Shortly before departure our sales manager fell ill and so I had to tackle the All Japan Koi Show in Tokyo alone. The biggest challenge for me in Japan is riding the subway. Even in Germany I find ticket machines tricky. But the Japanese ones are much more demanding! Somehow (usually with the help of friendly locals), I got my tickets and reached my destination.
The All Japan Koi Show in Tokyo celebrated its 50th anniversary this year and was therefore much bigger than usual. Any Koi awarded prizes by the jury were exhibited in one double hall. In another hall there were aquariums displaying Koi varieties for which there is no official category and in a third hall there were us, the exhibitors. This wasn’t really an ideal situation, because at first everyone just ran straight into the Koi hall. However, by the second day "our" hall was well frequented too, and we met a lot of interesting international contacts. A huge number of visitors came from the USA.
On the last day the Grand Champion was announced on the big stage of the Koi Hall. This is a huge spectacle every year, as the winner in each category is announced, the trophy is handed over and there’s a handshake from the Shinkokai President. A Chinese family (a whole family with their children took to the stage at least) had bought the Grand Champion 2019 for €1.5m (or so the audience said) to accept their prizes, which included a giant plastic koi, with great earnestness. The plastic koi was the only koi they were allowed to take home, because Japanese koi are not allowed to be imported to China. But knowing you have a Grand Champion swimming around in a Japanese koi farm is definitely worth the €1.5m.
After the exhibition we went back to our beloved ticket machines and on to our hotel. Although the Shinagawa Prince Hotel is popular with a lot of koi lovers, a good friend recommended I stay in the central Tokyo Ginza district. The rooms were just box rooms, but you could simply walk out of the hotel and experience a bit of Tokyo by night. He was right! The glittering metropolis was a fun experience and when I got hungry, there were 50.000 restaurants to choose from.
After 3 days at the show we rented a car and went further north to the koi breeders in the mountains…