Our Own "Living Jewel"
By Linda Montgomery
It’s hard to know where to begin when writing about a man who has done as much for the hobby of koi keeping as Ed
Fujimoto. It is quite overwhelming and almost impossible to mention all of the positive influences that this quiet and energetic
man has accomplished in the many years that he has admired and loved koi. This task was even more daunting when I began to
realize that many of his achievements I would have to discover for myself by researching back issues of Koi USA, as Ed is
extremely modest and dwells very little on his past accomplishments.
Dr. Bertrelle Caswell, who did a wonderful article on Ed that was published in the 1980 May/June issue of Koi USA, has
no idea how much she has helped. The following is an excerpt from that article:
Eddie was born in Seattle, Washington. At the beginning of the war, as a teenager, he was sent to a relocation camp in
Idaho. Farm workers were needed, so he volunteered to go out and pick sugar beets and dig potatoes. When summer was over,
he decided to stay in Preston, Idaho, and work in a restaurant while going to school. He stayed two semesters, went back to
camp, but ended up going to Cleveland, Ohio, where he worked in a defense plant making parachutes.
"From Cleveland I went into the service in 1944. I volunteered. The first couple of years I was in uniform. I was sent
to Okinawa. At that time, they were repatriating Japanese prisoners of war from Russia, and they were interrogating people.
They hardly had anybody in the CIC (Counter Intelligence Corp.) who could speak Japanese and English. I worked as an interpreter
for them for a couple of months, and pretty soon they had me doing it by myself. They sent me to Tokyo to CIC school. That
is how I got into investigation.
I’ve been in investigation all my adult life, it seems. I served with the Office of Special Investigation for seventeen
years. I came back from that, and I played for one whole year…went to school, took one subject – landscaping,
motorboating. Then one day I was building onto my house when I got a call from a friend who said that Douglas Aircraft wanted
an investigator. I went down there and got the job, and have stayed with them for 14 years."
All of his life Ed has owned and raised small fish, such as goldfish and tropicals, so the transition to koi in the mid
1960’s wasn’t all that far of a jump. It was a great benefit to all of us in the koi hobby when he first became
interested in koi while living in southern California and attending a local koi show. The Grand Champion of the show, a beautiful
sanke, caught his eye and that’s all it took, he was hooked! The evolution from koi admirer to koi keeper was almost
instantaneous when soon after he purchased his first eleven koi on a visit to the Japanese Deer Park in Los Angeles, California.
"The day we were there they were selling koi at $10 each, about 3" long. It is funny: I was stationed in Japan, three different
tours, a total of twelve years – my last six years in the Nigata area – and I never went to see koi. Then I came
back, and after I got interested, I took a special trip just to see Hanako. That’s all I did, see fish!" (In the first
issue of Koi USA, Ed speaks of this memorable experience visiting with Hanako and his owner Dr. Koshihara, who also was responsible
for first coining the phrase in 1966, "Living Jewels", which has now become synonymous with Nishikigoi the world over.)
Not only has Ed contributed to our wonderful hobby over the years, by his numerous informative articles, but more importantly,
by his unique ability of bringing knowledge and people together. This talent was demonstrated to it’s fullest extent
by his creation of Koi USA. When asked the question of what prompted him to start Koi USA he explained that he was a member
of So-Cal Koi Club but it was too far to travel from Orange County, so he co-founded the Nishiki Koi Club. So-Cal Koi Club
had many Japanese-speaking people who could also read Japanese and therefore, had most of the knowledge gleaned from books
and Japanese experts that they came in contact with. For several years after the new club was formed, the members lamented
that no one could read Japanese, including Ed himself, and as such were not privy to much of the information available to
those who could read and write Japanese. There were several magazines written in English by Japanese writers, but it was difficult
to understand them. Many members wanted a source of koi information they could rely upon. In 1976, Ed decided that even though
he had no writing or publishing experience he would put out a magazine to see if it would go over. He knew nothing about layouts
or putting a magazine together, but his good friend and co-worker at Douglas Aircraft, Johnny Pounds, had been publishing
a small magazine "The Treasure Hunter". He taught Ed all that was involved in producing a small publication, including the
layouts, that were done page by page, by hand on a drawing board, with a T-square, blue pencil and rubber glue. His first
attempt was Volume 1, Issue 1, and was sent out to known koi members of different clubs free of charge. It is fondly recalled
by many friends, how Ed drove around with the first issues of Koi USA in the back of his Volkswagen van, to dry them out in
the hot California sun, before taking them to the post office, in an effort to reduce the postage. The response was great
for this first endeavor, thus began his part-time career, for the next five years, as a writer, publisher, editor, photographer,
layout person, ad solicitor, and every other job connected with getting a magazine out.
