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From Hotspot         (From Hotspot)


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Atarashi Sumi is the latest improvement to the Matsunosuke Sanke bloodline created by Toshio Sakai of the Isawa Nishikigoi Centre (INC). Another achievement for the man that has single handedly enhanced the body shape, the shiroji (white base) and improved the beni in both consistency (elastic beni) and finish (Maruzume Kiwa). So it should come as no surprise that he has finally turned his attention to sumi.

This new sumi, simply called New (Atarashi means new) is the result of several years work and like his improvements to Goshiki, the details are shrouded in secrecy.


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But moving on, it must be made clear that this Atarashi sumi is aimed at enhancing the Matsunosuke Sanke, not redefining it. The end product will be the large growing, streamline Matsunosuke body, the lustrous pure white skin that eventually develops Fukarin, even deep elastic beni with a high percentage of Maruzume Kiwa finished with this new Atarashi sumi.

Thanks to Alan Coogan we have some photographs of some early prototypes (pic A) of Sanke displaying Atarashi sumi. Toshio was happy to provide Alan with these photos to expose the BKKS Judges to the effect unrefined Atarashi will create. We don’t know how old these photos were when we received them but if Koi like this were to be released on the market the Sanke vs Showa debates that occasionally occur would almost certainly become more frequent.  At last year’s (2006) AJNPA Combined Show there were several Sanke on display that caused such debates.


Some were known to have originated from Yamamatsu (Toshiyuki Sakai) but there was another, exhibited by Momotaro with no obvious connection to INC. However, it is not known how long Toshio has been developing Atarashi, but his previous endeavours weren’t short term projects so the possibility that Koi with Atarashi blood are available is likely. It has been mooted that male INC Sanke with

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Atarashi characteristics have been snapped up by other breeders.As forthcoming as Toshio has been in providing Alan with photographs (He was happy to let them be shared with the hobbyists via the web forum Koi Chat too) he hasn’t been so generous in supplying details of how Atarshi was developed. Understandably it’s a trade secret. Therefore we are left to speculate and it’s no great leap of the imagination after seeing pic C & D to imagine that Showa has been introduced somewhere in its development stage.

The goal was to produce large, bold sumi patterns reminiscent of the early Sanke patterns of old whilst maintaining the glossy lacquer like lustre of Sanke sumi. A further goal was to produce a kind of sumi that would have 99% Maruzume Kiwa to match and complement the recent Maruzume Kiwa development on the elastic beni. I have to admit the picture that this combination on a big fish conjures up in my mind is truly fabulous in the dictionary sense of the word, but it makes me wonder if I haven’t already seen a forerunner. In 2003 Bill Oakley exhibited a very unusual Koi at the BKKS National. Known as the Saddleback-Sanke, this Koi had obvious Matsunosuke lineage, deep elastic beni albeit of a tangerine colour and some semi large sumi blocks of a deep high lustre with Maruzume Kiwa. If any readers can confirm or deny I would be very interested.

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Atarashi Sumi continued...

Here we are confronted with just about every Showa characteristic, menware, motuguru and wrapping sumi from below the lateral line. Thankfully, when we see a more refined specimen (Pic B) we can see that many of these features are already being bred out leaving the Atarashi Sumi exactly where you would expect it on a Sanke.

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It has to be said that as charitable as Toshio has been with providing us with some educational photos, he isn’t as charitable when it comes to appreciating our problems. When Alan pointed out the dilemmas that his early releases were likely to cause at benching he wasn’t that forgiving. Alan was curtly reminded that Sanke and Showa have different body shapes as well as different sumi. A Menware pattern on a Sanke just makes it a bad Sanke not a Showa.

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However, that’s easy for the great man to say, but it will not be so straightforward for our benching teams when cheap Koi with unrefined Atarashi Sumi come onto the market. But thanks to him and his photographs we have the opportunity to educate the public before those days arrive. This is my first stab at doing just that.

Bernie Woollands.

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Over the years the breeders, especially those like Toshio Sakai and Minoru Mano (Dainichi) have tried to improve all three of the Go-Sanke varieties often cross-breeding to improve the red and white colours in Showa.
In Sanke one of the by-products of these enhancements has been a decrease in the size and the boldness of the sumi patterns. We can only speculate that this is what has led Toshio Sakai to seek a new (Atarashi) type of sumi.
Looking back at the diagram on page 2 [see Hotspot, issue 6] or the original it was taken from e.g “Live Jewels” or other publications, it is clear to see that more Koi varieties have been developed from the Asagi-Magoi line (it includes all the metallics, the Kurasus, and Shusui) with probably only Showa and Shiro Utsuri being of note from the Tetsu-Magoi line. Both of these have been enhanced by crossing with varieties from the Asagi-Magoi line; Showa with Sanke & Kohaku, and Shiro Utsuri with another form of Shiro developed from the Kurasu & Kumonryu. 

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These enhancements have clearly led to some muddying of the waters and a mixing of traits, but nevertheless the fundamental difference between these two varieties has always been about the

“Type of Sumi - never just the

indeed location of the sumi on either variety is just a part of the pattern. If it is in the wrong place - it is nothing more than a pattern demerit, not evidence of a different variety.
From what I have learned about Atarashi sumi so far, I think it is going to be very important to bear these points in mind.

Bernie Woollands.

Bernie Woollands is a member of the South East Section and a BKKS & NVN Judge, whose articles have been published in Australia, Holland, Japan, South Africa, the USA and the UK.

This article was first published in “Hotspot”, the e-magazine of the South East Section.