Welcome to carp heaven!
No other place in Japan can you find a garden more replete than Nishikigoi no Sato. Though relatively small, the park maximizes the use of space through minimalism. You have waterfalls, bridges, bubbling brooks, pagodas, and lastly, big beautiful carp, each prized and beloved for its own unique beautiful patterns.
Why travel this far up to see a bunch of fish in a garden? In Japan, there are over 827 prized gardens, each with its own uniqueness, and international appeal. There are a variety of garden / parks in Japan. I say garden/park because here in Japan gardens allow you to walk, hike, and picnic in gardens, which is what a park allows. A standing garden is typically a place where you look at, grow, and cultivate flora, shrubs, flowers, and is not often open to the public. In Japan, many gardens allow you to sit amongst the trees and flowers while enjoying a tea with snacks all while admiring the beauty of the garden - the best of both worlds.
("There are a variety of garden types in Japan. You have tea gardens, rock gardens, pond gardens, shrine gardens, pure land gardens( Buddhist), dry gardens, strolling gardens, and lastly, carp gardens.")
Here at Nishikigoi you can learn about the entire history of Japanese Koi in under 40 minutes. After paying admissions ( 700 yen entry + 200 for fish food) the person behind the counter will hand you a brochure in either Japanese or English. You then walk into the main hall and there you will see a large screen T.V. where you sit down to watch a 25-minute video on carp breeding. Fascinating to watch. I highly recommend it.
|Entrance leading to the indoor aquarium|
Carp are resilient, aggressive, and strong freshwater fish. They can survive in the most polluted rivers and demanding ecosystems throughout the world. In the U.S.A., where I am from, we Americans regard the carp as the Queen of the River and a favorite amongst fish anglers in North America, just for the pure joy of fishing. Although carp is the most widely consumed fish in the world, it is not so in America....How ironic. We fish it, but we don't love to eat it. It is also the most abused fish in sport fishing.
The spotted carp which are prized all over the world is actually caused by a natural mutation. Real carp is not as beautiful as its spotted cousin, but rather ordinary looking. First discovered in China, carp was fished as a food source because of its hardy nature. In the above picture where the man is holding a spotted carp, the size and weight of this fish can grow up to 50 kilograms! Prized carp is only handled by hand, not netting. All carp are picked up and moved by human hands and rarely fight when being handled in this way. Thousands of carp are handled by hand yearly when being moved between ponds for selection and breeding.
This museum is an excellent place for family, friends, couples, and photographers. The indoor aquarium is a breeding area. Carp are kept here for a few more months until they reach the desired size of the breeder. As for the names of these fish, there are over 16 different kinds of carp. Click here for more information.
The outdoor garden
Just walking around the garden is relaxing, especially on a cool day where you can pick up on a lot of minus ions from the waterfall. Enjoying the carp while feeding them is a real treat.
|Ice cream cone was used to carry fish food|
|Waste nothing. Even the carp understands this...lolol..? j/k|
There are a variety of subjects you can shoot in this garden and, depending on the time of day you can get some really good compositions.
Reaching the museum, you will need to take a shinkansen from Tokyo to either Nagaoka Station or Echigo Yuzawa Station. Then change to the local line. Once at Echigo Yuzawa you can refresh in a nice hot spa to relax. From Echigo Yuzawa Station it's a 59-minute train ride to Ojiya. The only saving grace at Ojiya is the Lawson convenience store across the street from the station. Essentially, there is nothing in this part of Niigata.
After you reach Ojiya, you need to hail a taxi and ask them to take you to Nishikigoi no Sato. I do not know how much it costs to get there. I am always driven and shown around by a local. Buses are infrequent. One bus an hour. Across from the museum is a ramen shop for lunch if you get hungry. The footpath in this garden is only for strolling and feeding the carp. You could have a tea on the bench.
I left out a bunch of other pictures of this place, so if you are interested in seeing bred carp that are worth up to $50,000 U.S. Come have a look. I think the lowest price you would pay is something like $350.00. You can also breed spotted carp to be a lot smaller than the standard 35kg...?
Every year, this museum attracts breeders from all over the world. The next event will be held on October 29th and October 30th 2016! It will be the biggest event of the year for nishikigoi, the birthplace of prized carp.