In 1980, when Ed turned over the publication of Koi USA to the Associated Koi Clubs of America he felt a twinge of regret
at no longer being publisher, but he said "I’m glad it is AKCA that is taking it over. It has taken AKCA six months
or more to come to a decision, and I was getting worried because I didn’t want to turn it over to anybody else. I wanted
to make sure the magazine was going to be for all koi people, and not for one group only. AKCA represents all of us, all over,
so I felt it would be good."
Ed feels his long ago intuition that AKCA would be good for Koi USA has been realized. When asked what has surprised him
most in the last twenty-five years of Koi USA, he responded, "How professional the magazine has become compared to the twenty-four
page, black and white magazine I started with. Koi USA has far surpassed what I had hoped it would ever be and I am happy
that I contributed something to it’s birth."
What Ed now enjoys most about Koi USA is reading articles on koi health and he feels really indebted to the many professionals
who have generously contributed articles so selflessly. But putting things in perspective…before reading anything, he
always skims through the magazine first for names or photos of his many friends that he has made throughout all his years
in koi raising.
All the stories that Ed has on koi keeping could easily fill a book, but my personal favorite is a fun tale, which he swears
is true. "I bought some baby koi from a dealer who had just imported them from Japan. The ones I looked at were about 3 or
4 inches long, from which I picked out about half a dozen. I’m almost positive he charged me only fifty cents each.
Anyway, several years later, I entered one of these fish in a show and it came in 3rd place. At the show, those
fish that placed were placed in separate tanks and displayed. The Grand Champion, 1st place, 2nd place,
and 3rd place winner tanks were placed side by side. When my wife, Ann, and I went to look at our koi in the 3rd
place tank we were surprised as we witnessed her jumping into the adjacent 2nd place tank and almost immediately
into the 1st place tank. I naturally caught it and returned it to it’s rightful place. Maybe it thought it
was better than a 3rd place winner. I thought it was!"
The single most important piece of advice that Ed would give to a new koi member would be to buy inexpensive koi, so that
if you should lose it, the fish and money won’t be a double loss. He also highly recommends joining a koi club to learn
about koi keeping before buying any koi. The biggest misconception in the hobby that he has noticed over his many years has
been in the area of filtration. There are so many new types of filters, with the manufactures all stating that theirs is the
best. He still uses a gravel-down filter with very satisfactory results and feels that "what works for you is probably the
Now a twenty-year retiree of the U.S. Air Force and an early retiree of McDonnell Douglas Corporation (now Boeing), he
currently enjoys boating and fishing. Ed and Ann presently are living in Kingston, Washington on four acres of land on the
waterfront and upkeep on the property keeps Ed more than busy.
In all his years in the koi hobby, Ed’s most rewarding experience has been the successes of Koi USA, Associated Koi
Clubs of America, Pacific Northwest Koi Clubs Association, and last but certainly not least, making lasting friendships. Besides
being instrumental in creating all of them, he was also the first chairman of AKCA and PNKCA, and Co-founded the Nishiki Koi
Club, Puget Sound Koi Club, and Olympic Koi Club. In addition to these many accomplishments, Ed has also been a judge at koi
shows, both the Northwest Koi and Goldfish Club and the Canada Koi Club shows. His unique ability to make things happen has
been essential in helping to promote the hobby of koi keeping for over a quarter of a century. Both his quick ready smile
and his warm personality have welcomed more new koi enthusiasts into this hobby than any other single person. We all owe so
much to this wonderful man! Thank you Ed!Note: This article was written in 2000 for the 25th anniversary issue
of Koi USA.