Japan - cool places
Places to visit when in Japan, related to Go. Shopping, bookstores, clubs, restaurants, historical places, events, cemeteries, shrines, transport etc.
Please add your choices. Thanks!
See also Wikitravel, a worldwide travel guide Wiki. Information of interest specifically to Go players should be added here; more general travel info should go there. Their Japan page is here: http://wikitravel.org/en/Japan
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Here (in Japanese) is the country-wide listing for go clubs (碁会所) from NTT's on-line phone listings "Townpage".
I've made a Tokyo Go Salons map displaying the location of several of the below salons, as well as a few not listed. --jsha 9.8.2009
Tamsin If you can, do try and visit the Nihon Ki-in's main office. You need to get off at the Ichigaya subway stop and find your way from there (it's not far and the Nihon Ki-in has a map, albeit an upside-down one, on their website). You will find lots of gobans and stones on display, plus photos from historic matches at which these pieces of equipment were used. If you're nice, somebody will probably show the famous "Yugen no ma" or "Room of Profound Darkness", the press room and the the inseis' playing rooms -- all uncannily accurately reproduced in Hikaru no Go. The Nihon Ki-in also runs a very big playing salon for the public. They will fix you up with appropriate opponents and everyone is very kind. Finally, if you can't get along to the Nihon Ki-in, but feel the urge to play, you can find dozens of go clubs, large and small, listed in the English language edition of the Tokyo phone book.
I believe they are closed for playing on saturdays. Note that the dan ranks here are especially inflated, expect KGS+4
MarkD I can confirm that they are closed on Saturdays. The price for playing there is 1.100 Yen.
KurtSauer The Nihon Ki-in's Yaesu branch, located directly opposite from the Tokyo main train station, also has a playing area, and it is open on Saturdays. I've added the Yaesu branch below and added their hours for both locations.
|Branch||Nihon Ki-in Main Office|
|Address||7-2 Gobancho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 102-0076|
|Phone||+81 (3) 3288-8727|
|Open playing hours||Mo Tu We Fr Su 11:00~18:00 (last pairing 17:00)|
|Th 11:00~20:00 (last pairing 19:00)|
|Sa Closed (but the bookstore is open)|
|Table fee (as of 2012-12)||Non-members JPY 1300|
|Members JPY 1100|
|Students JPY 900|
|Branch||Nihon Ki-in Yaesu Branch|
|Address||9th floor, 1-7-20 Yaesu, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 103-0028|
|Phone||+81 (3) 3231-0915|
|Open playing hours||Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa 11:00~20:00 (last pairing 19:00)|
|Su 10:00~18:00 (last pairing 17:00)|
|Table fee (as of 2012-12)||Non-members JPY 1500|
|Members JPY 1200|
|Students JPY 1000|
Note that the hours may vary based on special events or for year-end holidays.
Note: No longer in business (see Updates for details): I can recommend Ben's Cafe located in Shinjuku district of Tokyo, just next to JR Takadanobaba Station. Atmosphere was very friendly and my beginner friends got a very good teaching session in English. Be warned though that their website says there will be go lessons at 11:00 am every Sunday, but there wasn't lesson when I just visited the place and playing only started afted twelve. I still got to play some good games and had fun. It's a good place to have breakfast too. --Esko Arajärvi 31.3.2007
Address: 1-29-21 Takadanobaba, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 169-0075
Update 2010-02-11: While there is indeed a go board and stones available for use at Ben's, the go club that used to meet on Sundays no longer meets. The go board is put away when not in use, but if you ask the English-speaking staff, they'll be glad to show you where it is. --Kurt Sauer
Update 2011-06-19: Unfortunately, Ben's Cafe closed its doors permanently on 2011-05-20. --Kurt Sauer
okw: Anyone heard of a similar place, with Westeners gathering to play Go? I was thinking of starting a weekly meeting in Tokyo. Contact me if interested!
Here is a picture of the shop on Google Street View. I hope that's the one - it's on this street in any case. It's a rather small shop, but full of books on Go and shogi.
ZenGarden They have a large selection of gobans and stones, but it is pricey. They only speak Japanese and don't take credit cards only cash or cheques, which is a drawback. The Ginza shop is easier to access than the Ookubo Goban Ten in Shinjuku (website mentioned below), but the Ookubo shop is very friendly and has a very good range of stock (AND takes credit cards!).
Update: I can confirm that the shop in Komagome is still trading as of March 2012.
Dogenzaka is close to the Shibuya station, Tokyo. This Go Salon is featured in Hikaru No Go number 8. Note that it has moved recently. Refer to http://www.ushiyama.co.jp/igo/index_3.html for the new location. Note that this salon can be difficult to find.
The New Otani Hotel has a Go Salon on the tenth floor. It is small, but has a really nice atmosphere. Kobayashi Chizu-sensei told me that the previous hotel owner was a Go player, and back then the Go salon had much bigger premises, but now his son has taken over the hotel and has moved the Go salon to a smaller location. I've taken some pictures. -- maruseru
kokiri - actually the imperial hotel had a small salon, too, last time i checked. I didn't play there, but chatted to the receptionist a bit. IIRC, they had a professional (i think it was mainly female pros as i recall) turn up for a regular teaching session on a friday afternoon (c. 2005)
The Sunshine Go Club, 9th floor of the Sunshine Building in Tokyo’s east Ikebukuro neighborhood. [ref AGA ejournal May 28, 2009; Volume 10, #23]
ZenGarden The luxury hotel Okura, in Toranomon, has an active Go centre, where friendly hotel staff provide green tea and are usually amused/intrigued to welcome westerners who play I-go! The owner and founder of the hotel, Baron Okura, was a great patron of Go and the centre holds lessons (on Sundays) as well as offering the chance to find a player most afternoons. There is also a good bookshop in the lobby which stocks Go books as well as a great selection of Japanese literature in translation. I once turned up at the centre and played a 5 Dan pro, who I think was generally in attendance: needless to say I was thrashed but he was very courteous...
