The Showa is the last of the “big three” (gosanke). It is a three-colored fish with white (shiro) and red (hi) against a black (sumi) base. The variety was established in the late 1920”s by breeding a Ki Utsuri to a Kohaku and was refined to change the yellow color to a more red color by additional cross-breedings to Kohaku. Because the Showa is black-based, the sumi is more charcoal-colored. A Hi Showais predominately red. In recent years, there has been a trend towards the kindai (new style) Showa, with out-breedings to Kohaku to improve the color qualities of the shiro and hi. This results in a Showa with more white and a more intense, whiter white. With the new Kohaku influence, sometimes it is difficult to tell the difference between a Showa and a Sanke, with the final determination made by the pattern of the sumi.
In picking out a Showa, it must be realized that Showa have an increased incidence of deformities. A Showa that appears perfect when little will often lose that perfect appearance as it matures, while an “ugly” baby will frequently grow up to be a beautiful adult. There is quite an art to picking out a Showa that will do well in shows.