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Koi: Hikarimoyo

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While Ogon, Kin and Gin Matsuba fall into the Hikarimono classification, any metallic koi that shows two or more colors is classified as Hikarimoyo. Many Hikarimoyo breeds have been developed from crosses between different Hikarimono koi.

Hikarimoyo are truly breath-taking koi. The metallic skin and scales matched with strong patterning and color combinations make for a strong impression. Even low-grade examples can look stunning when young, but as they grow any defects become more apparent. Chief among these are dark lines running from the eyes down to the nose - a throwback to the Gin and Kin Kabuto forerunners of the Ogon - and discoloration on what should be a clear head.

Hikarimoyo are subdivided into a number of breeds. Hariwake are two-colored koi with a platinum base color overlaid with yellow, and are available in fully scaled or Doitsu form. Hariwake Matsuba have the same coloration but the scales have Matsuba reticulation.


The aristocrat of Hikarimoyo is the metallic HikarimoyoSanke known as Yamatonishiki. This variety came on to the market in the 1960s from two distinct sources, the first breeder being Seikichi Hoshino, who took 15 years to develop it. The complex process involved an initial cross between an Asagi and a Kin Kabuto and subsequent introductions of Sakura Ogon blood. A similar fish - Koshi-nishiki - was bred in Yamakoshi by crossing a Yamabuki Doitsu with a Gin Showa. Both are now grouped together as Yamatonishiki.

Metallic skin in Hikarimoyo koi can dull the underlying colors because the light is diffused through them. This results in sumi appearing dark gray rather than black, and red becoming more orange. However, in Yamatonishiki this is compensated for by the platinum skin and finnage, which may or may not carry Sanke-style sumi stripes. The head of this variety is preferably adorned with hi markings in the manner of a normal Sanke.


Kujaku, or Kujaku Ogon as they are still sometimes known, are highly regarded by the Japanese, as the patterning on a good specimen can rival that of Go Sanke. Like Goshiki, they are said to be five-colored koi, but this sometimes stretches credulity - not all modern examples display white, black, red, brown and yellow markings. The first ones were bred in Ojiya in 1960 by Toshio Hirasawa from a female Shusui and a male Kin Matsuba and Hariwake. (Koi are normally spawned in trios, with one female and two males. It is therefore impossible to establish the exact parentage of the first Kujaku.) The result was a metallic platinum fish with black Matsuba scalation overlaying a hi pattern, a clear red head, and some blue derived from the original female parent koi. Many of these first Kujaku (the word literally means "peacock") were Doitsu, again the result of the Shusui influence.

Hikarimoyo Hikarimoyo

Doitsu Kujaku are sometimes mistaken for Ginsui and Kinsui. However, in the German-scaled Kujaku, the hi overlaid with black forms a distinct pattern along the dorsal surface and lateral lines, while in Ginsui, if much hi appears at all, it is in typical Shusui configuration - on the cheeks and flanks - and the platinum skin tends to have a bluish tint. Judging standards for modern Kujaku have become quite flexible. For instance, "interesting" head patterning (provided there is no black intruding) is just as acceptable as plain red or platinum. A sub variety, the Beni Kujaku, is predominantly red.

Sakura Ogon

Kohaku of the Hikarimoyo are known either as Platinum Kohaku or Sakura Ogon, sakura meaning Hikarimoyo"cherry blossom" in Japanese. The distinction between them used to be drawn on the basis that in the latter, the hi patterning resembled that of a Kanoko Kohaku (namely dappled), while Platinum Kohaku displayed more traditional hi. A more accurate assessment would be that Sakura Ogon show a more flowery pattern - small (but cohesive and stable) patches of red scales. In both varieties, the hi overlaying platinum skin is actually more of an orange color.

The Doitsu version of the Sakura Ogon is known as a Kikusui ("water chrysanthemum"), a platinum fish with orange overlay running in wavy lines on either side of the dorsal fin or else placed in traditional Kohaku manner. Orenji Hariwake Doitsu is an old-fashioned term for this koi, but describes exactly what it is.

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Hariwake are derived from Ogon or Ogon Matsuba lineage and display two metallic colors - a platinum base overlaid with either yellow-gold (Yamabuki) or orange (Orenji) markings. These immensely bright and showy koi, much loved be beginners, are relatively easy to produce. The Doitsu versions are particularly popular. A Doitsu HikarimoyoOrenji Hariwake is properly known as a Kikusui.

Ideally, fully scaled Yamabuki and Orenji Hariwake should have clear platinum heads, although if the second color intrudes it is not a disaster. The nicest examples show a lot of metallic white on the body, but others have only small areas of this platinum skin. As in Hikarimono, the scales should convey a three-dimentional impression.

Doitsu Hariwake often fall down on the positioning of the mirror scales, which as in all other Doitsu koi, should be bilaterally symmetrical and evenly spaced. Many examples show coarse scalation all over the caudal peduncle, while in others, the scales are overly large, with an armored appearance. Look beyond the overt appeal of these fish to be sure of acquiring a good specimen.

Fully scaled Hariwake Matsuba are virtually indistinguishable from Kujaku. The dark pinecone insertion point to each scale is toned down because of the metallic overlay. Hariwake Matsuba Doitsu are another matter, because the dark scales are only those along the back and flanks. No other sumi appears on the platinum/yellow body. These fish give a very clear-cut impression.

The Hariwake Tora Ogon is a Yamabuki Hariwake with Bekko sumi, a straight cross between these varieties. The plain Tora Ogon is a Shiro Bekko and Yamabuki Ogon cross and not, as has been suggested, a metallic Ki Bekko.


New koi varieties are being developed all the time, and a recent recruit to Hikarimoyo is the Kikokuryu. Always Doitsu, and metallic, these fish display a head pattern not unlike that of a ghost koi or the helmet of those proto-Ogons, Kin Kabuto. The pattern distribution on some examples is reminiscent of Kumonryu, although these fish can be almost any color. To set off the rather plain body, good metallic luster on the finnage is an asset.


Here's an example of how certain koi can change in color and pattern as the years bear on. The photo on the left is a picture of a Blackwater Kikokuryu in 2005. On the right is the same exact koi, 2 years later.

Other Hikarimoyo...

Another new variety yet to establish itself is the Heisei Nishiki, bred by Hiroi of Iwamagi. Heisei is the era of the Emperor Akahito, following on from the Showa era. The fish resembles a Yamatonishiki, except that the sumi markings are more Showa than Sanke type. However, it is not a full Kin Showa; otherwise the fish would have to be benched Hikariutsuri.

A Shochikubai is a metallic Ai Goromo, a variety not often seen. The higher the metallic luster, the more likely the reticulated hi is to appear brown, but this only lends a dignified appearance to this rare fish.

Gin Bekko (not to be confused with Gin-Rin Bekko) is simply a cross between a Shiro Bekko and a Platinum Ogon. The sumi markings tend to be subdued by the bright skin. Kin Showa are benched in another class, namely Hikariutsuri.







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