MarkD During my Januar 2012 trip I discovered a Go Salon near Kanda Station in Tokyo. Exit the station (Ginza Line) through the north exit, look for a Burger King restaurant. The Go salon is to the right on the 5th floor, there is a big sign with a go board in front of it. They have one room with very old furniture and go material. The players I've met there were really strong, the owner was introduced as "strongest player in the region". He managed to beat a 6 dan even with 3 stones handicap easily. Everyone was suprised to see a foreigner there, so if you are looking for a place that is not used to see gaijin this might by the club for you. Everyone was extremly friendly and we had some good laughs. The owner does not speak english at all, some players do. The price for playing there is 1.000 Yen, they open at 12:00. I will definitly visit that place again. Here is a Google Streetview link.
okw In Shimokitazawa (on station away from Shibuya, by express Inokashira line) I found out there is this very nice Go Salon: Google Streetview http://shimokita-igo.at.webry.info/ The owner speaks a limited English, but he was very welcoming when I came the first time, and the ambiance was very relaxed among all players.
Dave: Anyone who goes to Ryogoku station to visit Maezawa Gobanten above (or even just goes to Ryogoku station) can check out the Edo-Tokyo Museum and the Ryogoku Kokugikan where sumo tournaments are held. More importantly, perhaps, the thirsty shopper/sightseer has the opportunity to drop in at Beerpub Popeye and enjoy as many as you like of their 70+ beers. Google Map and Beer Advocate reviews, enjoy! :-)
I've created a Kyoto Go Salons map of places I scouted out on a recent trip. --jsha 9.8.2009
kokiri One of the subtemples in the Daitokuji complex in Kyoto had a go board on display upon which Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu played. See http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Image:Go_board_Hideyoshi_Ieyasu_Ryogenin_M1868.jpg It's not exactly must-see, but a bit of go history in a pleasant setting nevertheless.
There are a number of Go salons in Western Japan, too. Some options include:
Located very close to Osaka Station (JR), the Nihon Ki-In Western Branch has a large playing area as well as several classrooms. There is also a tournament room on one of the upper floors (though it is normally locked up).
Estrela is a most unique place to play Go. Entering the place, if you didn't happen to notice the kanji for "Igo" on the signboard as you walked in, you'd think you were in any other small but modern bar in Japan. But the occasional 5x5 or 9x9 board on the bar gives away the fact that there's an entire room devoted to Go upstairs, and that the owner is Hideki Enda 9p.
Estrela is located between the Temma and Osaka stations on the JR Loop Line (but much easier to get to from Temma Station). They're open every day except Wednesday, but it's best to check their website for changes. On Friday and Saturday nights, from 6 PM, they have a Go circle to which anyone who plays is welcome (no cover, but you have to buy something from the cafe).
Be sure to use a map and check their website out. The place is nondescript from the outside and is located on the ground floor in a covered shotengai-style mall, about 4 to 5 minutes walk from the Temma JR station.
Address: Naniwa-machi 4-14, Kita-ku, Osaka 530-0022, Japan, Telephone: 06-7173-1353 --Kurt Sauer
A small and unassuming Go center very close to Tennoji JR and subway stations, located on the 4th floor of the Shinwa-Kosan Building, Hiden-in machi 8-11, Tennoji-ku, Osaka 543-0055. Telephone 06-6773-0541. The staff speaks only Japanese but they welcome dan level and high kyu players any day. They have beginner classes on Thursday (most weeks) from 1 PM, under the guidance of the owner, Morie Mizutani 2p, who is a really wonderful lady.
I've blogged about this club once -- it is where I really started playing Go, back when I lived in Osaka. The patrons are nice, it's non-smoking, and the tea is good. :-) --Kurt Sauer
BobMcGuigan I'd recommend visiting Shusaku's birthplace in Innoshima, on the Inland Sea. It isn't in a major tourist area so it would need a special trip, but there is a Shusaku museum there where you can see his favorite goban and stones. Innoshima has a web page (do a Google search) and you can get travel directions to the Shusaku museum there.
BobMcGuigan: How about Onioshidashi? It's a park-like natural site a couple of hours by train outside of Tokyo. Many years ago a massive volcanic eruption created a lava field which by now has become a beautiful park, with shrubs and flowers and birds all over. There are paths through the lava on which you can walk. The volcano is still somewhat active and you can see it smoking in the distance. Just to make it tangentially relevant to SL, when I visited there in the mid-1980's I bought small ceramic figures of two frogs playing go at the souvenir shop by the entrance . You can get there by bus from Karuizawa Station and Nakakaruizawa Station on the Shinetsu Main train line, or Naganoharakusatsu Station and Manza-Shikazawaguchi Station on the Azuma line.
Rafael Caetano I guess most people interested in JapanCoolPlaces are going to the big cities such as Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, etc. Anyway, if you're willing to travel a bit more, there's Hyuga city, in Miyazaki prefecture, Kyushu. Hyuga is "the home of the shell clam stones".
I was lucky to go to Hyuga in 2001, as the Brazilian representative in the WAGC. An English guide who worked there showed us a very small "cemetery-island" close to the beach. They say that samurais were buried there. Instead of flowers, there were go stones on top of the graves. No kidding.
- Go in Kyoto