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Shusui










Shusui (pronounced Shoo'swee) means blue autumn sky.

Mr. Kichigoro Akiyama created this exceptional variety in 1912 while a teacher at the Tokyo Fisheries College.

This is the doitsu version of the Asagi. The characteristic feature of Shusui is a clear blue back, on which a line of large, dark blue scales are neatly arranged with a complementary hi pattern. Most points of appreciation for Asagi apply to Shusui.






Color and Pattern


The blue ground should be reminiscent of an “autumn sky” in shades of ultramarine or royal blue. The bald head is a pale blue color. The blue ground must be of even quality and hue from the neck to the tail and from the dorsa line to just below the lateral line. The paler the blue, the more sharply it offsets the dorsal scalation and hi pattern. Neither the head nor back may have any spots or blurs.

The dark, large scales on the dorsal line are conspicuous and should therefore display neatly. The dorsal scalation should start as close as possible to the head and continue beyond the dorsal fin to reach the tail without being interrupted by crooked or absent scales. Black or gray scales will earn demerits. Single or clusters of superfluous scales (muda-goke) that appear between the lateral line and the dorsal arrangement will lower the value of the Shusui.

The hi is the same fiery red as in Asagi. It should be confined to the chin, cheeks, and abdomen (except in Hi-Shusui and Hana-Shusui); with a symmetrical pattern on the cheeks and flanks. Hi also features prominently on the base of the pectoral fins (Shusui-bire), giving these Koi a flamboyant look.

Early versions of Shusui had little or no red pattern and were mostly a bluish color especially on thier backs. Beginning around 1930, a red pattern was introduced from crossing back to Asagi. From that time forward Shusui with their typical lateral red pattern looks similar to what we see today.






Here are 4 Types of Shusui:

  • Hana-Shusui Apart from the hi pattern on the abdomen, a second line of hi runs between the lateral and the dorsal lines.
  • Hi-Shusui The red of the abdomen extends upward to cover all of the back.
  • Ki-Shusui A yellow Shusui with blue on the back.
  • Pearl-Shusui A Shusui with fukurin on the scales of the back.

Occasionally you might see Shusui which have gin rin type scales running down their backs instead of the normal non-reflective scales. These "gin rin" type Shusui are called Pearl Shusui. However, they are not entered in a gin rin class at a Koi show.

Metallic Shusui can occasionally be seen. If they have a red lateral pattern they are called Kinsui. If no red is present they are called Ginsui.


Doitsu goi and especailly Shusui were an important infusion of additional genetic diversity bringing a lateral pattern and introducting larger potential genetic size and more robust body shape that improved the earlier slimmer wild magoi type conformation.

The most important element of appreciating any Koi variety is conformation. The ideal body conformation for a Koi is a blend of Magoi and German carp body types resulting in a more robust powerful body shape that is not too fat.

After conformation, the arrangement of the doitsu scales is the next most important element of appreciation of Shusui and other doistu goi. The enlarged mirror scales on Shusui are quite conspicuous as they are dark blue or black in color and stand out against the lighter blue skin of the back and sides of a Shusui.


There are three main types of doitsu scalation.

Kagami goi (pronounced kah ga mee) translates to ladder carp. Also called a mirror carp in the west it is named for the large rows of scales running down the back and along the sides that looks like a ladder. Mirror carp have a row of these large scales that run down each side of the dorsal fin and along the lateral line of the side of the Koi. Mirror carp are considered the most refined and valued type of doitsu goi. The more organized and symmetrical these large scales appear the more desirable the doitsu goi. Missing or misaligned scales are undesirable and distract from the over all beauty of these types of Koi. In a Koi show doitsu goi are judged for having neat complete coverage of doitsu scales on each side of the top of the Koi.

Great emphasis is placed on the rows of enlarged scales being even and organized. Scales should be similar in size, shape, and color and arranged in neat rows without and gaps or scattered random doitsu scales.


Kawai goi (leather carp) are either completely without scales or have only a short row of small scales on each side of the dorsal fin. This type of doitsu goi is considered less accomplished because of the lack of a complete row of scales down the back and is ranked lower in Koi shows than similar qualtiy Kagami goi.


Yoroi goi (armored carp) have very large scales or a mixture of small and large scales scattered over most of their body. This type of doitsu goi is considered unrefined and the least desirable. Koi of this type of scalation are not considered show quality regardless of their other attributes.


Buying baby Shusui with good future potential is very difficult. It is safer to buy Shusui when they are two or even three years old because it is much easier to determine their development potential at this stage.

You should pick a Shusui with a good body conformation and a neat well organized scalation arrangement. You should avoid Shusui with too many misaligned scales. You want a light blue color on the back with a clean unblemished head. Avoid Shusui that are dark when young as they tend to continue to darken over time. Look for an attractive lateral hi pattern with even consistent hi. Avoid Shusui with lots of small stray red spots as this may indicate weaker red that might breakdown as the Koi matures.



Resources: Koi USA Magazine, Shusui by Ray Jordan



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