The most desirable configuration for Showa is where all pattern elements appear in similar proportions.
Defining features A non-metallic, black (sumi), red (beni or hi) and white Koi, where the black generally describes extensive, deeply wrapping patterns over the body, it also appears on the head (including the nose), and as solid pectoral fin joints (motoguro). The relative amounts of the three colours vary considerably between Koi. A Showa with very little black is called a Kindai or ‘modern’ Showa. A Hi Showa has very little white.
Origin A deliberate breeding experiment during the Japanese Showa era, hence the name. Showa are considered to have been bred from early Utsurimono (yellow/white and black) and Kohaku Koi.
Basic appreciation points
• Showa have red and white patterns like Kohaku (red and white only), so the same points apply to both elements, except for Hi Showa, where almost the entire body is red, with black patterns only.
• High-quality black looks glossy, blue-black and very dense. Although not all black patterns may be solid (providing an attractive reticulated effect), some of them must be, for excellence.
• Black patterns on Showa tend to be large, jagged and extend down the sides of the Koi, giving a very powerful impression. Black patterns bisecting the head provide even more impact.
• Edges of black patterns should be sharp, except where a leading edge is over white. Here, blurring (sashi of sumi) gives a desirable 3D effect.
• Although white on the nose and before the tail is ideal, either red or black appearing as a match in the same positioning is also acceptable for Showa.
• Same as Kohaku list.
• Genetic defects – for example a small, pointed head or deformed mouth – seem to be more common for Showa than many other varieties.
• Quality of black may be poor, look thin and dull or remain greyish and unfinished, a ‘carry over’ from Showa tetsu or Magoi ancestors.
• Although less likely for modern Showa, black pattern edges can scatter with untidy speckles, spreading over white and red patterns.
• Any extreme pattern imbalance will demerit even an excellent quality Showa. For example, if a Koi is black, red and white at the front end, but only red and white or black and white at the back. All pattern elements need to be represented along the entire length.