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Showing: English style vs Japanese style.

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  • Showing: English style vs Japanese style.

    Since the outbreak of KHV in Japan several Japanese organisations and indviduals have been in touch with various Brits, me included, regarding information about managing shows English style.

    I guess if asked most of us could lay down the basic laws e.g. English style = One owner, one vat, Japanese style = vats per show category and size.

    But when you start to get right down to the finite details it takes on a whole new perspective. It goes beyond the style of showing right into the heart of the way koi are kept in our different countries.

    For instance. A Brit keeps his koi in a pond (or two) in his own back yard. In the main, he transports the koi to the show himself. On arrival at a show he is directed to his vat(s) and awaits for them to be benched.

    This is not the case in Japan where a hobbyist is likely to have many of his koi farmed out at breeders mud ponds during the year. His koi are transported to a show by these breeders who arrive at the show with several koi from different owners in a zipped container on the back of a truck.

    This requires either a fundamental change in they way they keep koi, or a totally new set of procedures for showing fish 'English' style. One solution under investigation is vats being reserved by breeders and displaying fish of different customers in mixed varieties. A whole new board game,

    This is just one of the dilemas faced by the Japanese in adopting English style and yet another obstacle to overcome.

    We live in very interesting times,

    rgds BERN
    South East Koi Club

  • #2

    Good and interesting points Bern.

    I don't think there can be any argument though, that in a competitive show the best way to judge those competing with each other, is to compare them side by side.

    This is more interesting for the show visitor, is easier on the shoe leather to judge, makes it easier to judge more accurately and gives a real wow factor when seeing several of same variety and size.

    It will be a shame if other considerations force the end of this showing style, but if it's necessary...

    "Gentlemen prefer ponds"


    • #3

      Hi Andrew,

      Re judging, A few years ago I would have agreed with you unreservedly.

      But now I am not so sure. Walking from vat to vat with a mental picture of the last fish vividly in my mind gives me a chance to compose myself and consider that fish for all its points. I can then make an easy comparison with the next one, and so on. If I get confused I can go back and check and continue to contemplate. BTW not only would I be contemplating what I've seen, but also how I will be putting that accross to the judge who's assessing me. Would I have this luxury at a Japanese style show? Maybe its just easier on trainee judges at an English style show.

      Re impact, Japanese style every time. I'll never forget the sight of 40 50-55cm Kohakus in three vats at my first Nogyosai. That was mind blowing.

      I wonder what I think after another year on the circuit.

      rgds BERN
      South East Koi Club


      • #4


        Never done judging formally, however have spent many shows as you know 'judging'.

        I think i've only been to one Japanese style show outside of Japan and that was the last national in this format.

        I think when you are looking at GC potential winners then you can take thoughts from vat to vat, when looking at smaller koi where there is more competition then i guess it has to be a lot harder, although the Essex show this year seemed to challenge that with the amount of leg work going between the 2 vats with the 2 potential winners in it, quite why it took so long is anyones guess, perhaps it was part of the JSC fitness challenge programme!!! :lol: :lol:

        In truth, in the UK at least, I'm unconvinced that we will ever see a Japanese style show. It is interesting that the US seem to be re-adopting the format. How long this will last there only time will tell.
        Mark Gardner


        • #5

          I worked in a judging team at this years Dutch show with two Japanese judges and was expecting to have to assist them with the English style of paperwork, but found they were as at home with it as any BKKS judge. They were equally comfortable and experienced with the English show format, totally familiar with the nuances and tricks of the trade. When I commented on it, they responded by saying that any international ZNA judge has to come to terms with English style as soon as they leave Japan, as it is rarely Japanese style anywhere else.

          rgds BERN
          South East Koi Club


          • #6

            English Style

            Somebody explain how it is possible to do decent judging at an English style show with over 3,000 entries? No judges could have that good a memory. I think impressive pattern would stick in the mind, but finer points would be lost after walking 50 meters past 1000 fish.


            • #7

              I think you right Mike, there is a point where practicalities start to make it impossible.

              At the ZNA in 2001 I stood watching the judges with some Kohaku and Sanke, around the 50-60cm sizes, they were pulling out the ones they wanted to observe closer from vats containing perhaps 20 examples, with more than one vat per size and variety. I think such a number would be non existent outside of Japan.

              It will be very very interesting to see where the Japanese go with this. For those occasions when there is a close call the koi could be put in sterlised bowls and wheeled to the same area to be observed in closer proximity.

              Alternatively, if the entrants are known in advance then i guess it is possible to arrange the koi in such a way that competing koi will be closer together.

              Mark Gardner


              • #8

                Hi MikeM.

                I am going to be pedantic here so that things are put into perspective. However, I am not disagreeing with you.

