Thanks to the ingenuity and dedication of Japanese master koi
breeders, the world is now blessed with a diverse collection of koi
breeds and varieties. Present-day koi are so brilliantly
colored that it's difficult to imagine all of them coming from the
dull-colored fish grown for food in the mountains of Niigata, Japan
To novice koi
hobbyists, the flurry of Japanese terms corresponding to these
various breeds can be daunting. The advice commonly given is
to get accustomed to the terms slowly and enjoy the learning
process. The starting point of this learning process is more often
than not with the three most established and most popular breeds of
koi, namely, the 'Kohaku', the 'Sanke', and the 'Showa'.
'Gosanke' is the term used to refer to these three breeds taken
"Koi appreciation starts with the Kohaku
and ends with the Kohaku."
Kohaku, which pertains to a white koi with red markings, is the
first breed to be established by the Japanese. Its simplicity,
beauty, and availability make it the most popular and logical choice
for a person buying his or her first koi. Through the ensuing
years this hobbyist may build up his collection by adding newer and
more sophisticated varieties. After having tried them all,
however, this hobbyist will most likely 'rediscover' the Kohaku,
finally experiencing first-hand what the cliche above really means.
But it doesn't end there, the cycle simply starts all over again.
Such is the hobby of koi keeping - a never-ending process of
'discovery' and 'rediscovery'. Thirty years from now, our
hobbyist might still be watching some of his or her original koi swimming in
the pond. If that will be the case, then he will have done
things correctly, and can rightfully claim that he has
achieved every koi keeper's dream.
Figure 1. Choose a koi variety and click on it (hover
over the thumbnail
image to know the variety's name)