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April 16, 2014 Pond and Water Garden Fish
Pond and Water Garden Fish

Koi Breeds Information Koi Competition - Judging Classes

Asagi/Shusui Class

ASAGI / SHUSUI JUDGING CLASS.

General Description

'Asagi' is the term applied to a fully reticulated koi that exhibits a blue color above its lateral line, and accented by red markings on its underside. Reticulation refers to scales that form a net-like appearance. Thus, an asagi exhibits a bluish net pattern all over the top portion of its body. This reticulation is created by the asagi's blue scales which are surrounded by white edges.

Appreciation Criteria

Color

The Asagi's body must be blue in color above the lateral line. The blue color must be of even shade and hue within a single koi, although it may vary from one koi to another. Depending on the bloodline of the koi, the blue color may be dark (almost blue-gray) or light (very light blue) in appearance. Many hobbyists prefer the lighter shade of blue.

Aside from the blue color of the asagi above its lateral line, it must have red coloration on the underside of the its body, just below the lateral line. This red color may also appear on all fins, the gill covers, and mouth.

Pattern

The most important aspect of judging asagi koi is the quality of the reticulation over its blue body. The reticulation effect comes from the lighter color of the edge of each blue scale. If the scales are lined up in straight rows, they exhibit a perfect netting effect that looks very beautiful. Asagi koi with perfect reticulation are therefore desirable, while those with uneven or interrupted reticulation are held in much lower esteem.

The red colorations of an asagi must provide a balanced accent to the total package of the koi. A clean and unblemished head is also a sought-after trait of an asagi.

Bekko Class

BEKKO JUDGING CLASS.

 

General Description

'Bekko' is the term applied to a koi that has a single base color of white (shiro bekko), or red (aka bekko), or yellow (ki bekko). Over this base color are black markings in the form of spots generally confined to the body above the lateral line.

Bekko is to sanke as utsuri is to showa. Thus, all criteria that apply to sanke sumi quality and pattern are applicable to bekko sumi.

Appreciation Criteria

Color

The base color (whether shiro, aka, or ki) of the body must be unblemished, thick, rich, and of uniform hue and quality. The base color must not exhibit any sign of tint of a different color.

The sumi (black) markings of a bekko must be deep, solid, and shiny lacquer-black. The shape of every sumi spot must be clearly defined, with its kiwa or edges as sharp as possible. Undeveloped sumi (also known as 'sashi') 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.

Pattern

The base color and black markings of a bekko must be artistically balanced. This means that a certain color must not be confined to one side or one end of the koi only.

The sumi of a bekko must be distributed in the koi body such that they collectively add balance to the koi. Old-style bekko koi are heavily endowed with sumi. Modern bekko koi exhibit a sparser distribution of sumi, but these should be clearly defined and solid black nonetheless. An important consideration in choosing a bekko is the cleanliness of its head.

 

Goshiki/Kawari Class

GOSHIKI / KAWARI JUGDING CLASS

General Description

'Goshiki' is the term applied to a koi that has a white base color with black-and-blue reticulation, overlaid by Kohaku-like red patterns. Reticulation refers to scales that form a net-like appearance.

The word 'goshiki' translates to 'five colors.' The original goshiki was developed from the sanke and asagi. Thus, the 'five colors' of the goshiki are the red, black, and white of the sanke and the gray and blue of the asagi.

Appreciation Criteria

Color

The shiro (white) base color of the body must be unblemished, thick, snowy, and even milky underneath the black-andblue reticulation of the scales.

The hi (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 razor.' The hi color may vary from koi to koi, but it should be of uniform hue within an individual koi. The red markings must not be blemished by any black spots.

Pattern

The red markings on the body must be artistically balanced. This means that they must not be confined to one side or one end of the koi only.

The reticulation effect on the white base color of the goshiki must exhibit a perfect netting effect that is visibly sharp and nicely distributed. Goshiki koi with perfect reticulation on snow-white body are very desirable. A clean and unblemished head is also a sought-after trait of a goshiki.

