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Conditions in Niigata

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  • Conditions in Niigata

    I was wondering...
    I had the impression that due to the earthquake and damage to koi-houses, many fish were either inaccessable for harvesting or lacked facilities to keep them through the winter and as a result were lest in the mud ponds. Is this correct?

    Should this be the case, can you give us any indication of what conditions are like at the moment with regards to survival of these fish through the winter.

    Here in Europe the winter has been very mild so far and I was curious what it was like in Niigata.

    Semper in excreta, sumus solum profundum variat
  • #2

    The last time I visited Ojiya was two weeks after the quake. The devestation was sobering. I was escorted by a breeder who wanted to visit Yamaksohi and got the chance to go past the police checkpoint for 30-minute drive. As terrible as things were, people seemed optimistic and committed to rebuild. And while many houses and greenhouse that were damaged or destroyed, there were also many that seemed to be in good shape. We visited a number of breeders in the Ojiya area. Some had lost many fish, but others looked untouched and I saw enough healthy koi to feel less worried about the industry than before I arrived.

    After traveling home for the winter holidays I have not seen as much news coverage recently on the repair efforts. Many new news stories are competing for airtime. However, I am sure that much is on hold as the whole region is covered with snow.

    This week at the ZNA show in Tokyo should be a good chance to catch up with the locals[font='&#65325] [/font]and hear about the situation. I also have a Niigata-ken English Teachers conference next week where I will see the teachers in the area, many whose apartment[font='&#65325]t[/font]s were condemned and schools evacuated last October, and hear more on how things are progressing.

    So hopefully I can report more soon. However, if I hear specific news of specific breeders loosing their stock, I’m not comfortable reporting all those details. During the initial reports of after the quake I heard and repeated news of at least one breeders loss that turned[font='&#65325] [/font]out inaccurate and I don't want to make that mistake again. Hopefully though, I will have enough good news that I wont have to hold back. Considering the snows of Niigata winters, I think it will be well into the spring before we really have any idea what to expect for the near future.


    • #3

      The snows have started to pile up in niigata. The morning paper not too many mornings ago had a picture of the temporary housing and some snow shovelers
      in what looked to be 3 feet or so.

      I, like matt; thing it sage to wait till spring till word gets out on status of breeders and their stocks.
      Dick Benbow


      • #4

        Seeing and knowing the devastating effects of the recent earthquake in Niigata I hope this is not an inappropriate question and I'm sure it has already been speculated, however I would like to get other hobbyists opinions.

        Basic economics; it's about supply and demand which leads me to my question. How will this affect the koi prices in the upcoming years and what should we expect as hobbyists? I have heard two sides of the equation. One is that the prices will go up because of less supply and more demand. On the other hand I'm hearing that maybe breeders in an effort to rebuild will have to sell more fish for cash, possibly causing prices to go down.

        Again, I hope this is not inappropriate and if so, I'll gladly retract the question. I just want to get other hobbyists thoughts.


        • #5

          If you hadn't ask it many have been thinking it, so I think it doesn't hurt.

          Many dealers in my area had their fall buying trips interupted by the earthquake and following consequences. They have since secured their spring shipments and I have yet to talk to any that said they had to pay dearly for their koi.
          Many dealers were there at the time of the disaster and were abl;e to bring koi home. Those prices appear to me to be consistant with prices last year or just a bit higher. But look at the value of the dollar lately so it seems in proportion to me.

          My business sense says, some my have bought koi and lost them to the disaster
          whiuch means they may have to step up prices on existing and new stocks to counter balance their loss.

          ultimately, you as a consumer can set a price you are willing to pay for a new koi. Among the koi keepers I know in this situation who have been around the block a few times often say " There will always be another koi"........

          Do me a favor tho, insist on buying any koi this spring from a dealer who q tanks, raising the temps and knows how to properly prepare the new shipments for sale. If you have a q tank use it and if you don't have one it will be worth the expense to get a really top notch one ready. Be sure you understand what must be done to guarantee these koi are clean before adding to your koi pond! ( and as the immortal forrest Gump used to say.....
          "that's all i'll say about that...."
          Dick Benbow


          • #6

            In other agricultural activities with which I am familiar, prices are erratic immediately following a disaster. Some produce is dumped for cash, others hold back what they have hoping for higher prices. After a few weeks, prices climb for quality produce, but may decline overall due to large quantities of lower quality filling the volume void. Then it depends on whether the disaster affects the next year's crop or is limited to a single season. When capacity is reduced, the volume void is filled by lower quality, with price increases moderated by imports. Where imports are materially higher in price, or not available, there is a significant price increase. This often leads to those expanding to re-create the capacity they lost to over-expand. Long term price reductions can follow as producer profit margins are squeezed by the competition.

            As to koi, I've noticed that most of the dealers whose sites I visit do not have the quantity/quality of recent years, are not updating their sites as frequently as in the past, and have not used the marketing gimmicks used over the past couple of years. This makes me think they do not have the inventory levels of recent years. I think they are waiting for the snows to melt in the hope of finding more in Spring, and meanwhile are getting what they can from other areas, but that is not so easy when pre-existing relationships are few and the quality made available to them is less than their customers have come to expect.

            Speculation on my part: Since there is a huge price gap between the low volume high quality koi and the large volume medium quality, and the endless volume of low quality, and the loss of mud pond/greenhouse capacity cannot be replaced quickly, I expect there will be substantial price increases for the highest quality koi for the next few years, but that medium quality will not rise too much because the number of tosai worth growing to nisai can be rationalized. Marginal ones can be kept that in other times would be dumped. A number of growers will likely stock ponds more heavily to get volume up, although some reduction in size will follow. The price differential between a 13" nisai and a 14" one is not very great, but pond production volume can be quite a bit greater ... a factor to be given weight in a time of relative shortage when a need exists to increase revenue to fund infrastructure replacement. As to low quality koi, there are always more than there is demand. Pricing reflects cost of harvesting and delivery more than value of the product ... better to sell than to trash them. Facilities in other areas that have the capacity to produce larger volumes of medium quality will do so to meet demand, but they cannot increase the highest quality production. They already produce as much of the highest quality as they can.

            I believe the greatest long term risk to the Niigata koi farmers comes from southern Japan. If the farms there use their temporary market position to increase capacity, they will be in position after the recovery to gain a permanent share of the market, especially if they use this window of opportunity to build relationships with foreign dealers in need of inventory. This can lead to a permanent increase in production capacity greater than market demand. The losers in that situation will be those with the highest production costs, which is typically the producers who have incurred debt to re-build and those with less efficient operations. The mountain operations are inherently less efficient due to the distances involved.

            After the shake-out, I'd expect to see marginal koi farmers in the mountains eliminated from the business, with those having desirable niches in the best position to survive and be stronger ... such as those with ponds considered particularly desirable for growing out higher quality koi, with strong market names that maintain high-end customer loyalty (Torazo, Isa, etc). From the hobbyist point of view, a one or two year period of reduced volume of the highest quality, followed by apparent "normalcy" characterized by a new familiarity with koi breeders not in Niigata.

            ....just my speculation.


            • #7




              • #8


                Whilst in Japan last week the evening news reported 68cms of snowfall in Niigata.
                Mark Gardner


                • #9

                  Nishi8...Some good input. Green houses and mud ponds are at the heart of any operation and the last few years they've been on the increase.

                  Mark...No input on what you saw this last trip? Anything about what you heard or what was talked about?

                  I know that Arthur who posts here, has an associate who will be over in Japan for the show and to nose around. Hopefully he will share what he is experiencing.....
                  Dick Benbow


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