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Experience the world of Nishikigoi in Isawa Onsen! “Rios Fish Park” on the riverside of the Fuefuki River

2020.01.23

Have you ever heard of Nishikigoi before?

Nishikigoi are ornamental koi fish (carp) which you often see swimming in ponds at Japanese gardens. They’re a type of koi fish that originated in Japan by the unique crossbreeding and they’re acknowledged as “swimming artwork”.

It is said the name “Nishikigoi” comes from koi’s vibrant coloration of white, red and black resembling “Nishiki (brocade) made with silk”. In recent years there has been a rapid growth in the number of Nishikigoi lovers around the world, who are after Nishikigoi with beautiful colors that swim so elegantly.

In such a world of Nishikigoi, Toshio Sakai, who has won many championships in Japan, is known to be one of the world’s best koi fish breeders. He runs Rios Fish Park in Isawa Onsen area in Fuefuki City, Yamanashi Prefecture, where they have fishing ponds and you can experience Nishikigoi fishing.

“Really? Are there Nishikigoi in Isawa Onsen?”

“I’ve never heard of fishing ponds for Nishikigoi…”

“What kind of koi fish is Nishikigoi anyway?”

For all of you sitting there and wondering like this, we went to Rios Fish Park for an Interview and in this article we’re going to tell you what we found out about Nishikigoi and Rios Fish Park.

Explore the charms of Nishikigoi at “Rios Fish Park”, the biggest fishing pond facility for Nishikigoi in Japan!

 

 What is Rios Fish Park, a fishing pond facility for Nishikigoi?

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Photo) Inside the facility. The big palm tree in the center welcomes visitors.

The big glass building on the riverside of the Fuefuki River, which runs north-south through Isawa Onsen Hot Spring Resort, is Rios Fish Park, a fishing pond facility for Nishikigoi that we’re going to introduce in this article.

At this facility, there are approximately 6000 Nishikigoi swimming in various different sized ponds. The size of their Nishikigoi varies ranging from small fry to about 80cm long ones. This is one of the largest Nishikigoi fishing facilities in Japan as for both the amount and the size of the Nishikigoi they have!

The person who breeds all those Nishikigoi you can come in contact with at Rios Fish Park is Toshio Sakai, CEO of Isawa Nishikigoi Center, who has won the championship at All Japan Nishikigoi Show four times.

“We don’t do any promotion for Rios Fish Park. Therefore, all our customers come here by word of mouth. This is a fishing pond facility that’s supported by connections  between people”, says Mr. Sakai with a smile.

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He also tells us about the recent years’ growing attention from overseas.

“There has been an increase in the number of Nishikigoi lovers overseas as well as inbound tourists to Isawa Onsen, and 85% of the customers who come to Isawa Nishikigoi Center (Headquarters where they breed and wholesale Nishikigoi) are from overseas. I’d like to try a few things to improve Rios Fish Park like setting up a display panel that explains varieties of Nishikigoi or playing music to make it a comfortable place and so on.”

As he speaks, you feel his passion in his gentle tone that he wants to disseminate the greatness of Nishikigoi more not only in the local area but also beyond and outside the country.

Rios Fish Park has a reception desk in the center, which separates the space into two areas; the fishing ponds area and the direct sales area.

The Nishikigoi Fishing Ponds Area

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Fees for “Main ponds” : 1,000yen/1 hour (including bait & a rental rod)  150yen/10 minutes for extension

On both sides of the central passage, they have two big “main ponds”, in which Nishikigoi for fishing are swimming.

“Many of our customers on weekdays are local regulars, and on weekends and holidays we also have families with small kids. When it gets busy, our regulars are kind enough to take care of other customers.” The manager, Mr. Matsuzumi tells us how community-based this fish park is.

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Photo) Mr. Matsuzumi, the manager of Rios Fish Park

“Mr. Sakai comes here when he has spare time from the breeding work, and he sometimes releases a huge Nishikigoi in a fishing pond on the spur of the moment. It’s really exciting to watch.”

There are sometimes Nishikigoi that are over 80cm long in their ponds. You don’t know how big your catch is until the very moment you pull it out of the water… You can’t get enough of this excitement!

Furthermore, what their regulars also enjoy is their “point system”.

When you catch a small Nishikigoi you get 1 point and you get 5 points for a big one. Once your point balance reaches 200, you get an hour of free fishing at the facility.

They also have prizes according to different levels, so we highly recommend it for everyone to come have a try!

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Fees for “Mini Ponds” : 500yen/30 minutes (including bait and a rental rod)  160yen/10 minutes for extension (including taxes)

There are also “mini fishing ponds” and “goldfish scooping” by the main ponds so that small children and the elderly can also enjoy the activities there.

This is a leisure spot like on other where every generation can get together and enjoy the experience of Nishikigoi fishing.

Nishikigoi Sales Area

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Nishikigoi in various different sizes carefully selected by Mr. Sakai swim lively in the aerated water. So how exactly do you purchase Nishikigoi?

“Customers who are interested look in the pond and carefully observe Nishikigoi’s skin conditions and patterns before deciding which one(s) they want themselves. We can of course give advice as well.”

They help you out and give you advice and tips if needed.

If you’re interested in having Nishikigoi but don’t have much knowledge of them, we recommend visiting Rios Fish Park.

 

Why are there Nishikigoi in Isawa Onsen?

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“Isawa Onsen Hot Spring Resort” is the largest hot spring spot in Yamanashi Prefecture. The first hot spring in the area was discovered in a vineyard in 1961, which was established into the hot spring resort.

