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Koi Varieties




Shiro Bekko (Sheer-o beh-ko): White Koi with black spots on the upper half of the body (on the back above the lateral line). The black should preferably not be on the head but definitely not on the nose. It should be from the shoulders back to the tail.


Aka Bekko (ah-ka beh-ko): Red Koi with black spots instead of white and black.


Ki Bekko (Kee beh-ko): Yellow Koi with black spots instead of white and black.


The earliest Bekko appeared in the Taisho era between 1912 and1926. It therefore supports the perception that Bekko is a "by-product" of Sanke spawning where either the white is totally absent (Aka Bekko) or the red is absent (Shiro Bekko). Manny proud Sanke owners have ended up with a Shiro Bekko when the hi disappeared during the development on the young koi. Bekko literally means "tortoiseshell" and are either white (Shiro) red (Aka) or yellow (Ki) Koi with black markings. Ki Bekko is very rare, while the Aka Bekko is popular but few are produced. Shiro Bekko is most frequently seen and the specimens are more refined.


As mentioned in the article on Utsurimono, the newcomer to the hobby frequently confuses the Shiro Bekko with Shiro Utsuri. For ease of reference, the differences between the two varieties are the following:


Sumi is usually present on the head and nose of an Utsurimono with distinct menware or hachiware patterning, while the head of the Bekko is normally single coloured.


Sumi on the Utsurimono may appear in large blocks, wrapping around the koi from below the lateral line towards the dorsal line. The Bekko have smaller sumi plates resembling a tortoise shell or stepping stones, above the lateral line.


Sumi in the pectoral fins of an Utsurimono appears as black fin joints (motoguro). Sumi on the pectoral fins of the Bekko appears as stripes (tejima).


Sumi may appear inside the mouth of the Utsurimono.

The same confusion exists when comparing the Aka Bekko to the Aka Sanke. The Aka Bekko will have a solid red skin and may have a pale belly and white pectoral fins, while the Aka Sanke will have distinct white markings either on the nose or near the tail. There will also be a clear distinction between a white belly and the red marking on the body. If the Aka Sanke is viewed at a 45 degree angle and any white marking is noticeable, the Koi will be an Aka Sanke.


Whether considering a Shiro Bekko, Aka Bekko, or Ki Bekko, one should concentrate firstly on body conformation. Because of the relative simplicity of the Bekko markings, it may not hide deformities. Therefore close scrutiny is absolutely necessary, since the slightest imperfections on a fish with such relative plain markings will become more noticeable and worse as the fish matures. Concentrate on balance and sound conformation and deportment. The skin should always appear smooth, clear, soft bright and lustrous. The skin quality, for the secondary colour must enhance the sumi. The Shiro Bekko should have a true white base with solid, jet black and well defined sumi markings to accentuate the pattern. The individual scales on the shiro as well as the sumi should not be clearly noticeable. Traditionally the sumi appeared to float on the white skin. With the modern Bekko the blue sashi combined with the blue black of the sumi markings give a more pleasing three dimensional appearance to the Bekko. There should be no yellowing on the white skin. Yellowish colouration is a common problem associated with Shiro Bekko, especially on the head. Although this yellowish colour on a young koi may disappear, it is never guaranteed and it is recommended that when selecting young Bekko, select one with a clear white head combined with blue eyes.


                   bekko_100              a_bekko


The relatively simple sumi markings of the Bekko have evolved in line with that of Sanke. It has changed from a relatively heavy tortoise shell dappling, to sumi that tends to be more sparsely distributed in smaller patches. It should be confined to the area above the lateral line. The emphasis with this variety are placed more on quality of the sumi, rather than the pattern. There has to be a moderate number of sumi markings to help create the Bekko’s appearance of being neat, tidy and elegant. Where the emphasis on Utsurimono lies with the impression of power, with the Bekko it is the impression of elegance. A large sumi marking on the shoulder is thought to be desirable, because of the contrast that it forms with a clear white head. A little sumi marking on the head, as in Sanke is not a great fault. The Shiro Bekko’s pectoral fins can either be white or stripped with sumi, similar to that of Sanke. Sumi stripes sometimes extend into the tail and dorsal but they should not dominate as the finnage of this variety should have a delicate translucent quality.


The same principles mentioned above also apply to the Aka and Ki Bekko. It is however essential that the base colour of either red or yellow should be uniform in colour from head to tail.

                          ki_bekko             aka_bekko




 Some other facts about Bekko



Aizumi: "Blue" sumi, the highest quality
Ato Sumi: Late appearing sumi
Doitsu: Kawagoi, almost no scales at all. Kagamigoi, rows of scales along the dorsal and lateral lines only.
Tejima or Tezumi: Sumi stripes in the finnage.
Urushizumi: Dark and glossy sumi, with a hint of blue.
Kurozumi: Rich glossy black sumi without blue highlights.



Last Updated on Friday, 20 December 2013 12:10