In this blog we continue our trip around the koi breeders and their farms, traveling down south to Kyushu Island to visit Okawa and Ueno Koi farms, which we have visited many times before.
It was an early start and we were on the road down heading South, which would take around 4-hours drive. The highway we travel on goes inland, so curves around and through the mountains, with regular bridges and tunnels! This highway like a lot in Japan is a toll road, but worth it as it was very quiet…especially compared to the motorways back home, so made the drive easier. We stopped off for a break, with the service stations being a bit different to the ones back home…much smaller in size and no big franchise fast food companies. Most have a machine, with photos of different meals…you pick one, insert the money and it then prints a ticket with a number that you then take to the serving counter, a few seconds later your number is called out and you collect your meal…simple! So effective and time saving…no waiting in queues. There are also plenty of vending machines and often a 7-Elleven or similar.
It was midafternoon when we arrived at Okawa Koi Farm…and we were quickly greeted by Yuji and Yomeichi, brothers who run the farm. It had been a while since we last met, so it was great to meet them again! There main fish house is large with a number of ponds, so had a look around, with Yuji and Yomeichi soon netted and bowling a selection of Kohaku’s and a Sanke for us to take a closer look at and discuss. The Sanke and one Kohaku in particular were selected and then placed individually into a vat for photographing and videoing, before the day’s light was lost. The brothers have been introducing new bloodlines into there breeding and so was interesting to see their results.
Yuji and Yomeichi then took us all out for a lovely Yakiniku (grilled meat) meal! After the meal we went back at the farm, where for the next two nights we had the privilege of staying as guests at Yomeichi’s house…with fantastic hospitality!
The next morning, we were provided with a lovely breakfast, and it was nice to chat over the kitchen table. We were then out back on the road and headed to Ueno Koi Farm about an hours drive away.
Ueno Koi Farm is run by Hiroki Ueno, of which he specialises in breeding Showa. When looking in his ponds you have to study the koi, as it can be easy to miss or overlook them! So, after a bit of studying a few were netted and bowled for a closer look and discuss…and they certainly looked different in the bowl and shined. Photos and videos were taken, and they were then returned to the pond. In between viewing and selecting the koi Hiroki kindly supplied lunch, coffee and drinks from the 7-Elleven…we had also been provided chairs and as it was a nice sunny day we sat outside the fish house enjoying our lunch in the sun! crazy being November!
From Ueno our next stop was a brief visit to Ogata Koi Farm…they have a massive facility and have just built a new fish house, which was massive and very impressive. It was certainly nice to see.
We were then back at Okawa and out for another lovely meal! Once back at the house it was nice to chat to Yomeichi and the family over the kitchen table with a beer or two…and watch a bit of tv!
The next morning, we said our goodbyes to the lovely Okawa family and headed back up north to Yume Koi Japan HQ! It was nice to have another one more look at Mike’s ponds and also pop into Takigawa Koi Farm before heading to the train station.
We sadly said our goodbyes to Mike…it seemed to have gone too quickly and we could have stayed longer! We headed to the train station and found our platform, were we managed to catch a few Shinkansen’s flying full speed through the central track of the station, the sound and sight never gets old, really impressive! We then caught our Shinkansen, to travel back up to Shin-Osaka where we would be spending our last night before flying home the next day.
We’ve had another fantastic time in Japan, of which we managed to tick some more sightseeing locations off our list and make some great memories.
Many thanks to Mike, we once again had a fantastic time traveling around the koi breeders, with the added bonus of being able to help with his harvest again!
See you next year Japan!
Also, we now have a website which is solely dedicated to our travels in Japan. Please visit www.japanguiding.com to read all our articles about the locations we have visited in Japan.
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Stephen and Anthony