Why did Mr. Sakai move from Niigata Prefecture, which is renowned for Nishikigoi, to Isawa Onsen and start Nishikigoi breeding here? He tells us the secret lies in moss and water.

“Firstly, Yamanashi Prefecture is surrounded by mountains made of granite and the water that flows from the mountains is weak alkaline, which is excellent. When koi fish eat moss grown with this water, they turn red.”

Moreover, Nishikigoi is a cold-blooded animal so temperature affects their metabolism.

“Since this is a hot spring area, the underground water is warm and suitable for Nishikigoi’s growth. Thanks to this water, koi fish that are small fries in winter grow to an unbelievable size by spring.”

In his many years of research carefully calculating the effect of Isawa Onsen’s ground and nature’s cycles, Mr. Sakai has established the environment to breed Japan’s best Nishikigoi.

 

Varieties of Nishikigoi you see at Rios Fish Park and their characteristics

Nishikigoi Mr. Sakai breeds is called “Matsunosuke”.

This is so called a “brand” of Nishikigoi that Mr. Sakai created in his own way and it’ like Toyota or Ferrari in the world of automobiles.

Nishikigoi that swim at Rios Fish Park are of course Matsunosuke.

There are a few different varieties in Matsunosuke as well.

(The following descriptions are cited from Isawa Nishikigoi Center’s website)

 Taisho Sanshoku

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It’s not too much to say that Matsunosuke Sanshoku is an icon of Matsunosuke brand.

The charm of Matsunosuke Sanshoku is their extraordinary lustrous skin compared to other bloodlines.

Enjoy the charms of Matsunosuke Sanshoku that is representative of Taisho Sanshoku.

Kohaku

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Kohaku is the most popular variety of Nishikigoi, which has a white body with red markings.

Kohaku of Matsunosuke bloodline have exceptional beauty.

Showa Sanshoku

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Showa Sanshoku has a well-balanced coloration of red, white and black.

Showa Sanshoku of Matsunosuke bloodline have smooth-textured skin and beautiful brilliant colors.

At Rios Fish Park, anyone can enjoy and come in contact with each of those varieties.

 

What the customers say about Rios Fish Park

Since Rios Fish Park is located in the resort area of Isawa Onsen, they often have tourists visiting the area or people staying at local ryokans (Japanese inns) stop by.

“For example, we had a group of people, who were visiting Isawa Onsen, come here for a social gathering and have a fishing competition. We don’t do any promotion so everyone gets surprised when they come and see inside. They say things like ‘I’ve never seen anything like this!’ and I feel delighted when I see customers happy like that.”

Mr. Sakai repeats it’s not business if we can’t make customers happy.

He hopes not only to breed Japan’s top-class Nishikigoi but also to welcome many more customers while valuing the relationships with other businesses such as ryokans and other facilities working together in the local tourist resort.

Since it’s an indoor facility, you can enjoy Nishikigoi all year around here regardless of weather conditions, which is another strength of Rios Fish Park. Why not come and enjoy the world of “Swimming artwork – Nishikigoi” you’ve never experienced before?

Rios Fish Park’s Information

Name of Facility: Rios Fish Park  (https://www.riosfishpark.com/)

Opening hours: Weekdays 10:00 -18:00  /  Weekends & Public Holidays 9:00 – 19:00

Closed: Tuesdays & Wednesdays

Phone: 055‐262‐1790

Address: 840 Ichibe, Isawa, Fuefuki City, Yamanashi Prefecture (About 8 minute drive from Kagetsu – the Stone Monument Inn)

We can drive you to the facility if you wish so please do not hesitate to let us know.

 

Recommended accommodation package at ryokan with Nishikigoi “Kagetsu – the Stone Monument Inn”,

 Kagetsu’s recommended standard package  – Including experience of feeding Nishikigoi from your room♪

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Feeding Nishikigoi is our most popular activity in our inn and this package offers you an opportunity to feed them from your room where you’re staying.

With this package, you’ll stay in a room on the first floor that faces the pond where Nishikigoi swim.

Enjoy this unique experience at our inn with our “swimming artwork” Nishikigoi.

【Package Perks】

(1)Nishikigoi’s food : 1 bag/person (We’ll prepare the food according to the number of people included in this package)

(2)A room on the first floor that faces the pond : You can feed Nishikigoi directly from the room by the window

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Why not enjoy watching Nishikigoi swim and experience feeding them in the relaxing atmosphere?

Here is what our customers say about this package;

“It’s great that you can feed Nishikigoi feeling relaxed in the private space”

“These Nishikigoi react so well that I got absorbed in feeding them multiple bags of food”

“It’s cute that they come close to you when you throw food in the pond even if you can’t see any of them near you at first”

 

Conclusion

In this article, we introduced Rios Fish Park where you can experience fishing Nishikigoi in Fuefuki City, Yamanashi Prefecture.

This is a place for everyone from small children to adults, where you can enjoy the activities with the whole family.

Also, when you visit our inn, we hope you enjoy watching Nishikigoi, which Mr. Sakai bred with all his skills and passion, swim peacefully through our garden.

In the next article, we’ll focus more on “Nishikigoi” and talk about varieties, how to care for them, Mr. Sakai’s Nishikigoi that won the championship at the Nishikigoi Show and so on. We’re going to explore the charms of Nishikigoi even more.

Don’t miss it!

Experience the world of Nishikigoi in Isawa Onsen! “Rios Fish Park” on the riverside of the Fuefuki River

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