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The Japan Trips NIGATA 1999 - in Trevor's own words:

This is a Photograph of Trevor (Previous Owner) and was taken in the Niigata prefecture and shows the Mushigami area - famous for it's 'high Quality' Koi and its many top breeders ...

In the background you can see the Mountains that surround the Niigata area which is 30 minutes away from both Nagaoka City and Oyija City .... note the snow - in January 1999 this area had over 2.4 mtrs of snow ... thankfully it was clearing fast and all the roads were passable ... but it was still very cold ...

For many years Trevor had been promising himself that he would go out to Japan and visit some of the worlds finest Koi breeders ...

This section is in Trevor's own words ...

Like many things in life and as time rolled by I wondered if I would ever make the trip ... making excuses that 'Who would look after the stock of Koi back at our Unit if I were to go to Japan... and the usual 'I'm too busy' or 'I have not enough time' and 'It will be too expensive' and I don't really need to go to Japan - after all I can choose and do most of my buying from the Internet' ... The usual feeble excuses ...least of all I have to admit I am not keen on flying ...

This trip was a sudden rush of blood to my head... I had telephoned Peter Waddington with whom I have been friends with now for almost 10 years to discuss a matter with him .. and during the conversation he told me that he was going out to Japan again in just over a weeks time .. and then he suddenly said 'Why on earth don't you come with me' ... and that it would be a real eye opener for me and that I would learn more about Koi in just one week that I would learn over the next 3 years... Again I made the usual excuses 'I too busy' ... but we talked about it further ... and we left the conversation that I would telephone him at work the next day and he would give me the telephone number of his travel agent - just in case there may still be a seat on the same plane that Peter and Dennis were going out on ...

The following morning after the daily essential maintenance work was carried out - I telephoned Peter and he gave me the telephone number ... I rang the number San asked for a gentleman called Paul, who Peter had advised me to talk to, and explained that I was hoping that he may be able to get me out on the same flight to Narita Airport in Japan as Peter and Dennis ... Paul was very nice about it but advised me that he thought that there was little chance of doing so at this late stage but he would try ... So I left Paul my telephone number as he said he would ring me later in the day as soon as he had anything to tell me.

About 5 hours later Paul telephoned me to say that he could not get me on the same flight from Manchester to Heathrow as Peter as that was fully booked ...but he could get me on the same flight as Peter out to Japan. I told him that I would get back to him within the next hour to confirm that I wished to take up this seat ...

The reason I hesitated was primarily to have another serious think about it and also, and probably more important as far as my life was concerned, was the fact that I had not mentioned any of this about even thinking of going to Japan to my wife Glenis, let alone if I was to go it was going to happen next week ....

So trembling as one does when trying to get some permission or another from one's wife ... I began to tell her about the telephone conversation I had with Peter the previous evening and let the story continue from there .. To be on the safe side I did of course ask Glenis how she fancied a quick trip out to Japan... and as expected she was not impressed and I felt sure that she would rather have had me ask her if she would like a couple of weeks in the sun in Spain or somewhere warmer than that of the British weather ... Anyway, to get to the point she did not mind if I went (think she was looking forward to me being out from under her feet for a while) and no thank you she did not wish to come with me - which was just as well as there was only one seat on the ruddy plane anyway and I don't somehow think that she would have enjoyed the trip out to Japan in the luggage hold....

So, excited at the thoughts of it all, I telephoned Paul at the travel agents and told him to book the seat and we went through the formalities etc and the flight was booked and paid for ... Paul told me that I would receive the documentation through the post within the next few days... That evening I telephoned Peter to tell him that I was flying out with him on the same flight out of Charles de Gaulle airport to Japan ... He could not believe that Paul had actually managed it - but I think that we were both deep down really pleased that we would be travelling out there together ... and kept saying ....It will be great we will be able to have a fag in the smoking area on the plane as Dennis does not smoke at all ... and really the sole reason for travelling by Air France was the fact that that is the only airline that currently offers it's patrons a smoking area on the flight ... anyway ....

I told Glenis (her indoors) that the trip was booked and then she suddenly said 'I thought that your Passport wanted renewing' ... my heart jumped into my mouth as I rummaged through my desk drawers looking for my passport .. Sure enough it had expired some four year earlier ! I then telephoned the Passport Office in Liverpool and asked how I could best obtain a new Passport. It meant that I had to rush out to get hold of an application form - complete it - get it countersigned - and make arrangements to get across to Liverpool to get my new Passport. All this only days before the trip was scheduled for .. what a rush over to the Liverpool office and after 1 and a 1/2 hours in a long queue I proceeded to the desk indicated on the overhead screens to be told that my new passport would be posted off to me by first class post on the following day ... after being reassured that it would arrive in time I made my way back to the other side of the country - back home to prepare for my trip out to Japan with Peter...

True to the young lady at the Passport Office - my new passport arrived the following day by first class post ... the only thing that I was not really happy with was the fact that instead of receiving a new 'British' passport I received a new 'European' passport ... well let me state here and now that I am very proud to be British - probably more so to be a Yorkshireman ... and the thought of now being known as a European sent chills through my veins... no matter who is in power - they all have to meddle and make changes that have to fall in line with the beaurocrats in Brussels ...

