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Thread: Japanese snobbery or an enlightened point of view?

  1. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    We, as hobbyists of today, did not pick the fish that would be the most bred and thus the most refined. It was picked for us by the early breeders. The earliest breeders that sought to refine koi and make them better were Japanese. Maybe they picked them for flag colors, maybe for some other reason. Maybe red was the first defect that appeared on their food koi so was easy to get a few. Kohaku are not more refined and complex for us to ponder and enjoy because red and white are inherently the best colors. What if way back the favorite contrast of color would have been black and white? This would make sense. The early photos were black and white before color came around. It is a battle of the opposites. The presense of no color versus the presence of all colors at once. What if early on they thought Shiro Usturi was the way to go? Just how refined and complex would Shiro Utsuri be right now winning all the best Koi Shows. The sumi would be thick with no windows. The edge would be sharp kiwa. Maybe no two step sashi. That would have been bred out by making the shiro thicker. We would have ways to appreciate them. There would be a word comparable to Hoshi which would mean development of sumi from the outer edge of a scale. We would have step patterns, web patterns, inazuma black, wrapping patterns. All kinds. There would be rules on where black could be or not. Can black be in the eye? Should black go around the eye? Would there be a horseshoe pattern of black on the head? Would it be better to have sumi in the fins or not. There would be a whole book on Shiro Appreciation. The hobby would start in Shiro and end in Shiro. We would start with the highest contrast and most complicated refined Shiro Utsuri. Then go to those other colors and add red if you want but the reds all fade to orange in a few years anyway. So then you sell all those Kohakus and go back to Shiro Utsuri where it all started and you have one of two Kohkaus in your pond for color and maybe a Yamabuki.
    The Kohaku is not inherintly refined as it is today. It is refined because history over the years and what people said they were supposed to like were Kohakus. Kohakus commanded the most attention and so where bred more. They became more refined, people bought more and then were bred more. See the pattern. I am not saying that Kohaku are not more refined and more complex. They are because they were chosen to be the "Chosen One"
    Imagine if breeding in the beginning was started up and centered in the US. Would we be talking about refined Kohakus now? Something to think about.
    In the mean time we go where the action is even though the action was created for us not chosen by us. When we enjoy a style of art because of the art strokes they were chosen by someone as preferable to other strokes. So where does snobbery come in? Is it following main stream because they were chosen for us or do we naturally gravitate to them because we like things complex with lots of things to think about.
    I personally like the Kohakus with the crazy patterns. The ones that have the most things to check and critque. The ones with the most places for Sashi and Kiwa to be right, but also more places to be wrong. When a complex Kohaku is right, it is truely right to have all those ducks in a row at once. Is that the complexity that we love and appreciate? Then there are others that like the simplicity of a step pattern. Maybe it is all the directions a Kohaku can go that we call complexity and something to please everybodies taste. And when complex passes all our tests we give it with our eyes as we are setting there doing our "homework", that is what we call refined. It is the ability of Kohaku to be closest to that perfect fish that we can never find and does not exist. OR DOES IT? Somewhere. Keep looking

  2. #12
    Daihonmei PapaBear's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Davenport, Oklahoma
    Quote Originally Posted by kinkykoi View Post
    With respect, I think the term 'snobbery' is misplaced when associated with the Japanese. I'm no expert by a long chalk, but I believe the Japanese and their koi have evolved after travelling a very long road. They are undoubtedly the true masters of breeding koi, yet others are gaining.

    Myself, well I started with Gosanke, added other pretty koi, let some pretty koi go, only to be replaced by more, yet in the end, I still find myself looking for an even nicer Kohaku. And when I do, another of my 'pretty' koi will go. I feel it is a natural progression, a maturing of the koi keeper and his eye. I don't know why, but I understand why people can turn full circle and end up back with red and white fish. Simplistic beauty. A shoal of red and white fish simply looks more striking than a melee of colours.

    For me, the (often used in the koi world) term 'snob' quite simply sits with the koi keeper who believes he is better, more knowledgable, has a higher status, and derides owners of lesser koi, simply because he owns Japanese koi. No more and no less.
    I think you misread JR's intent.

    "Snobbery" is a word tossed about in Koi circles with the target ever changing depending on who is miffed at whom. Most of the older members here have been called "Koi Snobs" and "Elitists" for years, and precious few are Japanese

    There is something sad about the typically Western mindset that has come to be known as "You're Not the Boss of ME!". In the relentless pursuit of INSTANT gratification and so many other things that have come to define the "Ugly American" we have lost something wonderful.

    Humility and Appreciation.

    The same attitudes that wish to ignore the "roots" of Nishikigoi would also tell the rest of the western world that DaVinci was a pretender, Mozart a tone deaf hack, and the Spartan Warriors "cowards".

    Japan doesn't tell us what to like. They have simplly shared with us an art form that is culturally unique, and therefore best appreciated from that vantage point. And Art's observations on "why Kohaku" as opposed to Utsuri are also completely valid. I can envision Shiro's with "Callligraphy" patterns being the ultimate GC if they had been "first" in the line of refinement. That would be equally artistic from a specifically "Japanese Cultural" perspective, and beautiful to see don't you think?

    I can also envision a few "you're not the boss of me" folks deciding that it isn't really "artistic" unless the pattern looks like "English Characters" instead...
    Larry Iles

  3. #13
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Yes, Kinky mis read the words and missed the intent. JR

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