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Thread: Judging Shusui

  1. #1
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    Judging Shusui

    In the May issue of Nichirin there is an article on the variety Shusui. A sidebar has points of appreciation authored by Masahiro Ueda, the ZNA director of appreciation and judging. In the course of his outline of matters to be considered in appreciating Shusui, it is stated:

    "In my opinion, Shusui should be appreciated and evaluated by its body blue and scale blue, because its mysterious blue color was treasured when it was created. Orthodox Shusui don't have Hi on the dorsal area of the body. I feel it a bit unfortunate that many Shusui with Hi markings on the upper body have been awarded at shows. I think it less important that a Shusui have Hi markings on the back above the lateral line".

    When Ueda-san has an opinion on a matter of evaluation, it carries considerable weight.

    One of the earliest koi I owned was sold to me as a 'very special' blue koi. (And, it cost $6 or something like that, which was a lot more than the usual $2 koi that aquarium shop charged.) It was a Shusui with no Hi whatsoever. I eventually learned this was a cull, sold off in bulk because it had no Hi. I loved the bright sky blue of that koi. After a year or two, however, the blue became gray and there was not much to be said for it. I later acquired another little Shusui, which quickly became covered in a brick-red color with a grayish head. She grew huge for the pond and got attention due to her size, but was nothing like a Shusui. I have not owned another. Those bad experiences from 30+ years ago just turned me away from an unpredictable variety that seems to need soft water to avoid dirty smudging. Nonetheless, I find the award winners at Japanese shows to be beautiful. If I thought I could raise one and keep her in show condition, I would definitely want one. But, contrary to Ueda-san, I find the lightning-like streaks of Hi along the upper dorsal flanks are great assets. A Shusui with no red on the flanks above the lateral line seems very plain. Without the red, the dorsal scale alignment has to be absolutely perfect because the eye is drawn solely to the zipper and the koi has a plain appearance. I think I have much company in my thinking. It is uncommon to find an award winning Shusui at a Japanese show that does not have Hi on the flanks above the lateral line.

    I wonder if the widespread publication of his opinion in Nichirin will lead to more Shusui lacking dorsal red being entered in shows, and more winning awards.

    That $6 cull I bought back in 1979 or so might not have been quite as awful as I thought.

  2. #2
    Oyagoi yerrag's Avatar
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    Funny, I don't see even a trace of blue on my shusui. I see the blue on my asagi though.

  3. #3
    Sansai
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    Quote Originally Posted by yerrag View Post
    Funny, I don't see even a trace of blue on my shusui. I see the blue on my asagi though.
    What colour do you see?
    Pictures would make a huge difference to the discussions on the the varieties mentioned.
    Garfield.

  4. #4
    Oyagoi yerrag's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by coolwon View Post
    What colour do you see?
    Pictures would make a huge difference to the discussions on the the varieties mentioned.
    Garfield.
    Mine is off white, yellowish red, and black. Will pull up a picture later. But I'm sure I could do a search of shusui and come up with plenty of images and videos.

  5. #5
    Sansai
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    Quote Originally Posted by yerrag View Post
    Mine is off white, yellowish red, and black. Will pull up a picture later. But I'm sure I could do a search of shusui and come up with plenty of images and videos.
    I was just curious to see what colour your particular shusui looked like.

    Garfield

  6. #6
    Honmei ricshaw's Avatar
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  7. #7
    Sansai
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    Very,very pretty and so clean.

    Garfield

  8. #8
    Jumbo Appliance Guy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeM View Post
    In the May issue of Nichirin there is an article on the variety Shusui. A sidebar has points of appreciation authored by Masahiro Ueda, the ZNA director of appreciation and judging. In the course of his outline of matters to be considered in appreciating Shusui, it is stated:

    "In my opinion, Shusui should be appreciated and evaluated by its body blue and scale blue, because its mysterious blue color was treasured when it was created. Orthodox Shusui don't have Hi on the dorsal area of the body. I feel it a bit unfortunate that many Shusui with Hi markings on the upper body have been awarded at shows. I think it less important that a Shusui have Hi markings on the back above the lateral line".

    When Ueda-san has an opinion on a matter of evaluation, it carries considerable weight.

