is the term applied to a koi that has a
This definition is confusing to beginners, since modern showa
clearly shows that it also has a white body with red and black
markings, just like a
definition came from the early history of showa. When this
breed emerged and was established, it was predominantly black.
At that time, most breeders keep this breed for its
'blackness.' Nowadays, hobbyists prefer a more balanced
mix of red, white, and black.
difference between a sanke and a showa is in the appearance of
the sumi markings. Sanke sumi tend to be in the form of
spots generally confined to the body above the lateral line, while showa sumi appear
to be relatively larger streaks that 'wrap' around the body
(going below the lateral line) as well as extend into the head.
Showa as a koi breed was established around 1920, during the
Showa Emperor Era.
shiro (white) base color of the body must be unblemished,
thick, snowy, and even milky. The shiro must not exhibit any
(red) markings on the
white body must be solid, deep, and evenly-colored throughout
the entire body. The edges of these markings (also known as
the 'kiwa') must be very defined, or as they say, 'sharp as a
The hi color may vary from koi to koi, but it should be of
uniform hue within an individual koi.
Different koi exhibit different hues, from a deep persimmon
orange to dark, purplish red. This entire range is
acceptable, although judges invariably have their own
markings of a Showa must be deep, solid, and shiny lacquer-black. The shape of
every sumi marking must be clearly defined, with its kiwa or
edges as sharp as possible. Undeveloped sumi may appear
mottled dark blue or gray instead of solid black. This
is not bad for a young koi, since sumi actually develops as
the koi grows older. In fact, spotting a potential
a young age involves good anticipation of how well the sumi
will develop in the next few years.
The red and black markings on the white body must be artistically
This means that a certain color must not be confined to one side or one
end of the koi only. A good example of excellent showa
pattern is if the black, red, and white colors are
interspersed in a 'checkerboard' pattern.
The red-over-white pattern may be continuous or 'stepped', but
the over-all effect of white and red balancing each other
should be the ultimate consideration. Many people prefer stepped koi and understandably so, since this pattern ensures red and white
alternating with each other. Showa with a large percentage of
its body covered by 'hi' with very little shiro is known as
Hi showa is less desired, since the predominantly red body
makes it look heavy.
white area separating the tail and the red marking nearest the
tail is known as a tail stop, and is considered desirable. A
red mark on the lips of a koi (also known as
'kuchibeni') is a
'plus' if it enhances the over-all package of the koi.
good showa must have all three colors on its head.
Lightning-shaped sumi that streaks across the head and divides
it into two is desirable. This sumi head marking is known as a
V-shaped sumi pattern on the shoulder of a showa is also
desired. It used to be that judges look for both a
menware and this V-shaped shoulder sumi in a showa, but
nowadays the presence of only one of these is acceptable.
a round red patch on the head is the only red marking on the
showa, then the koi is called a
a highly-prized koi variety among the Japanese since it looks
like their national bird. If there are other red
markings on the body of the koi, then the round head patch
makes it a
The sumi of a showa must be distributed in the koi body such
that they collectively add balance to the koi. Their
presence should enhance the 'kohaku pattern' and not degrade
it. Old-style showa koi are heavily endowed with sumi.
Modern showa (also known as
'kindai showa') exhibit a sparser distribution of sumi, but these
should be clearly defined and solid black nonetheless.
The base of the pectoral fins of a showa must be black. This
black base area of pectoral fins is known as
The more defined and confined to the base it is, the better.
Please see separate article on
The Ideal Koi Body.