Carp diem


POSTED: Thursday, June 11, 2009

It's better to go with the flow, something fish do instinctively and what Gary Hironaka, owner of Nikkei Koi, eventually learned, through his journey with koi.





        Featuring the latest in home design trends

» When: 5 to 9 p.m. tomorrow, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday


» Where: Blaisdell Exhibition Hall


» Cost: $3, children 12 and under free


» Prizes: Giveaways include Blu-ray players, a flat-screen TV, and a DVD home theater from Sam's Club; sofa from ABC Furniture; $2,000 worth of power equipment and tools from Shindaiwa, Echo & Tanaka courtesy Waipahu Lawn Equipment Sales and Service; landscaping service from Reliable Landscaping, customized home aquarium from Aquascapes, sponsored by State Farm Insurance; free gas for three days from Lex Brodie's, plus a grand prize giveaway Sunday of $500 worth of gas; auto maintenance for one year and $500 vehicle repair from Green Fleet.





        Friday, June 12

        Noon: Augie Rey featuring daughter Tahiti Rey

        1 p.m.: Tom Moffatt, concert promoter and radio personality will sign copies of “;Showman of the Pacific: 50 Years of Music and Rock Stars”;

Sunday, June 14
        Noon: Mel Cabang will perform and sign copies of his CD and DVDs
        1 p.m.: Danny Couch
        2:30 p.m.: Karen Keawehawaii




“;Koi are known as a symbol of longevity, good fortune and good luck,”; said Hironaka—prosperity that he appears to have experienced firsthand.

You will get to see the fruits of his labor along with other members of the Hawaii Goldfish and Carp Association this weekend at the 32nd Home Garden and Remodeling Show tomorrow through Sunday at the Blaisdell Exhibition Hall. There will be fish for sale as well as in competition as part of the Ohana Koi and Goldfish Show, marking the organization's 50th anniversary. First and second place prizes will be awarded in 30 categories, with the winner of the grand champion prize presented a ceramic plaque with the pattern of the winning koi.

It was at the 50th State Fair 17 years ago that a game of chance helped shape Hironaka's destiny. He tossed a pingpong ball at rows of glass jars and it landed in the mouth of one, garnering him the prize of a small orange fish.

“;I didn't even know what it was; I thought it was a comet (fish),”; said Hironaka. He brought it home in a little jar and raised it in a 29-gallon tank, which was soon replaced with a 55-gallon one and eventually a 300-gallon garden pond his father built. As the fish and tanks grew, so did Hironaka's aspirations.

“;I bought more koi from local breeders when I was 13 to 15 years old ... and at 15 I started importing koi from Japan. I had a friend who was from there and we worked out the shipment.”;

He borrowed $500 from his parents to do so, and as Hironaka sold the fish, he used the proceeds to pay them back.

“;It was like an investment loan ... and that was my high school 'job,' selling koi.”;

After graduating he pursued medical school at Brigham Young University in Utah thinking that the field would give his entrepreneurial plans a jump-start.

“;It was the only career I thought would pay enough for the koi business,”; he said.

AFTER A FEW twists and turns swimming upstream, he graduated with an organic chemistry degree in '03 and finished a semester of med school, but said, “;I decided medicine wasn't my passion, and I moved back home to focus on the koi.”;

He returned to that 300-gallon pond in '05, raising and selling koi, and within a year his effort paid off, enough to buy a farm for the company in Kahaluu the next year.

“;People like koi,”; Hironaka said, adding they look forward to going home to look at and feed the fish, which, combined with the sound of water, calms the spirit.

“;Sometimes koi are used as fashion (statements) as well,”; he said, telling of a woman who styled her home in black and white. “;Her pond only had black and white fish in it to match the design of her house.”;

Koi is not as high maintenance as some might imagine, and if carefully managed, the hobby doesn't have to burn a hole in one's pocket.

“;All you need is the correct filtration system,”; said Hironaka. “;If you have the right one, you spend 15 minutes out of the month to clean the filter. A nice 'juvenile' koi about 6 to 8 inches in length costs about $30.”;

For mature ones, at about 26 to 30 inches, prices vary, said Hironaka.

“;A nice one starts at about $30, and the price goes all the way up to half a million dollars—these are often entered into the World Koi Show—and people do buy them,”; he said. “;But I haven't sold one for half-million—a third of that maybe. But not a half-million.”;