Tancho Kohaku are a type of Kohaku that display a single red (hi) mark on the head, and no other hi on any part of the body. While the Tancho mark can appear in many different varieties of koi, the word "Tancho" when used by itself almost always references the Tancho Kohaku variety. See the table below for more information on non-Kohaku Tancho.
Tancho were named for their resemblance to the Japanese Crane (Grus japonensis), which also has a single red mark on the head and is commonly referred to as "tancho" in the Japanese language. The Japanese Crane is a very important cultural symbol, appearing in many Japanese myths and legends, as well as on Japanese currency. The resemblance to the Japanese Crane, as well as to the flag of Japan, make the Tancho Kohaku a highly sought after koi variety.
Tancho are a random "throw" that occur when any two type of koi from the Gosanke family are bred together. Breeding two Tancho together will produce just as many instances of Tancho as breeding two Kohaku together, or a Kohaku and a Sanke together, or any other combination of Gosanke. For this reason, it is impossible to produce Tancho in large quantities, a fact which adds to the already high popularity of the variety.
Ideally, the tancho mark should be a dark, vibrant red. The tancho mark should be of a consistent hue and tone, and should not have any breaks or flaws inside the mark. The highest quality Tancho have a mark which covers as much of the head as possible without spreading onto the shoulders or down over the eyes. The edges of the Tancho mark are also very important, and should be very crisp and clean.
While a perfectly circular tancho mark is the most coveted and sought after shape, there are many other popular shapes, including diamond, oval, and heart shaped. No matter what the shape of the tancho mark, the left and right halves should be as close to perfectly symmetrical as possible.
The body and the area of the head not covered by the tancho mark should be a clean, crisp, milky white. Look out for any flaws, blemishes or scars on the body, as these will be very evident on a koi with a single-color body, and will only become more evident as the koi ages and increases in size.
For more Tancho Kohaku images, check out the Tancho Image Gallery and Butterfly Tancho Image Gallery.
It is possible for the tancho mark to appear in any koi variety of more than one color. The table below provides a look at occurrences of Tancho in varieties other than Kohaku.