by Peter Waddington
In this section of the article, I have included several questions that I have often been asked relating to the subject of Tategoi and it seems not unreasonable to include them as a Q & A session so here goes:
Question - 'What are Tategoi! - what does the word actually mean - why do all real Koi enthusiasts constantly wish to learn more and more about the word, they say, is the single, most important word in the whole Nishikigoi vocabulary!
Answer - 'Tategoi translates as Koi which will become good or Koi which will become better - simple isn't it! For the breeder, however, it has a more significant meaning which is that of Koi which will become very much more valuable than the brothers and sisters of his Tategoi and will hopefully earn him very good, extra profit - if his judgement is correct! The word Tategoi does NOT guarantee that the Koi will take an important award in a major show - this depends on the competition from other Tategoi in the same size group and classification.'
Question - 'In what categories of Nishikigoi are Tategoi found?'
Answer - 'In female Koi, all varieties and sizes from sizes when sex can be accurately determined. In male Koi, above 55cms, Go-Sanke varieties or those with potential to become incredibly long in size and therefore pose a challenge to Jumbo awards.'
Question - 'Why is this so!'
Answer - 'Because there are world class Nishikigoi shows held in Japan every year. The big three, in order of importance, are:
The All-Japan Show held in Tokyo each January.
The ZNA National Show held in various parts of Japan in late November.
The Nagaoka Young Nishikigoi Show held in the Ojiya area of Niigata during April every year.
All these shows are of vital importance to any breeder or collector owning Koi in almost every variety and size group which have the potential to take a First award.'
Question - 'Why!'
Answer - 'Because the Kudos of taking a First (or second) in any entry classification and size grouping at any of these shows is a great achievement for both breeder of the Koi and/or owner of the Koi taking the award.'
Question - 'Why!'
Answer - 'Because the guys entering the award winning Koi into the most prestigious Nishikigoi shows in the world know how serious the competition is as well as how difficult it is to come away with any of these awards and it is their chosen hobby or pastime which gives them their enthusiasm to compete - it is a result for the owner but a much greater result for the maker or breeder who can honestly advertise the fact that his personally selected Tategoi received the important award - a Japanese equivalent of I told you so - however, in every classification and size grouping only ONE of these I told you so's are ever correct in any one show!'
Question - 'Are you talking about small and medium sized Koi as well as non (Go-Sanke varieties when you talk about Tategoi?'
Answer - 'Yes, why not!'
Question - 'Why!'
Answer - 'Just because Jumbo Go-Sanke varieties always take the major awards in every Japanese show and smaller sized Co-Sanke entries usually take 'Kokugyo' (best in size - irrespective of variety awards) we must also not forget that there are many other varieties and classifications to judge at these shows and these also compete with others within their variety and size grouping for important awards.'
Question - 'So you're saying that classifications such as Hikarimuji; Kawarimono; Gin-Rin; Tancho and Koromo have no chance against Go-Sanke varieties even for the next most important awards to Supreme Champion!'
Answer - 'Yes, but these varieties and others still compete in a real show for important prize awards.
Question - 'It's coming over to me that you are saying that every Koi entered in these shows are Tategoi! - is this correct!'
Answer - 'No, some Koi, in every size group and classification entered in a large show are no longer deemed as Tategoi. That is to say they have reached their peak for show purposes and no further improvements will take place. However, every single one has been Tategoi at some time or other and that's a fact!
Question - 'We have been led to believe that true Tategoi are unfinished Koi, patterns have not yet developed, potential skin quality and volume have not yet come up to expectations. How can these hope to take serious awards!'
Answer - 'These Koi cannot hope to take serious awards now and, as a result, few are even entered until the breeder or owner considers that the time is just- right. In truth, these are secret Koi for next year; the year after 4 or 5 years hence.'
Question - 'How can you seriously tell us that varieties such as Asagi; Chagoi; Hikari and other similar varieties are deemed Tategoi?'
Answer - 'Why not! - a beautiful 25cms Purachina with perfect bone structure, stunning shine and luster has the potential to grow and still retain these qualities; in just the same way an 85cms Chagoi with perfect volume and unblemished skin has the potential to retain these qualities at over one metre long - both these examples are, most certainly, still Tategoi!'
Question - 'So these two fictitious examples would carry on taking awards forever?'
Answer - 'They could well do so if we do not take into account other influences such as keeping and feeding techniques, production of even better examples and the judges present on the day.'
Question - 'How much does a Tategoi cost!'
Answer - 'Which one!'
Question - 'What do you mean?'
Answer - 'Exactly what I say, ALL Koi can command a different price on a different day, you cannot seriously believe that you can simply generalize and put ALL Tategoi in ALL, sizes and varieties at a common price. In the same way I cannot even begin to estimate prices until I see the specific Koi that you wish to price. As I explain in Koi Kichi, you wouldn't even consider going into a gallery selling rare paintings and ask the owner the question - how much would an oil painting cost? as each and every one is different!'
Question - 'OK, give me an indication as to the pricing of Tategoi in a loose, general way'
Answer - "That’s better. Size for size – Tategoi that fall outside of Go-Sanke varieties are, with a few rare exceptions, far cheaper than those in Go-Sanke varieties simply because Go-Sanke varieties always have the chance, one day, to take Kokugyo awards or even Supreme Champion awards at a major show. However, EVERY breeder of the so-called ‘lesser varieties’ selects his Tategoi very carefully as these are potentially more valuable than his common grade stocks which form the vast majority of his overall stocks at any time. These are Koi worth keeping and growing whereas the others are for selling as quickly, in volume, as possible. A good example is that of Mr. Hiroi – Choguro in Araya – he produces the finest Purachina in the world and I can usually find many one and two year old Koi for sale there at reasonable prices. These however, do not include his Tategoi which are pre-selected and kept in separate ponds either to grow for a further season or to sell to those who are prepared to pay the asking price – however, at a casual glance, there is little to choose between the cheap and the Tategoi although prices can be twenty times higher.’
Question – ‘So his Tategoi CAN be purchased?’
Answer – ‘ALL Koi can be purchased – as long as you are prepared to meet the breeder’s asking price and take your chance on how the Koi develops and matures.’
These are just a few of the more popular questions I have been asked to answer about Tategoi over the years and am still asked the same questions on a daily basis.