Tategoi - the abuse!
The much abused word in the Koi world...
Sigh. We've heard it all before.
"I bought a 'Japanese' Koi from so and so for such and such a price and it's
Heck. It's even happened to us!
Let's get a few things straightened out here before we carry on any further.
Our definitions of a Japanese Koi is a Koi bought in Japan from a Japanese breeder. This Koi is typically hand selected from hundreds of others and represents a price premium purely for this fact alone.
This is NOT a Koi bred from Japanese parents. The two are NOT the same thing - in pretty much the same way that you can't really jump into eating a chalk sandwich or writing with cheese on a black board.
Why is this the case? Well, Koi simply do not breed true. If that were the case the Japanese would have been out of business long ago! So a quick way to make a small fortune from a large one is to hop over to Japan, buy a few sets of parent Koi and breed them to compete with the Japanese in their own markets.
Put as plainly as we can put it, they'll eat you alive in this business! The path of Koi keeping is littered with corpses of those who have tried to take on the Japanese in the ancient art of Koi breeding and who have failed. There are of course a few exceptions but we can count these on ten fingers and if we measure in terms of financial success we get down to less than the fingers on one hand!
That's the harsh reality.
And so we get to Tategoi - and the abuse of the word. Tategoi refers to a Koi with future potential. Of course, ALL Koi have future potential - if you want to be pedantic. However, Tategoi refers to Koi that have superlative potential - potential that is yet to be unlocked in many cases. And this potential refers to potent show winning potential - Grand Champion or Supreme Champion stuff.
Tategoi for us anyway, are never Koi that are under the age of two years. There is no way to tell (at least we can't - perhaps a very experience Japanese breeder might be able to hazard an educated guess) because the Koi will not have developed enough to be able to give you an idea about what it might end up as.
Now, on these pages you will find us discussing potential in 'Dark Horse' Tosai that we have auctioned. You will not find the word Tategoi used however - and we use these Koi as the basis of what to look for in young Koi - a difficult exercise in its own right. Rest assured that is we ever auction a genuine Tategoi we will dissect its merits on an equal basis!
Tategoi, when we use the word, will generally refer to an expensive Koi that is at least two years of age, generally older, and which will represent a significant potential at becoming a show winner.
Naturally such Koi are few and far between. Japanese breeders breed Koi to earn a living. Their livelihood relies on the fact that out of every 10 million Koi they breed there are one or two that are going to have the potential to win at Koi shows and which will have immense value as a result.
Do you really think that they are going to sell you this Koi when it is only two years old and forego the potential income they could make on the Koi when it is four or five years old and worth several million yen? It isn't going to happen folks!
But of course, if you are prepared to plonk down the cash for the potential of the Koi in three or four years time they will sell you the fish without blinking. You will be paying the price, or very close to it, right now and upfront for what the Koi would be worth IF the full potential is developed in that time frame. This is a Tategoi - a Koi with the potential being bought ahead of its time. This is why Tategoi are NEVER cheap and why the word is so horribly abused when selling Koi!
The easiest way to sell a Koi is to label it Tategoi, slap on a hefty price tag and leave the hobbyist to it. If the Koi doesn't develop in the next three or four or five or six or twenty years it MUST have been something the hobbyist did or didn't do! So sorry, but here, we have a lovely new Tategoi at a good price so please try again!
It is a brilliant way to separate fools from their money isn't it? But for the hobbyist who knows what he or she is doing the picture is very different. Such hobbyists know what they are looking for and as such they are less easily taken in by the hype and the hard sell...
At the end of the day what we are saying is 'Caveat Emptor'. Tategoi is an abused word and we would treat those using it liberally with caution!