 

Hikari Moyo Class

HIKARI MOYO JUDGING CLASS.

Metallic koi that have more than one colour, but are not of Utsuri lineage, generally fall into this class. Hikarimoyo-mono derivation comes from two sources. One being Platnium Ogon crossed with many other varieties - except Utsuri, resulting in varieties such as Gin Bekko and Kujaku. The other group consisting of two colours - platnium, gold or orange - collectively known a Hariwake.. Examples are Orenji Hariwake and Hariwake Matsuba.

Hikari Muji Class

HIKARI MUJI JUDGING CLASS

General Description

'Hikari Mujimono', or simply 'Hikarimuji', is the term applied to a metallic koi of single color. The term 'hikari' translates to 'metallic.' Examples of hikarimuji koi are the platinum ogon or purachina, the yamabuki ogon (light yellow), and the orenji ogon (orange).

Appreciation Criteria

Color

The color of a hikarimuji must be unblemished, uniform, dense, and shiny. Luster of the skin is an important consideration for this koi type.

Pattern

In the absence of patterns on a hikarimuji koi, one simply has to ensure that the head is very clear, i.e., unblemished by black spots and other imperfections. The body, on the other hand, must be of uniform color and also unblemished. As mentioned earlier, luster of the scales and fins (especially the pectoral fins) is important.

Hikari Utsuri Class

HIKARI UTSURI JUDGING CLASS

General Description

'Hikari Utsuri' is the term applied to the metallic version of the Showa and Utsuri. The term 'hikari' translates to 'metallic.' This koi class includes the Kin Showa (metallic Showa with a golden shine), the Gin Showa (metallic Showa with a silver shine), the Gin Shiro (metallic Shiro Utsuri), the Kin Ki Utsuri (metallic Ki Utsuri), and the Kin Hi Utsuri (metallic Hi Utsuri).

Appreciation Criteria

Color

The color of a hikari utsuri koi must be unblemished, uniform, dense, and shiny. Luster of the skin is an important consideration for this koi type.

Pattern

The pattern criteria for Showa and Utsuri are applicable to Hikari Utsuri. In addition, luster of the skin and fins (especially the pectoral fins) is important.

Kawarigoi Class

KAWARIGOI JUDGING CLASS

General Description

'Kawarigoi' or 'Kawarimono' is the term applied to a koi that can not be classified into any of the standard koi types. Since this is a 'catch-all' category, a lot of established koi varieties fall under it.

An article by Douglas Dahl entitled 'Koi Classification and Judging Criteria' has given a good description of what this large koi category covers. Quoting the article:

"Included are all of the Karasugoi or crow carp family that are black with various white markings on the body and fins. Depending on how much white you have Hajiro (black with white only on the tail and pectoral fin tips), Hageshiro (black with white on tail and pectoral fin tips and on the head), Yotsushiro (Hageshiro with all white head), Kumonryu (Doitsu koi with killer whale pattern) and Matsukawabake (koi that changes from black to gray depending on water temperature forming a net black pattern).

There is a very new koi that has been put into Kawarimono due to lack of a better place because it is metallic and does not belong in Kawarimono. This is the Bene(red) Kumonryu called Kikokuryu. It is a metallic Kumonryu with a red pattern. It probably should be moved to Hikarimoyo because the black looks metallic so it has black, white and red metallic colors. Next in favor is Goshiki meaning 5 colors that are white with a red Kohaku pattern and two shades of blue and black netting not only on the red but also on the white. Cool water makes the colors darken. It is important for Goshiki to have a clean red and white head with no sumi markings.

The next favorite is the Chagoi or brown/green tea colored carp. These koi grow fast and very large and become the favorite in the pond by their gluttony. Also in solid colors are the Kigoi (yellow koi), Soragoi (gray blue koi), Midorigoi (green koi), Benigoi (red koi), Aka Hijiro ( red koi with white fin tips) and Shiro Muji (white koi). Next is a very recent cross between Chagoi and Kohaku or Asagi called Ochiba Shigure. This koi reminds people of autumn leaves because the hi shows up as a bright mustard pattern on a gray body with black netting over the whole body. The Doitsu version of Ochiba Shigure has been called “antique” due to the colors.

