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Ugly Duckling Koi

First posted in the Koi Blog on August 31, 2005



I do enjoy reading stories about how a koi can change its physical appearance significantly and turn into a totally different-looking entity, just like a caterpillar metamorphosing into a butterfly. No, I’m not even talking about Kumonryu koi here, which have the ability to change the black and white patterns of their body continually over time. I am talking about the traditional koi varieties seen in almost all koi storefronts.


Two articles always come to my mind when the discussion is about koi that have magically transformed into virtually new creatures of beauty. Both articles were written by Joel Burkard of Pan Intercorp and posted in www.koi.com.
The first article, entitled “The Flower that Bloomed Twice”, talks about a Goshiki owned by Shigeketsu Takahashi, which developed into “the spectacular koi that took highest awards in its 9bu Goshiki class in the 22nd All Japan Show in January of 1990”, primarily because of its stunningly beautiful red patterns. Much to Mr. Takahashi’s dismay, however, his Goshiki’s red markings later faded and disappeared altogether.


Imagine his surprise soon after, when the koi’s sumi “had reestablished itself into a crisp reticulated pattern against a now snow white field, prompting Mr. Takahashi to enter it in the 24th All Japan Show where it took first place 60bu Kawarimono.” Now who would imagine that it’s possible for the same koi to win in two different classes in the All Japan Show? A flower that bloomed twice indeed.


The second article, entitled “The Evolution from Tategoi to Show Koi", is about a Showa tategoi owned by Osamu Matsuda. It describes how, within a span of just 12 months, this young koi “has grown from 6 inches to over 16 inches, has taken first place in two very competitive shows, and continues to show great promise as a tategoi.” Reading this article is enough for me to appreciate the joy of watching a tategoi Showa develop into an exquisite champion - a privilege given to but a few in real life.


There are many other stories like these, I’m sure. Still, such phenomena are a rare sight to behold, and one should consider himself extremely lucky if he’d get the chance to own such koi. More often than not, our fully grown koi are just larger versions of themselves when we bought them at four inches long.


Much like the ugly duckling that eventually became a gorgeous swan, these magical koi are to many of us just fairy tale stuff read in books. But just like the ugly duckling too, they occasionally spring to life in the real world, giving us one more reason to smile …and live life happily ever after.





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