The Strange Kumonryu
A year ago I saw some black-and-white koi swimming with Sankes
and Showas in a pond of one of my favorite koi shops. Their
bodies and behavior certainly indicated that they were koi,
but I just couldn’t imagine their color scheme and patterns as
being, well, koi-like.
I asked Allan, the guy minding the shop, if they were indeed
koi, and if so, of what variety they were. He replied that
they’re Kumonryu koi, and added that “they’re forever tategoi.”
When I heard the term “Kumonryu”, I immediately recalled
having read something about relatively new Doitsu koi from
Japan that constantly changed their black-and-white “killer
whale” patterns. So they’re finally here. I just didn’t expect
to see them in Manila.
Truth to tell, I wasn’t too impressed with their appearance.
Most of the koi in the pond are almost totally black in color,
with just small, random patches of white. Given that most
ponds have dark floors and walls due to algal cover, I
couldn’t see how they’d be able to compete with a good Gosanke
in the same turf.
The koi were also being sold at almost twice the price of a
Kohaku, so on this first visit I wasn’t inclined to get one. I
came for an Asagi, so I wanted to bring home an Asagi. I ended
up with nothing that day.
For the next few days I read up on Kumonryu koi. The more I’ve
read, the more interesting they became to me. Needless to say,
I was soon back in the shop for a couple of them.
Allan offered me the bigger specimens of their Kumonryu,
saying that their bodies are already developed and at least I
have an early indication that they’ll grow to a decent size.
But these ‘big’ koi were really drab-looking, I said.
I wanted a Kumonryu with a more balanced combination of black
and white, and went home instead with two much smaller koi,
but whose color combinations are more striking than those of
I guess I should have listened to the guy. I thought that
Kumonryu koi changed their patterns over months, if not years.
I was therefore really surprised when I saw my Kumonryu’s
gradually changing their patterns from day 1. I would have
been elated if the changes were for the better – they were
actually morphing into clones of their drab-looking siblings
in the shop.
I lost one of the Kumonryu’s on its second week in my pond –
it just turned white and died. I didn’t suspect it of being
sick even if it changed its colors drastically. After all, it
was a Kumonryu, and was expected to change colors.
The second one had better luck - it soon stabilized in health
and in color. I wasn’t too impressed with the outcome, but at
least it gave me the opportunity to know the Kumonryu better.
I have no plans of acquiring more Kumonryu for my pond in the
near future. I guess I’m one of those koi keepers who only
like koi with brilliant colors. Unfortunately, the strange
Kumonryu is not one of them.