Anyway rushing around preparing for the trip soon brought it round to the 1st April and my son-in-law, who had agreed to take me down to Heathrow Airport, arrived at my house at 06-30am and half an hour later we moved off having first checked to make sure that I had the tickets - my passport - and my wad of Japanese Yen .... for once in my life I was worth well over a million - in fact a multi-millionaire !

Following a telephone call from Peter advising me that his flight from Manchester had been cancelled and that he was now due to fly out from Heathrow .. we joined up there - did a spot of duty free shopping for some fags and a couple of bottles of scotch and then we made our way to the gate and proceeded to board the plane .... The time for it's due take-off came and went and still we sat there on the tarmac with no apparent explanation as to why we were being delayed ... eventually we did receive some garbled message from the Captain and we proceeded to the take-off run way and almost 3/4 of an hour late we took off heading for France where we were due to catch the connecting flight to Japan.

We were assured on the flight that all connecting flights would be waiting for us and that we should make our way as quickly as we could to the various gates ...

When we arrived at Charles de Gaulle airport we moved to the gate of our scheduled flight to Japan to be greeted by a young Japanese Steward and we produced our boarding cards to be told 'Too Late' and that we had to follow her somewhere ... well we followed her and were shown to a desk and although there were several girls behind the counter - no one seemed to bother with us but eventually we were seen and advised that Air France were to put us up in a nearby hotel for the night and that we were booked to fly out to Japan the following day ... a great start to an epic journey ... and we ended up stuck in this hotel which was close to nothing .... in fact 25 km away from Paris - so much to Peter's disappointment we could not even take in the Follies begere ...

The following day as scheduled we took off on the 747 heading for Japan .. and even then we were almost 3/4 hour late ... The flight out was as to be expected ... long and boring and with literally Hundreds of miles of the barren land and snow of Siberia below us I managed to catch a couple or so hours of sleep ... I woke up in time for Breakfast (if it could be called such) with Mongolia below ... Soon we were flying over the Sea of Japan and it was a change to see something else below us ...

We landed just 15 minutes late and both Dennis and myself followed the Maestro who clearly knew exactly where he was going dragging his bag on wheels behind him at an alarming rate ... it was hard to keep up with him - but we managed somehow as Peter picked up our railway tickets ... We traveled on to Tokyo's main railway station where we were then to take the 'Bullet Train' to Nagaoka City where we would be staying ... I was amazed at the time keeping accuracy of the Japanese Railways and the cleanliness and condition of the carriages, which Peter told me would be at least 15 year old - so one hour later we pulled into Nagaoka City and again followed Peter to the 'Grand Hotel' where our rooms were booked.... The Grand Hotel was not too far away and soon we had checked in and I noticed that Peter san ... received what seemed to be a royal greeting by the Japanese hotel staff and they exchanged greetings and up we went to our respective bedrooms .. The bedrooms were very clean - but oh dear very small and taking a look into the bathroom and the size of the bath I wondered how on earth much larger people than myself could ever fit into the bath...  I thought that I would try the bed to see how soft, or not, it was going to be - I sat down swung my legs up and through my head down on the pillow ! wow I wish I had not done that - the ruddy pillow was a sack of Japanese Rice and seemed as though it was as hard as a block of concrete ...

We met in the lobby 10 minutes later and then piled into the 'Bongo' truck and headed up the Mountains which clearly were covered in snow ... So here I was going to take my first look at the Breeding Grounds for the finest Koi in the world .. the roads leading to the mountains were good well laid roads - something like our 'A' roads in Gt. Britain ... and then we turned off the main road and took a narrow secondary road which began to wind its way up the side of the Mountain .. with fast flowing rivers rushing by us as we made our way up - and up ... Dennis, who was driving clearly knew where he was heading... 10 minutes later we pulled up outside the home of the first Japanese Breeder and parking between the large snow drifts we stepped out of the Bongo and I followed Peter and Dennis. There was no one around except an old lady and Peter said something to her and motioned that we wished to take a look inside the fish houses ... This was my first look at Hundreds upon Hundreds of one year old Koi of all varieties but Peter seemed to be in a hurry and we again boarded the Bongo and off we went again .. I never did find out who that breeder was .. but the next breeder was probably one of the most up and coming breeders for Sanke anywhere in Japan ... 'Shintaro' .. Peter was greeted by Shintaro and his family and we were welcomed into Shintaro's house - first observing the Japanese tradition of removing our shoes before we entered his home... Inside the room was a large table which was about 12" high and hanging from the top edge was what appeared to be a short duvet... We were invited to sit down and so following Peter I sat down on the floor crossed legged and Peter told me to stick my feet under the table ... knowing Peter as I do I thought oh yes and what is going to grab hold of me ! but in doing so I found to my pleasure that the whole area under the table was heated by a mat that was laid on the floor under the table - and that this had also warmed up the duvet itself ... so, although it was sunny outside it was bitter cold and the heat from under the table was indeed very welcome .. Shintaro's wife served us all with Tea and I was pleased that it was not so dissimilar to the Tea we drink back in England...  We sat and chatted using sign language more than anything else sipping at our tea .. then Shintaro motioned us to follow him - so we moved towards the front door to find that whilst we had been inside all our shoes had been turned round facing the right way and all neatly in a line ...
 

These photo's are of Shintaro's premises -
the one on the left is his own house with just one of his Fish Houses on the right.
 

 


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