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Thread: Matsukawabake & Showa

  1. #1
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    Matsukawabake & Showa

    While waiting for Hurricane Jeanne to make her way through the area, I had time for a bit of reading. An article in an old Japanese magazine gave some curious perspectives new to me that I thought worth sharing. Paraphrasing,

    The Otsuka family in Matsukawa, Suhara village, was well known in the late 19th century for their production of Asagi, of which they produced several unusual strains for that time. Among them was a strange Asagi with a pattern of Bekko overlaying the Asagi scales. The pattern would become faint or even disappear during the summer, only to return with cool autumn temperatures, but not always with the same pattern. The pattern would change. Sometimes the change was so great that the fish would not be recognized. It would be a low grade fish of no worth in the summer, but have high grade character during the winter. The fish was treated as a monster (bakemono), and was given the name Bake Asagi. It became popular, and known as Matsukawa's Bake Asagi. In time, it was shortened to Matsukawabake.

    The author continues ...

    Having Hi on the abdomen of the fish was highly valued. Regrettably, the patterns were not stable, but some of the people (of the village/area???) succeeded in producing "the most excellent koi that had ever been produced from the offsprings of this origin". But the instability of the patterns persisted.

    The author then posits:

    "Here, we would like to explain the question, 'Why does the Showa Sanshouku change drastically from the stage of fry through that of adult fish?' And we'd like to introduce one opinion which was united in the home of Showa Sanshoukou. It is that the present Showa Sanshoukou has been improved by transferring plenty of blood of Matsukawabake. "

    _________________________

    The origins of Showa always seem vague. Other than that Showa was recognized as a variety in the late 1920s, that its sumi was independent of Bekko and its red was of different origin than Kohaku, I've not read much of anything about how Showa originally developed. This notion of a connection to an early form of Matsukawabake with the red of Asagi is interesting. NOTE: The article states that the Matsukawabake of today is quite different from the original, which is no longer to be found. Everything is improved, and thereby lost.

  2. #2
    Sansai
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    Mike,

    I read in local newspaper today that Jeanne has hit Florida. I hope it didn't do too much damage. It was also reported that it is the 4th storm
    in Florida this year. Is this true?

  3. #3
    Daihonmei dick benbow's Avatar
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    You remind me of myself a few years back. Always reading and studying.
    I enjoyed your interest in the two favorite koi types of mine. Matsukawabake and asagi.

    for those who would like a "rough" translation of the word matsukawbake
    matsu is pine, kawa is river,bake is changeable or variable. It was used to discribe the koi that was bred in a villiage in a pine forest next to the river that changed it's pattern.

    As in all koi, bloodlines and patterns change or evolve with public tastes.

    our showa as we know it evolved from tetsu magoi, from which higoi were discovered and aka bekko and ki utsuri were refined. this led to shiro and hi utsuri and eventually mr kobayashi added the kohaku red and began today's beginnings of modern showa.

    matsukawabake was developed from the asagi magoi line from which
    the konjo asagi and various black and white koi developed like karasugoi,hajiro, hageshiro etc

    The asagi sanshoku sounds intrigueing. I always liked goshiki sanke when that variety was developed and felt sorry it's popularity dropped.

    On a stormy night, it's fun to loose yourself in the history of the hobby you love. A lot of people now breed koi around the world and appreciate the beauty they bring to our lives, but a great debt of gratitude is owed to the farmers who upon noticing something different developed something new from it and stabilized the pattern. from such humble begiinings......

  4. #4
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    Yes, Kiky. There have now been four, but only 3 came through Orlando! There are now millions of people suffering a form of post-traumatic stress depression.

    Thanks for the translations, Dick. Sometimes coincidences occur. A client last week decided to call a new venture "Pinestream" ... a variation on an established development in the area "Rio Pinar" ... river of pines. I will have to keep in mind that matsukawa has a similar meaning.

    BTW, I take it you do not accept the writer's suggestion of a connection between matsukawabake & showa. Guess I'll have to find somebody to take that old magazine off my hands! [For everyone else reading this, the inside joke is that I got the mag in question from Dick.] Your summary is consistent with what I have seen elsewhere. I have also read of there being two lines of Showa before Kobayashi improved it to be a worthwhile variety. One line created by Jintaro (Jyukichi Hoshino) from Ouchi and another raised by someone in Uonuma. ... and I have no idea whether those two places are anywhere close to one another or not!! I do wish there was a fully illustrated history of nishikigoi so the relationship with original varieties could be better understood. The notion of an Asagi red abdomen on a Matsukawabake sounded intriguing ... can imagine a pretty dramatic look. A strange variation on today's Beni Kumonryu, in reverse?

