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Koi: Ginrin

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In 1929, Japanese koi enthusiast Eizaburo Hoshino first discovered individual sparkling scales on koi he had bred and coined the style Gingoke. These mutant scales were later termed Dia, but today the accepted word outside Japan is Kin-Gin-Rin, often shortened to Ginrin.

Ginrin scales are quite different from those on metallic koi. Instead of an overall gleam caused by the reflective pigment guanine, Ginrin scales have a reflective sheen over all or part of their surface creating a glimmering effect not unlike cut diamonds. The color they appear is determined by the pigment they overlay - silver (Gin) in the case of sumi or white, and golden (Kin) over hi.

Sub varieties of Ginrin...

Ginrin can be divided technically into four sub varieties. In Beta-Gin the whole surface of the scale is reflective, while Kado-Gin describes scales where only the leading edge carries this pigment. The latest type to appear - Diamond, or Hiroshima, Ginrin - originated in 1969 on the Konishi koi farm in southern Japan. Here, the reflective element radiates out from the insertion point of the scales in a fan shape. The Japanese like this type of ginrin least of all, as it makes the koi appear flashy and unrefined and can blur the edges of hi and sumi patterns. Additionally, the leading edge of these scales is often ragged, coming to a series of small points, rather than being pleasantly rounded.

Where the sparkling effect is heavy, the surface of the scales becomes slightly raised; this is Pearl Ginrin, also known as Tsubu- or Tama-Gin. More than one type of Ginrin scale can appear on the same fish. Beta-Gin is usually found on the abdomen, along the lateral line or in individual rows toward the dorsal surface. Diamond and Kado-Gin tend to cover the back of the koi. Most hobbyists today do not differentiate between the types of Ginrin, but accept them as enhancing already beautiful koi.

Metallic Ginrin

Even metallic fish are now being bred with this scalation and a good Ginrin Ogon is an unforgettable sight. To qualify as Ginrin, a koi should have more of these scales than it is possible to count as it swims past the observer - about 20 is the accepted minimum. Individual Ginrin scales on otherwise matt-scaled koi can look very attractive and do not detract from their value.

In the West, only Ginrin Go Sanke are benched Kin-Gin-Rin, although many other koi varieties have this type of scalation. In Japan, Kin-Gin-Rin "A" includes Go Sanke, while Kin-Gin-Rin "B" covers the rest.

A shimmering coat of reflective scales can lead the novice to fall for koi of otherwise limited attributes. Show judges in the Kin-Gin-Rin class, looking at a Ginrin Kohaku, will first ask themselves "Is this a good Kohaku in its own right?" Only if they are satisfied that it is will they mark it highly.

Telling the Difference...

A deeper look at the scales on metallic, ginrin and koi with both combined, can clear up confusion between the different styles.

metallic ginrin
Metallic Ginrin

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Doitsu (German-scaled fish) typically describes koi with no scales other than enlarged scales along the lateral line and two lines running on either side of the dorsal fin. In Japan, the Doitsu classification applies only to Go Sanke, while in Western shows there is no separate category for any German-scaled fish, with the exception of Shusui. However, the growing popularity of these virtually naked-skinned koi suggests that some revision may be necessary, so that Doitsu scalation can be recognized for what it is; an intriguing and challenging variation on the endless theme of Nishikigoi.

There are a few Doitsu koi with their own names, such as Shusui and Kumonryu. Any other koi that would fit into a separate classification yet dons Doitsu scalage would have an extra prefix or suffix of "Doitsu" such as Doitsu Kohaku or Hariwake Doitsu. Whether you place Doitsu before or after the main classification of the koi is of no real consequence either way.

Keep in mind that Doitsu are not necessarily scaleless koi except for a few larger scales along the spine and lateral line. There are Doitsu specimens with the thick German scales all along their body length and width, which gives them the appearance of wearing a suit of armor. While these rare Doitsu are not valued very highly at koi shows, they make for a very interesting and unique koi, perfect for a treasure-hunting hobbyist. On the flip side of this, Doitsu don't always have scales along their sides and sometimes do not even have scales by their shoulders. However, Doitsu always have German scales on either side of their dorsal fin whether or not the scales can be found elsewhere on their body.

All patterned Doitsu koi should have clearly defined markings. Without scales to diffuse the light, colors appear bright and sharp. A good Doitsu should seem like it's lit from within.

The koi-buying public is becoming more and more attuned to this style of koi. Their sales are increasing year after year and when you consider that any koi, except for Ginrin, can be produced in a Doitsu version, that is hardly surprising.

doitsu scales
doitsu scales
doitsu scales
Doitsu scales
at the shoulder
Doitsu without
shoulder scales
Armored Doitsu







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