                Nobody walks 50 meters past 1000 fish. You walk from one vat to another to see the next fish. The show is broken down into several mini contests each with its own panel of judges. In the UK its 13 classes in 7 sizes, in Japan it is more as there are more classes and sizes.

                So, at at given time a panel of Judges will only be looking at e.g. 40 kohakus in the size 50-55cm Bu. You focus on the best and keep re-focusing until the decision is clear. A process of elimination.

                In some shows you are looking for just the top 3 which you then have to place in order. In other shows (in Japan), so I am informed, you select one 1st place and grade a number of others into 2nd and a further number into 3rd place. I would imagine the latter practise would be easier as there is less room for error.

                That's the pedantic bit.

                The fact must remain though that Japanese style of showing assists with the numbers that the major Japanese shows have.

                Whatever the format - the shows must go on.

                rgds BERN
                South East Koi Club


                • #9

                  Which leads to another point. If in Japan they did change to English style, one vat per exhibitor, think how many vats they would need for the All Japan and ZNA shows? Possibly to many to be physically possible?

                  "Gentlemen prefer ponds"


                  • #10

                    It's even more complicated than that, but according to Brians post from the health seminar its going to be attempted.

                    Imagine this for the scenario.

                    You are Mr X - a top ranking hobbyist wanting to show your fish. Your fish are located in your own pond, plus you have (let's say 3) growing on at 3 different breeders, eg Dainichi, Momotaro and Marudoh. And you want all of them entered in the show.

                    You'll book your own vat, and the breeders will book theirs. Your growing on fish will be displayed in their breeders vats. It's the only way to maintain the Japanese way of koi-keeping and the English style of showing. Although it looks complicated most benching admin software available can cope with it.

                    This amalgamation of breeder vats and hobbyist vats may shrink the number of vats required. But until somebody runs the actual numbers the impact wont be known. I believe that is going on now.

                    rgds BERN
                    South East Koi Club


                    • #11

                      Very interesting, I look forward to seeing how this pans out.

                      Mind you, it put's the "Best Vat" award in a very different context!

                      "Gentlemen prefer ponds"


                      • #12

                        Given what they charge as entry fees, I imagine they could afford a few more vats


                        • #13

                          I decided to bring this old thread back up because I've been reading a good bit about efforts in Japan to adapt to the notion of English-style shows. Rinko has even highlighted a tosai "show" where the little guys were in individual plastic bags laying on the ground. But, it was the May issue of Nichirin that kind of surprised me when the following comment was made by the editorial staff:

                          "The English style show was the first experience for the Yamaguchi Chapter members, but the show was a success without any confusion. They think about 'judging by scores' for the next show. It must put judges through their paces."

                          The idea of 'judging by scores' was pretty much eliminated from koi judging a couple of decades ago in favor of a holistic approach. I found it very surprising that it is seriously suggested by a significant ZNA chapter & that the thought is repeated in Nichirin. Contemplating a 3,000 entry show, I can understand the temptation to make things easier. But, surely koi judging will not go backwards that way??


                          • #14

                            Having judged Japanese shows in Japan I can tell you that there are NO secrets between regional breeders. Everyone knows everyones fish and customers. In the Oita show that I judged , there were six main dealers. They brought their customers fish, they set up the show and they bagged thier customers fish. So if all the fish came from the same breeder/dealer facility it doesn't matter who the owners are. Especially if the dealer is given a fixed number of vats for all his customers and no others are allowed in those vats.
                            Our impression of Japanese style shows is formed by the hype surrounding the ALL Japan and the ZNA National. But the majority of shows are built around the concept of local chapters. And the local chapter meeting is still a real thing. So between the limited number of dealers servicing each chapter and the communal nature of the chapter itself, I suspect disease is not a big issue. And of course, there has not been any report of KHV at a koi show in Japan yet.
                            In USA shows, dealers are allowed to compete in a dealer division. They can also have a vat of customer fish that can compete with amatuer's tanks. The owners names are given and the koi compete like any other. But the fish themselves stay in the ' BLUE Gill farms' vat during the show. And that vat might have five different 'new owners'.
                            As for judging an English style show with 80- 160- 250- 400 - it doesn't matter. Each size and variety is a single event. So the totals don't matter in the least. In the crowded size/class you simple eliminate the bottom half and concentrate on the upper six or eight fish. After a while you do, as Bernie states, develop an uncanny memory for this quirky activity!

                            Japanese style is gone in America for the forseeable future. Only one hold out left that I know of. But with KHV having now effected three US shows, it is irresponsible, albeit a sad admission, to put peoples pets at risk for efficiency sake. Reality has tempered most thinking people's preferences at this point.


                            • #15

                              Great post guys! That's what I get for going back to the farm and working with the kohakus and sanke's. Not much to be added but lots of good input
                              on a timely subject!
                              Dick Benbow


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