Another of the two colour varieties, the Bekko has sumi markings on white, red or yellow skin; the vast majority being Shiro Bekko, a white Koi with black markings.

If Shiro Utsuri can be thought of as a Showa without any red, then the Shiro Bekko can be thought of in the same way as a Sanke without any red. Indeed this variety does come from Sanke lineage.

Although sometimes mistaken for Shiro Utsuri there should be no great difficulty in differentiating between the two. The sumi markings of Bekko should be small, with the possible exception of a bold shoulder marking, and lie on the back of the Koi not extending below the lateral line. Unlike the "wrapping" markings of Utsuri. The sumi should of course be a deep jet black with clear well defined edges with the possible exception of the front edges which may be blurred to show good depth of colour. To offset these sumi markings should be snow white skin, a highly prized characteristic in this variety. It is the simplicity of pattern which gives the Shiro Bekko its clean, neat and delicate look. Speckling of the sumi of course detracts from this effect as does too many sumi markings. Far better to have fewer well placed markings. Evenness of body colour is another requirement in the search for quality in this variety.

The head should be pure white, although many specimens tend towards a yellowish hue. This shows a lack of quality as in the best specimens there is no difference between the head and body colour. There should generally be no sumi marking to the head, another distinguishing feature between the Bekko and Utsuri. The odd sumi spot however is acceptable as long as it is not dominant and does not detract from the overall balance. Head blemishes and staining are a serious fault in this variety and are unfortunately all too common.

The fins should be white with the pectoral fins showing a few sumi stripes just as with Sanke. This being a further distinguishing feature between Bekko and Utsuri, the latter having motoguro (black joints). 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.

There are two other colour versions of Bekko, the red-bodied Aka Bekko and the yellow-bodied Ki Bekko. Both varieties are rarely seen with good specimens being highly prized.

Aka Bekko, when seen, often have an uneven body colour and also are said to tend to fade as they grow older.
Ki Bekko, in addition to these problems, also tend to speckle with their sumi.

Doitsu Bekko are also available, here a neat even row of scaling along the dorsal ridge is important as any faults are very easily seen. Doitsu Bekko can be very pretty particularly when small but seem to lack elegance when grown large.

In conclusion, it is perhaps the simple elegance of this variety which provides a contrast to their more flamboyant cousins which makes the Bekko aa welcome addition to any Koi collection.

Stan Collinge