On this point, please read the interesting article by Dr Jim Phillips from our South African Koi Society which is available on the website of SAKKS.
Showa or Sanke
what is in a name?
By Jim Phillips (SAKKS)
The kohaku, sanke and showa varieties of Koi are collectively known as the gosanke. In this case
the "go" does not mean five, but refers to three noble Japanese families. The highest quality of skin
and colour is to be found amongst the gosanke and for this reason grand champions are usually
selected from these varieties. A Kohaku is a white Koi with red pattern markings while sanke and
showa are three coloured Koi; red, black and white. Showa and sanke appeal to all types of
hobbyists, especially those who want to show their Koi and compete for top awards. It is not easy
to raise a Koi with three colours of high quality, but for those that can achieve this feat, there is the
possibility of having a grand champion.
Hobbyists and even benching teams sometimes have difficulty in deciding whether a Koi is a sanke
or a showa. It is often said that a sanke is a white koi with red and black pattern markings and a
showa is a black Koi with red and white pattern markings. It is true that when breeding showa the
all black fry are kept at the first cull. However, this does not help to distinguish larger Koi exhibiting
all three colours. In his book, Dr Takeo Kuroki referred to Mr Eziburo Hoshino as being the first to
breed sanke while Peter Waddington credits Mr Kawakami (Torazo) as being the first to breed
sanke in 1915. The sanke variety has its origins in the reign of the Japanese Emperor Yoshihito
and the period of his reign (1912 —1926) was known as the Taisho era. Taisho means "great
Sanshoku means three colours and the proper name for a sanke is Taisho sanshoku or Taisho
sanke, which is commonly abbreviated to sanke. The proper name for a showa is showa sanshoku
and this variety was developed a little later in the Showa era of Emperor Hirohito 1926—1989.
Showa means enlightenment and harmony. Jukichi Hoshino has been credited with breeding the
first showa in 1927 using a ki utsuri as one of the parents. These early showas were of poor quality
and it was not until Tomiji Kobayashi crossed showas with kohakus in the 1960's that the high
quality showas we recognise today were created.
Ideally, a sanke should have a good white ground colour with a red pattern. In a young sanke the
red may be orange, like a young kohaku, but it should turn crimson with time. Ideally, the red
pattern elements should be like a kohaku; large, with two, three or four steps of even hue and
extending onto the head but not covering the eyes. The fins should be white and an additional point
of appreciation is a few, black, delicate stripes in the pectoral fins, known as tejima. The black
pattern elements should be arranged in a stepping stone-like fashion above the lateral line, similar
to that of the bekko variety.
PR heosetor v1e :G SrAaNndK CE h:a mpion, Southern Cape Show 2007.
It is preferable that the black is situated on the white rather than the red and a
black pattern element on the shoulder is particularly appreciated. There should be
no black on the head. While black on the head of a sanke is not desirable, it does
not appear to be such a big demerit as it used to be. High quality sankes with
some black on the head have won prizes at Japanese shows and have been
featured in the Zen Nippon Airinkai (ZIMA) magazine Nichirin. Some sankes that
have lost their entire red colour have competed well at shows in the bekko variety.
This is because the black of a sanke is of very high quality.
Itisshiny and laquer-like .The red of a showa is different to that of a kohaku or sanke. Young showa fry are
black. Their red starts to emerge as an almost greenish colour, which turns a
mustard colour and then into a dark orange. This dark orange lightens and in a
few years a very deep crimson colour can develop. As with all the gosanke, the
white of a showa should be snow white. Originally, the showa variety did not
have much white but modern showa are now being produced with much more. A
showa with less than 20% white is referred to as a traditional showa and a modern
type with more white is referred to as kindai. The black on a showa should rise up
from below the lateral line, like mountain peaks, in the manner of the utsurimono
variety. There should be black red and white on the head. A distinctive head
marking dividing the head called menware is particularly desirable.
Instead of delicate tejima stripes, the pectoral fins of a showa should have a tight
ball of black at the base of the fin, known as motoguro. The quality of the black of
a showa is different to that of a sanke. The black of a showa is more matt and
lacks the brilliant shine of a sanke .Breeders are always striving for perfection and improvement of the quality of
Koi. In order to improve the quality of the black in the showa variety, the sanke
variety has been used in breeding programmes. This introduction has improved
the quality of the black in the showa variety but has produced some Koi with
features of both sanke and showa.
Unfortunately, in breeding programmes that have mixed sanke and showa
varieties, some in between Koi are produced. The purists would saythese
indeterminate Koi should be culled but there is a market for unusual Koi and
breeders are businessmen.
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Koi are not my whole life but make my life whole