History and members of JKX

It is now widely recognized that the mountainous area of Yamakoshi in Niigata is the birthplace of Nishikigoi.  What made it grow to become the amazing industry that it is today, is the dedication of the people to farm these fish and the unique conditions in this area that allow koi to be bred and grow.

With the highest concentration of koi breeders anywhere in the world it is not surprising that countless numbers of koi dealers and hobbyist’s visit this area every year.

Once you have arrived here you need to be able to work with people who can supply you with koi and offer you a shipping service to your destination wherever that may be in the world, and JKX can do exactly that for you.

Martin Symonds

Martin has been visiting this area of Japan and buying koi since 1981.  Over the last 35 years he has shipped thousands of boxes of koi to most parts of the world and hundreds of customers have visited Japan with him over these years.  He has written and still is writing numerous articles for all the leading Koi magazines in the world.

In 1990’s his company was the largest importer of Japanese koi to the UK.  Apart from this he has over the last 35 years owned and ran fish farms and koi businesses in Europe, Israel, Hong Kong and America.

Towards the end of 1999 he made the decision to move and live in the area of Ojiya, Niigata so he could work closely with the breeders and learn the way the Japanese Breeders ran their businesses.  In the year 2000 he started the Koi Masterclass with other leading koi dealers and koi magazines of the time. The aim was to give hobbyists a chance to learn about koi appreciation from the top breeders and also give a closer look at Japanese culture as well.  Now Koi Masterclass will be celebrating its 17th year in 2017.

Over these years many of the breeders and their sons have visited him in the UK. UK Koi Masterclasses have been held in the year 2001 and has recently in 2016. During these years breeder’s sons from Marujyu Tanaka (Shigeyoshi Tanaka) and Yamasan Koi Farm (Manabu Yamasaki) have spent 1 year working and learning English at his farm in the UK.

Martin’s first home in Ojiya was actually in the mountains and village of Mushigame until later moving back into Ojiya.  He has judged at the All Japan Koi Show and run English lessons and KHV seminars for the breeders in Ojiya itself.

Unfortunately he was present in his apartment on the 23rd October 2004 when the earthquake devastated the area. The JKX house and office was destroyed.  During the weeks that followed, he helped to supply food and fuel to breeders in the area and was involved in the helicopter rescue of koi from breeders ponds that were left stranded in the mountains.  And within 3 weeks after the earthquake he managed to get customers into the area to buy koi to support the breeders at this time.

This long-term association has lead to a very close business relationship and friendship with the breeders and people in this area. This close association continues today which allows people visiting Martin at JKX to benefit from his close ties.

René Villela

René is the other important member of JKX. Originally from El Salvador in Central America he has lived in Japan for over 25 years.

He was for many years the General Manager at the wholesale company FA Miyaishi, which is the dry goods company of Miyaishi Koi Farm and supplies goods to koi breeders in Niigata and throughout Japan.

René was an obvious choice for Martin to work with him at JKX and now for the past 16 years. René lives in Ojiya 365 days of the year and with Martin works with breeders on a daily basis in the mountains. He speaks Japanese, English and Spanish.

After all these years Rene’s close working ties with the breeders will benefit customers when coming with JKX.

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