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.
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.
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
a young age involves good anticipation of how well the sumi
will develop in the next few years.
The base color and black markings 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 utsuri
pattern is if the black and base colors are
interspersed in a 'checkerboard' pattern.
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
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
The more defined and confined to the base it is, the better.
Please see separate article on
The Ideal Koi Body.