When he graduated from Sparsholt in 1985 Mark managed to secure a letter of introduction to Mr Kamihata (Kamihata Fish Industries) who agreed to let him spend six months working on his koi farm in Yamazaki. Mark sold his MG Midget, which was his pride and joy, and set off to Japan where he lived and worked, with the rest of the farm hands, on the farm. Very few people spoke any English which meant Mark had to learn some Japanese!
His bed was a futon, with no pillow, in the fish food store room, and dinner was a bowl of rice with a raw egg cracked over it. He had no preconceptions about koi, never having kept them as a hobby, but his education at Yamazaki was all encompassing.
|Mark with Mr Kamihata||Mark preparing for spawning at Yamazaki|
Much of his time was spent on the most unpleasant jobs on the farm usually involving pond management. It may have been mind numbing, back breaking work but the result of this is that he really knows how to keep a good mud pond! Mark was allowed to take part in every aspect of running a koi farm. He sat for weeks with the farm manager, Tanaka, carrying out selection, constantly asking questions and checking that his selection technique was correct.
Mark learned koi appreciation from an expert farm manager, Nushimura, and also from Mr Kamihata himself . He asked lots of questions and made copious notes. He even worked in the auction house too. Mark learned koi farming Japanese style from the bottom up and the techniques he learned are as relevant today as they were then.
|Photo right – from left to right:
Himeji high grade breeder (name not known), Tanaka San (General Manager for all Mr Kamihata’s farms) – known to the other employees as “the culling machine”!, Nushimura (Yamazaki Farm Manager) and Kesuge Yamaguchi, Mark’s colleague and best mate at Yamazaki.
|The son of the well known nishikigoi breeder Isa, who came to study culling at Yamazaki at the same time as Mark.|