The next group is the Kanoko group. Kanoko means “fawn” describing a dappled Kohaku red pattern that looks like cherry blossoms. This group includes Kanoko Kohaku, Kanoko Sanke and Kanoko Showa.

The next group are the Kage (robed)group. They include Kage Shiro Utsuri, Kage Hi Utsuri, and Kage Showa. The last group are the non-metallic Matsuba koi. They are Aka (red) Matsuba, Ki Matsuba and Shiro Matsuba. There are also Doitsu versions of all of the above."

Appreciation Criteria

Color

Due to the large number of koi varieties under the category of 'Kawarigoi', this page can not describe the color criteria specific to each of them. However, the color criteria discussed in other pages for mainstream koi varieties generally apply to kawarigoi as well. Thus, colors must be deep and solid, with no signs of fading, blurring, spotting, or unwanted tinting anywhere. The shade, hue, and quality of the colors must be consistent throughout the koi.

Pattern

Due to the large number of koi varieties under the category of 'Kawarigoi', this page can not describe the pattern criteria specific to each of them. However, the pattern criteria discussed in other pages for mainstream koi varieties generally apply to kawarigoi with pattern markings as well. For example, markings on the body must be artistically balanced. This means that they must not be confined to one side or one end of the koi only. As in any other koi, the markings on a kawarigoi must enhance the total beauty package of the koi.

Kohaku Class

KOHAKU JUDGING CLASS

Kohaku are still the most popular koi variety in Japan and potentially the most valuable.

One of the most quoted phrases in koi keeping is that the hobbyist begins with Kohaku and ends with Kohaku. In fact, many new hobbyists overlook the Kohaku in preference for the brightly colored Ogon and other metallic koi because they feel that Kohaku look too much like goldfish! However, as they begin to appreciate the colors and patterns of koi, hobbyists often turn to Kohaku because of their simplicity and elegance.

History: Red and white koi appeared in Japan between 1804 and 1829, when the offspring of a black carp was found to have red cheeks. She was called Hookazuki and her white offspring were bred with a Higoi, a red fish, to produce koi with red stomachs. By 1829, a koi with red gill plates called Hoo Aka had been produced, and between 1830 and 1849 several different patterns appeared, including Zukinkaburi (red forehead), Menkaburi (red head), Kuchibeni (red lips) and Sarasa (red spot on back). The breeding of Kohaku continued and varieties were improved, especially in Niigata region, now considered the birthplace of koi keeping. In about 1888, a gentleman called Gosuke bought a Hachi Hi, a red headed female, and bred it with his Sokura Kana, a cherry blossom patterned male. It is believed that the modern Kohaku was developed from the offspring of these koi.

Colors: Kohakus are white koi with red (hi) markings. Ideally, the hi should have a good depth of color but, more importantly, the color should be of a uniform shade and the edge of the hi pattern should be well defined. This definition between white and hi markings is known as "kiwa". There appear to be two types of coloration. The purplish red hi is dark and does not fade easily. This color is considered to lack elegance and tends to splatter over the koi. Brownish red hi can produce a very fine, almost translucent, color but tends to fade easily. The white should be the color of fresh snow and free from blemishes. A poor white, which can be dirty yellow in appearance, will spoil an otherwise good Kohaku because the hi pattern will not stand out.The unity and balance of color and pattern on a Kohaku are of the utmost importance. As a general guideline, the hi should cover between 50 and 70 percent of the koi.

Patterns: Because Kohaku appears as such a simple koi in terms of coloration, the criteria by which they are judged is severe. The pattern is the last thing to consider when the koi is being judged but is probably the most discussed. Balance over the whole of the koi's body is the key to any pattern.

Head: On any Kohaku the hi pattern begins on the head. The traditional head pattern for the hi is a large U shape, which should reach down as far as the eyes. If the hi does not reach the eyes, the pattern can be balanced by "kuchibeni" or lipstick like markings. A hi marking that reaches the mouth is know as "hanatsuki" and a pattern that spreads over the face is called "menkaburi". Recently, koi keepers have begun to appreciate Kohaku with interesting or irregular shaped marking on the head.

Body: Large hi markings are preferred to small hi markings. A break in the pattern is preferred between the back of the head and the shoulder. Variation is also important. Koi grow from the abdomen, so when selecting a young Kohaku, look for a large pattern of hi. Balance of pattern over the body of the koi is most important. A Kohaku that has most of its hi pattern at the front of its body lacks balance and elegance.

Patterns Inazuma: This is a continuous pattern, extending from the head to the tail, but with a zig zag look. Inazuma literally means lightning. Nidan: Nidan means two and this koi has two hi markings. Sandan This Koi has three hi markings. Yondan: This Kohaku has four hi markings. Goten-zakura: This koi has a cherry-blossom pattern. The hi is dappled and looks like clusters of grapes. Kanoko: This fish actually is classified in the Kawarimono class and not Kohaku in shows. The head hi is solid but the body hi is dappled.

Tail :The end of the pattern is as important as the beginning. On a perfectly marked Kohaku, the hi pattern ends just before the tail joint.

Fins: Snow white fins are the perfect accompaniment to the red on white pattern of a large koi. As a general rule, hi extending into the fins is considered detrimental to the koi's markings. Hi in the pelvic fins is not a problem because it cannot be seen when the koi is judged.

Scalation: Scalation should be even all over the body of the koi. The Japanese prefer hi that is strong enough to disguise the individual scales. Scales that are visible because the hi is thin are known as "kokesuki". A Kohaku of any pattern with scales only along the dorsal and lateral lines is known as a Doitsu Kohaku.

Koromo Class

KOROMO JUDGING CLASS

General Description

'Koromo', which translates to 'robed', is the term applied to a koi that has a white base color, overlaid by red patterns with reticulation. Reticulation refers to scales that form a net-like appearance. In the case of Koromo, these net-like patterns are created by the blue edges of the scales over the red markings. Koromo is basically a cross between Kohaku and Asagi.

Appreciation Criteria

Color

The shiro (white) base color of the body must be unblemished, thick, snowy, and even milky. The shiro must not exhibit any yellowish tint.

The hi (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 razor.' The hi color may vary from koi to koi, but it should be of uniform hue within an individual koi.

Pattern

The red markings on the body must be artistically balanced. This means that they must not be confined to one side or one end of the koi only. An equal distribution of shiro and hi is preferred, so in general a koi heavily marked with red or predominantly white in color is not desired.

The reticulation effect on the red markings comes from the dark blue color of the edge of each red scale. If the scales are lined up in straight rows, they exhibit a perfect netting effect that looks very beautiful. Koromo koi with perfect reticulation on the red markings are therefore desirable. A clean and unblemished head is also a sought-after trait of a koromo.

Sanke Class

SANKE JUDGING CLASS

'Taisho Sanshoku', or 'sanke' is the term applied to a koi that has a white body with red and black markings. The black markings are in the form of spots that are generally confined to the body above the lateral line. Sanke as a koi breed was established around 1917.

Appreciation Criteria

The criteria for appreciating or judging a Sanke is the same as those of a Kohaku, with the addition of criteria for its black markings. In fact, it is said that a good Sanke is actually a good Kohaku that has been further enhanced by black spots that add elegance to the totality of the koi.

Color

The shiro (white) base color of the body must be unblemished, thick, snowy, and even milky. The shiro must not exhibit any yellowish tint.

The hi (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 razor.'

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 preferences.

The sumi (black) markings of a Sanke must be deep, solid, and shiny lacquer-black. The shape of every sumi spot must be clearly defined, with its kiwa or edges as sharp as possible. Undeveloped sumi (also known as 'sashi') 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 champion at a young age involves good anticipation of how well the sumi will develop in the next few years.

Pattern

The red and black markings on the white body must be artistically balanced. This means that a certain color must not be confined to one side or one end of the koi only.

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. Sanke with a 'hi' pattern that runs continuously from head to tail is known as 'aka sanke'. Aka sanke is less desired, since the predominantly red body makes it look heavy.

A 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. A good sanke has a red pattern (but absolutely no black color) on the head. The head pattern must extend slightly beyond the eyes but should not reach the nose or lips, leaving a white area in the front end of the head. A fully red head (referred to as 'menkaburi') that makes the koi look 'hooded' is considered negative. Nonetheless, some koi look good despite having it, so don't let it prevent you from buying a koi that you like.

A round patch of red on the head is considered nice. If this red patch is the only red marking on the sanke, then the koi is called a 'tancho sanke', 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 'maruten' sanke.

The sumi of a sanke 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 sanke koi are heavily endowed with sumi. Modern sanke exhibit a sparser distribution of sumi, but these should be clearly defined and solid black nonetheless. Koi experts also prefer sumi spots that are positioned over the white body. Conversely, sumi spots over hi markings are less desirable to them.

Showa Class

SHOWA JUDGING CLASS

General Description

'Showa Sanshoku', or 'showa' is the term applied to a koi that has a black body with red and white markings. 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 sanke. This 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.

The 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.

Appreciation Criteria

Color

The shiro (white) base color of the body must be unblemished, thick, snowy, and even milky. The shiro must not exhibit any yellowish tint.

The hi (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 razor.'

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 preferences.

The sumi (black) 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 champion at a young age involves good anticipation of how well the sumi will develop in the next few years.

Pattern

The red and black markings on the white body must be artistically balanced. 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'. Hi showa is less desired, since the predominantly red body makes it look heavy.

A 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.

A 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 'menware.' 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.

If a round red patch on the head is the only red marking on the showa, then the koi is called a 'tancho showa', a highlyprized 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 'maruten' showa.

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 'motoguro.' The more defined and confined to the base it is, the better.

Tancho Class

TANCHO JUDGING CLASS

General Description

'Tancho' is the term applied to a Kohaku, Sanke, or Showa whose only red marking is a round patch of red on the head. Tancho koi are highly-prized among hobbyists, especially the Japanese, because they resemble Japan's flag and national bird. No other red marking must appear anywhere else. The red patch must be as round as possible, and should not reach the shoulder nor the nose of the fish.

Appreciation Criteria

Color

All color criteria applicable to non-Tancho Kohaku, Sanke, or Showa are applicable to the Tancho type.

Pattern

All pattern criteria applicable to non-Tancho Kohaku, Sanke, or Showa are applicable to the Tancho type with the addition of one rule: no other red marking must appear on the koi except for the round patch on the Tancho's head. The head patch must be as round as possible. It must also be centered between the eyes, and must not extend to the nose or to the shoulder of the koi.

Utsuri Class

UTSURI JUDGING CLASS

General Description

'Utsuri' is the term applied to a koi that has a single base color of white (shiro utsuri), or red (hi utsuri), or yellow (ki utsuri). Over this base color are black markings that 'wrap' around the body (going below the lateral line) as well as extend into the head. Utsuri is to showa as bekko is to sanke. Thus, all criteria that apply to showa sumi quality and pattern are applicable to utsuri sumi. Utsuri was established around 1925.

Appreciation Criteria

Color

The base color (whether shiro, hi, or ki) of the body must be unblemished, thick, rich, and of uniform hue and quality. The base color must not exhibit any sign of tint of a different color.

The sumi (black) markings of an utsuri 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 champion at a young age involves good anticipation of how well the sumi will develop in the next few years.

Pattern

The base color and black markings must be artistically balanced. 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 utsuri pattern is if the black and base colors are interspersed in a 'checkerboard' pattern.

A good utsuri must have both 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 'menware.' A V-shaped sumi pattern on the shoulder of an utsuri is also desired. It used to be that judges look for both a menware and this V-shaped shoulder sumi in an utsuri, but nowadays the presence of only one of these is acceptable.

The base of the pectoral fins of an utsuri must be black. This black base area of pectoral fins is known as 'motoguro.' The more defined and confined to the base it is, the better.