Japan Trip 2015: Japan day 4 - part 2; Matsunosuke auction

We heard on the grapevine (koi chat at breakfast time at the New Otani) via some of the other koi people at the hotel, that the farm had delayed their harvest and auction by a week and as luck would have it - it was this weekend.
This was a big bonus to be able to attend... because, usually the auction is the weekend before the Nagaoka and Ojiya koi shows; so when I was choosing which weekend to base my whole trip around - it meant chosing to prioritise either the shows, or the auction. I opted for the show weekend, so it was a massive piece of luck that the auction was delayed and I was able to experience that too.

The auction setup was simple - in the car park next to Matsunosuke's Mushigame koi house, there was a gazebo, where the auction bidding happened. photographs of the koi being auctioned were pinned to a board, and the actual koi were held in two shows vats on the other side of the car part to the gazebo.

the fish being auctioned
The gazebo was set up with a line of benches on each side. The benches were made from wooden planks rested on plastic beer crates.
The auction process was as follows - a koi is taken from the show vat, and placed in a blue circular inspection bowl, which itself is sat on top of a trolley cart.
One of the farm workers would push the trolley through the gazebo, in between the two benches, for everyone to see the koi being auctioned. Then, bidding commences. To keep track on the current bid amount - there's a board with lots of number on it in columns. The first column has numbers in the 10's of thousands; the top number starts at 10,000 (yen), and then each entry below that shows an increment of 1000 yen. when the bidding hits 19000 and another bid comes in - the top number is changed from 10,000 to 20,000 - and then the bidding progresses once again down the same column - and the values continue to go up in thousands.
The second column is used for bidding that increments in the 10's of thousands.
Lots of koi were sold at values between 10k yen and 30k yen; and were some also some that progressed well into the 100's of thousands. I think the most expensive went for around 400k yen.
Each time an auction ended and increases the highest price achieve for a koi so far - a chorus of clapping breaks out to celebrate!
Make no mistake - these koi are a long way of the best that Matsunosuke produces, and I guess that's why they ended up at this auction. despite that - the quality of some of many of the koi was still way above the level that we usually have in the UK and the whole thing was a lot of fun, and there was quite a range of koi being auctioned in terms of variety and quality. Some of the examples really stood out, and I suspect all were sold at very reasonable prices for the quality on offer.

Toshio Sakai, who runs Matsunosuke Koi Farm, (Isawa Nishikigoi Centre), with his team running the auction.

I took some video clips, and have edited them together so you can see the end to end process, and footage of some of the koi being auctioned. It's a 4 minute montage:

We got to see the jumbo go sanke that had been harvested over the weekend, and you've already seen the footage from that on my blog post from a few days ago... always worth another look at the video of those massive go sanke coming up in the net though :-)

After the auction, we popped into Isa on the way to the Ojiya koi show; I just had to see those ponds of sansai and yonsai showa once more...

The Ojiya show was much smaller than the Nagaoka show - and also had a different atmosphere, with a main stand hosting various acts, and a whole range of side stalls selling everything from clothing to mechanical machinery!
Some of the scenery we drove through on our way to the Ojiya koi show

It was a smaller show than the Nagaoka show, but still has some interesting koi being exhibited

I took some footage of one of the koi farmers packing up their vat of fish... a rather tasty looking collection :-)

And, on the way back from the show, we stopped at a few more farms - and the notable one being NND. This is a group of koi farms that operate under one company. It's a well known name in the UK, but the range of koi coming into the UK didnt prepare for for the quality I saw in their show ponds, which included some good examples across several varieties and at decent sizes too. It was a neat and tidy facility, with the main show pond being the largest I saw on the whole trip. Definitely worth a visit if you're in the area.

Some video of the main display pond at NND; it was a little unfortunate that the water surface wasn't still but I found a spot where the water was fairly calm and you can see the kind of quality and size they have at this place.

There were several places around Niigata where we found the odd tank of goldfish! Yes... you read that right.... goldfish! Some were quite pretty. Still not my thing.. though.

We squeezed in one more koi farm on our way back to the hotel.. And in the evening, we headed out to a local food place and delved into the japanese food on the menu. Some of the items were a little out there for out palettes, and, to give you an idea, here are some pictures of some of the more usual items available on the menu: