanese yen. Because it is an honor system, no cancellations are allowed.
What to pack and misc.
What clothing should I bring?
A: Even though it will be fall, and we will be in a mountainous area—it is still pretty warm in October and November. So a long sleeve shirt and light jacket should be sufficient. Also please wear walking boots. High-heeled shoes are not recommended. No sandals please.
Do I need cash?
A: Yes, Japan is still primarily a cash-based country although many businesses accept credit cards. I still recommend exchanging your money to get Japanese yen in cash at the airport. $50–$100/day should be sufficient.
Is Internet available?
A: The hotels have WiFi; but while we are traveling by train or automobile, no Internet service will be available. I recommend renting a WiFi hotspot at Tokyo International Airport. Many companies offer this device to rent. I highly recommend you check this before you leave your home.
Are there other sightseeing tours not about Koi?
A: This tour is exclusively focused on Koi. If you are interested in sightseeing before or after this tour, please let me know. I cannot offer other tours, but a good friend of mine offers private English tours. I can connect you with his company.
Here are what koi lovers are saying:
“A Fabulous Trip to Japan”
Each day we visited different breeders in different parts of the Ojiya district including Musigame and many other small communities. Koi is the common bond throughout this part of Japan and an integral part of the culture. Sometimes we would return to check and compare a koi we had seen earlier. Sometimes we had to make quick decisions.
One day in the Dainichi warehouse there was a concrete pond of 2 year old showa that had arrived the day before. As we were looking at hundreds of beautiful young showa Futoshi Mano, president of Dainichi Koi Farm, walked up and asked if we had a favorite fish.
I looked at all of those fish wondering, when Penny said, “Yes, that one.” They netted it, and we bought it. Mr. Kodama smiled. Fortunately, it is a special fish that we took to Louisville this year. Lucky!
“I always wanted to visit Japan.”
Taro made it happen for me and he made the trip very pleasant, easy and fun. Taro make sure everybody is well taken care of. He picked me up at the Niigata station. He made sure my room was ready for me. Every morning, we wake up and had breakfast together, then Taro will drive us around to go Koi Hunting. Taro and his father help me pick out the best quality koi in all the breeders. Every night, we went out for dinner and drinks, everybody had a very good time. I also had a unique experience — Mr. Mamoru Kodama (Taro’s father) and I spend a day together, he let me do some culling with him, and I felt privileged to be his private student for a day.
I recommend the Niigata koi hunting trip to anyone who is interested in koi, not only will you find some great looking koi, it’s like you are in koi heaven, there are so many to choose from. Moreover, Taro make things so easy and fun, and you also get to meet a lot of new friends. Not to mention the authentic Japanese food.
“Go to Japan with Taro! You’ll think you’re in Heaven!”
You see, explore and experience places and people you have only read about in books. When I met “celebrities” like Mr. Isa, Mr. Igarashi, and Mr. Hirasawa (Marudo), it was like being at the Oscar’s in Hollywood, only better! And go with Taro! He knows them all, and they all know him, which makes things go quite smoothly. I could have stayed for a month!
Update: Travel with him on his 2018 Niigata adventure by reading his blogpost.
“If you are in LOVE with koi like I am, then you have to go to Niigata with Taro!”
I have known Taro for 5 years now, and he is an awesome and fun guy to be around, but he is even a better person to go with to Niigata. The best part is, he knows all the top breeders in Niigata. Whether you are going just to go and don’t know what you want, there are literally thousands upon thousands of choices. But I would recommend going with a list of koi you want because Taro knows all the places to find rare koi that you may never find at a lot of dealers.
The best part of my trip was that we got to wake up early in the morning and see Isa Koi Farm harvest some of the best Nisai koi. The feeling of witnessing that can’t be described in words. Don’t take my word for it go to Niigata you won’t regret it!
“…Each time it was an unforgettable experience!”
…I have been to Niigata twice with the Kodamas, and each time it was an unforgettable experience! Taro and his dad are most accommodating, asking us what breeders we would like to visit and making the necessary arrangements to take us there, taking us to local restaurants, and bridging the language barrier.
If you adore koi, then this is the trip for you! You are with fellow koi enthusiasts and much information can be shared… Highly recommend this trip — a wonderful KOI experience!