  5. #5
    Daihonmei dick benbow's Avatar
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    Mike,
    I think JR has a handle on lots of koi development background if we could ever get him to write a book! It probably would have a chapter on asagi(lol) as well. Quess he was one of the judges this past weekend in Texas!

  6. #6
    Daihonmei
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    This thread points out a glaring problem with the whole body of information concerning the "history' of koi. One authority states it one way...another authority has a totally differnent take.
    The current historian/poster is well known for his knowledge base, yet how can written word accepted and presented as fact be disregarded.
    As alice said...curiouser and curiouser.

  7. #7
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    Luke, one of the fascinations of History as a subject is that the contemporary writers do not appreciate the importance of what occurs around them because their perspective is established by the history that came before their time. Some, of course, color the history they write to match personal biases as well as their personal historical perspective. The later historians may have the same limitations, but are more likely to be purists ... who really cares what the Scythians did in trading with Persians in 450BC? Even then, one must guard against the individual writer's need to make their work important by exaggerating the relevance of something to an event or trend widely recognized as "important".

    With koi we can look back and appreciate that the creation of Showa was a major step in koikeeping and had to involve great challenges to the breeders whose work came together in the first fish deserving of a new varietal name. At the time that trek was started, however, likely nobody thought the spawnings involved were worthy of any note. Just ponds of fry likely no better than any random domestic spawning today (except no metallics). Someone saw something worthy in a tosai or three. It may well have been another breeder decades later who saw what we would recognize as an ancestral Showa. The arcane history of a breed may teach us something about the nature of a fish today, but not likely. It is more likely to teach us about the nature of the people involved in the creative process, which includes the customer whose funds effectively sponsor breeding programs. We will probably never reach "truth", but if we better understand our own sense of appreciation, we come to better understand ourselves and perhaps others.

    A few years ago I saw a cheap little fish that I have since wished I had purchased. It was Shusui-like doitsu, with blueish, fading to gray upper dorsal area, solid chestnut brown flanks ... like a thoroughbred horse, and utsuri-like sumi on the abdomen reaching up mid-way toward the lateral line. It was some mutt that looked like a mix of utsuri, shusui and chagoi. But I keep remembering how solid the chestnut brown color was & how the black made made the whole of the fish stand out in a tub. I have not seen that clear and solid a red-brown on a koi since. I did not purchase it because it was a mutt, in a tank of recently harvested junk intended for mass sale to the petshop market. I think the price was $5 for any fish in the tank. I was looking for "good fish". Today I would buy the little piece of "junk" immediately. It might turn out to be trash in short order, but I would enjoy seeing what it became. At the time, my perception was too biased by the goals and standards I had read about. .... The person who kept the ancestral Showa for further development was not so limited in their perception. And, I imagine they had dreams for that fish. It would be curious to know if the dreams of over a century ago were accomplished in the Showa of today. I would like to think so.

  8. #8
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    Bumping this to top since the Matsukawabake is getting attention.

  9. #9
    wild horse dinh's Avatar
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    Thanks for sharing the information folks. Very interesting.

    Not so sure about the connection between Matsukawabake and Showa, since Showa is Black base while Matsukawabake is White base color.

    "pinestream" ? sounds fine. From Dick's explanation in his posts about the meaning of Matsukawabake in Japanese is so wonderful. Any other want to try another name in English for Matsukawabake?

    Hope Jeanna will not do any damage like other recently.

    --Dinh

  10. #10
    Tosai
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    I had one

    I had a Matsu.... When I got it - it was a dark steal grey. Hard to see and harder to catch in the tub of fish. Later on, it remained dark - ginrin too, but some ochiba like orange patches could be seen if the light just hit is right. Number of months later - I thought that my fish was dying - over the period of just two days - went to a light grey and black fish. (no orange) It later darkened and the orange patches could again be seen if the light just hit it right. Ended up putting it up for auction as it was just too aggessive from my small pond. Lucky for me - a friend with good sized pond bought it, and lets me know how its doing. Seeing the changes it made in just the short time was pretty exciting.
    Kim

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