    One of the earliest koi I owned was sold to me as a 'very special' blue koi. (And, it cost $6 or something like that, which was a lot more than the usual $2 koi that aquarium shop charged.) It was a Shusui with no Hi whatsoever. I eventually learned this was a cull, sold off in bulk because it had no Hi. I loved the bright sky blue of that koi. After a year or two, however, the blue became gray and there was not much to be said for it. I later acquired another little Shusui, which quickly became covered in a brick-red color with a grayish head. She grew huge for the pond and got attention due to her size, but was nothing like a Shusui. I have not owned another. Those bad experiences from 30+ years ago just turned me away from an unpredictable variety that seems to need soft water to avoid dirty smudging. Nonetheless, I find the award winners at Japanese shows to be beautiful. If I thought I could raise one and keep her in show condition, I would definitely want one. But, contrary to Ueda-san, I find the lightning-like streaks of Hi along the upper dorsal flanks are great assets. A Shusui with no red on the flanks above the lateral line seems very plain. Without the red, the dorsal scale alignment has to be absolutely perfect because the eye is drawn solely to the zipper and the koi has a plain appearance. I think I have much company in my thinking. It is uncommon to find an award winning Shusui at a Japanese show that does not have Hi on the flanks above the lateral line.

    I wonder if the widespread publication of his opinion in Nichirin will lead to more Shusui lacking dorsal red being entered in shows, and more winning awards.

    That $6 cull I bought back in 1979 or so might not have been quite as awful as I thought.
    Interesting perspective. I would consider this more of a 'purist' or 'fundmentalist' perspective. Comparing Shusui against it's wagoi counterpart- Asagi, we can see the difference in the two. I can only think of one other variety that is similar in that it's wagoi counterpart is vastly different. That'd be Kumonryu and Matsukawabake. For the most part, we can consider a doitsugoi to be the same as it's wagoi counterpart- just look at Gosanke as example. One could say they share the same features. But Shusui and Asagi share very little, actually.

    So how did this happen? I don't know. My only guess is that it was a slow degredation from a standard to what was fashionable. Look at kindai Showa as the same. When the hell did we not want a Showa to look like a Showa? The comparisons are similar. What is fashionable at the time may differ from the standard. Perhaps Shusui follows the same path?

    I can see Ueda-san's point. Perhaps 'modern' Shusui are missing the mark. Look at Asagi with it's wonderful blue ground. Seems a shame to cover a nice blue ground with hiban. Personally I don't like heavy hi Shusi. And if the pattern is busy, it distracts me as well. Perhaps I'm a quasi-fundementalist and like a low riding pattern that is symetrical. I personally dislike a hi Shusui.

    I would think that a hi Shusui or even a heavy patterned Shusui is common in spawnings and that the challenge would be to keep the hi on the flanks and belly. To that premise, modern Shusui have lost this attribute. I know novice western hobbyists seem to prefer unique patterned Shusui. I see very little weight given to the quality of the blue.

  9. #9
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    I thought I would check the websites of the dealers I usually follow. I was expecting to see all of their Shusui had Hi above the lateral line. That is what I found. However, what stood out was how few Shusui they have listed. Even Kodama had just a few. Anyone looking for a good Shusui would have very limited choice.

  10. #10
    Fry
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    MikeM:

    Thanks for the heads-up. The few koi I started raising in the last 3 years and the 10 mixed fingerlings I just added have proven robust and easy to keep. The only real challenge for me is proper identification and judging future potential. The strict blue spin on the Shusui now adds to the challenge. Although I've not researched Ueda-san, he seems to be a respected authority, i.e. an expert. As such, his opinion must count and may well influence other judges (“[…] I feel it a bit unfortunate that many Shusui with Hi markings on the upper body have been awarded at shows.”). Both of the shusui pictured in two prominent koi guides I've relied on have Hi on the upper body and slate gray (Koi Collector's Pocket Guide, Koi poster). Perhaps the obvious slate gray should be observed as some form of “blue” instead?

    To compound matters, in a book titled, Koi: Everything about Selection, Care, Nutrition, Diseases, Breeding, Pond Design, and Maintenance, and Popular Aquatic Plants (2005, p. 11), the author, George C. Blasiola, notes four variants of shusui:
    * Hi shusui: Essentially described as hi on back; large blue doitsu scales on back from head to tail.
    * Ki shusui: Essentially described as having yellow and dark blue on back.
    * Hanna shusui: red markings on both sides and abdomen extending to tail.
    * Pearl shusui; doitsu scales with glittering, pearly appearance.

    According to multiple authors, shusui evidently means “autumn water”. What's in a name? Water and blue correlate. Autumn and yellow, red and orange correlate with the colors of leaves in autumn.

    Although Ueda-san's opinion is respected, it may not sit well with other experts...

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