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Part 2:  Discovering the Heart of Niigata: Day Three with Chris

Part 2: Discovering the Heart of Niigata: Day Three with Chris

Hosokai: A Discovery of Giants
Just got back to the hotel, and my mind's still racing from today's encounters. Our first stop was Hosokai, and honestly, I haven't felt this exhilarated since I first discovered koi. Spotting a Goromo among the jumbo tosai was a moment of pure joy—like finding a rare gem in a sea of treasures. This wasn't just any fish; it was a masterpiece, boasting patterns and colors that artists could only dream of. I couldn't help but exclaim, "Wow, look at this beauty!" as if the fish could hear my admiration.

The Trek to Kase
Next, we made our way to Kase, a trip taking about 35 minutes, but every second was worth it. The anticipation of what we'd find there was palpable. With only a chance to snap a couple of photos upon arrival, the visit was brief but impactful. The ponds were filled with Shiro Utsuri, a variety I've admired for years. However, considering our current inventory, I decided to hold off on acquisitions from Kase this time around. The beauty and quality of the fish were undeniable, a testament to the skill and dedication of the breeders here.

Deep Connections at Hosokai
The visit to Hosokai wasn't just about the fish; it was about the people. Greeted first by a cheerful dog, I felt an immediate sense of welcome. It's fascinating how a simple gesture towards an animal can create a bond between humans. Sharing a laugh over the dog's enthusiastic greeting, I realised these moments of connection are what make this journey so special.

Wildlife encounter
Between visits, the landscape offered its own adventures, including a stop at roadside mud ponds. The sight of tracks likely made by bears around the ponds was a stark reminder of the wild beauty of Niigata. This unexpected detour added a thrilling edge to our day, emphasising the adventurous spirit of this journey.

Jersey swap
Visiting Ikarashi Ozumi brought its own set of surprises. The exchange of T-shirts wasn't just about giving a gift; it was like trading jerseys with your favourite sports heroes, but in the koi world. The conversations might be short, but the mutual respect is as deep as the ponds we admire.

Culinary laughs
The food experiences here have been just as enriching as the koi discoveries.  – from battling with chopsticks at breakfast to mystery microwave lunches and the fiery surprise of Japanese mustard, each meal has been an adventure in itself, adding flavour to our journey in every sense.

Reflecting on the Day
As the day comes to a close, I find myself reflecting on the beauty of the koi, the warmth of the people I've met, and the small, unexpected moments that have made this journey unforgettable. From the thrill of discovering a stunning Goromo to sharing laughs over culinary experiments, today was a reminder of why I embarked on this adventure. Each breeder's story, each fish's journey, adds to the rich tapestry of the koi world, and I'm grateful to be a part of it. Tomorrow promises more discoveries, more connections, and undoubtedly more moments that will leave me in awe. This isn't just a journey; it's a voyage into the heart of what it means to be a part of the global koi community.
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