Judging Kohaku with Harry Beckx


Judging Kohaku

Judging_Kohaku_pics_1 Judging_Kohaku_pics_2
Kohaku 1 Kohaku 2
Judging Koi from a photo has its problems particularly body shape. When I downloaded the photo of the two Kohaku's it only filled half my screen and Kohaku 1 had a better body shape than Kohaku 2 even though both body shapes are good and yet when I open the photo to full screen both body shapes are absolutely awesome. A further challenge comes about because the photo was not taken from directly above the fish which means that it is difficult to judge the sashi properly on Kohaku 1.

Let's have a look at some of the basic principles of appreciation for Kohaku.

There is a classic quotation found in many Koi books that refers to the fact that most collections start with Kohaku and end with Kohaku. Those of us that have been keeping koi for a long time soon learnt that keeping good quality Kohaku that retain their quality for a long period of time is extremely difficult.

Conformation (all aspects of body shape):

The appreciation of Kohaku, as for all koi begins with the body. A good, strong confirmation-the overall shape and the proportions of the head, body and the finnage provides that incredible impression of power, grace and elegance that is as essential as a starting point to the overall impact of the koi.

Ground colour:

Must be pure snow white or milk white from the tip of the nose to the end of the tail.

Pattern colour:

The hi must be of even good quality from the front to the back of the fish. The hi must be bright and thick so that it is almost impossible to see the outline of the scales.

Pattern distribution:

The hi markings should be distributed to create a balanced pattern.

The markings must attract the eye and be interesting. There must be hi on the head. Preferably there should be no hi in any of the fins and there must be an ojime (the area between the last hi and the start of the tail).

The hi on the head should not go over the eyes and there should be a white area around the mouth. Good kiwa is extremely important.

Before Judging the two Kohaku's I am assuming that they are both large fish and that they are of a similar size.

Kohaku 1


This three step (sadan) Maruten Kuhaku has a really striking body. The body shape fits the classic torpedo shape, it has a powerful head with characteristic chubby cheeks and it has a very thick caudal peduncle which all adds up to provide an impression of power, grace and elegance.

This fish fits all the requirements as mentioned above i.e. The white shiroji is snow white and thick from nose to tail, the hi is thick and even from nose to tail, it is almost impossible to see the outline of the scales in the hi. This Kohuku has no hi in any of its fins, has a beautiful pattern with a white face and a striking ojime. The kiwa is very sharp and mostly the favoured marusome type ( follow the scale outline ) but it also has some very clear kamisori kiwa (razor cut across scales ).

Although this kohaku is a magnificent specimen it does have a couple of demerit points. The first issue is the pectoral fins; if you have a close look at the pecks you will notice that the leading bone is slightly short at the end. This detracts from the gracefulness of this fish but fortunately both pecks are like that and it is therefore symmetrical. The second point is that there appears to be a very slight amount of sashi on the leading edge of the shoulder pattern, this could also be due to the fact that the photograph was not taken from directly above and could therefore be a reflection.

Kohaku 2


This Kohaku is also a sadan kohaku but unlike kohaku 1 which has a balanced pattern this one has a very large heavy first step.

The body shape of this fish is also very good but it has a little less bulk than kohaku 1 and the caudal peduncle is not as strong. On close inspection of its right hand pectoral, will find that there appears to be a kink in the front bone, which if it is the case would give it a fairly large demerit.

The shiroji is excellent quality and no discernable difference can be found between the two kohaku's. The quality of the hi on the other hand is not nearly as good as kohaku1 because it is not even from front to back. At the start of the dorsal fin there is a weakness of the hi on the right hand side of the fish, which I find very distracting and results in a large demerit. If you have a look at the hi just behind the shoulders it looks thinner than the hi on kohaku 1 as you can clearly see the outline of the scales.

To be fair to this fish, it is possible that what we see there is a reflection from the flash and not a thinning of the hi pattern. This kohaku fits all the above criteria in terms of clear fins, ojime, white mouth and good kiwa.

Overall Ranking: The demerits on Kohaku 1 are far less serious than the combination of weak hi area, poor pectoral and slightly less bulky body shape of Kuhaku 2.

I therefore place Kuhaku 1 ahead of Kohaku 2.