Shiro Utsuri, as the name suggests, are Koi Carp with an ink-black background or base skin colour (known as Sumi), overlaid with flashes of bright white patterning (known as Shiroji). Shiro Utsuri are Koi Carp in the classification Utsurimono, which translates from Japanese as ‘reflections’. This refers to the patterning on a good Shiro Utsuri which should be asymmetrical, reflecting the Koi Carps pattern along the back of the fish. The effect can be likened to a checkerboard. Shiro Utsuri should also have Black/Sumi on the fins, however, this may also be entwined with White/Shiroji.
Shiro Utsuri have a long history which dates back to the early 1900’s, where they were first produced by the highly regarded Koi breeder, Kazuo Mineura. The beautiful patterns of Shiro Utsuri made them an instant hit, establishing the variety, which would lead to the beautiful specimens we see today. Since then, Shiro Utsuri are a common sight at the All-Japan Koi Show, and often take-home prestigious awards.
Shiro Utsuri are often confused with Shiro Bekko (i.e. White bekko), due to the similarity in colours. By applying the same principles which separate Showa and Sanke the differences become clear. To put it simply, a Shiro Utsuri is a Black Koi with White markings, whereas a Shiro Bekko is a White koi with Black markings.
A good Shiro Utsuri should be of high quality, demonstrating the signature asymmetric patterning along the back. The colours present in a Hi Utsuri should be in large blocks and have well-defined edges. The Black/Sumi should be jet black with a glossy sheen. Likewise, the White/Shiroji should be clinical, likened to the colour of fresh snow.
Shiro Utsuri really are beautiful fish, considered by many (unofficially) to be the fourth Gosanke. As a result, Shiro Utsuri make a superb and majestic addition to any Koi pond.
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