Basic Japanese for reading go books

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黒 先 白 死

To read and enjoy Japanese go books, you only need to learn a very small number of kanji. Of course, that number won't let you understand every word of a discussion book. But many books of tsumego and tesuji problems use a convenient format of headers and titles that use a limited set of kanji.

Probably, the very first word that you should know because it is written in all Go books is Go itself (pronounced "igo" in Romaji):

Go (igo) 囲碁 

Then, you want to know whether the problem is Black to play or White to play. So the first kanji to learn are these two colours.

Black 黒

White 白

There are two common patterns for indicating who is to play.

Turn 番

First 先

That's enough to get started%%%

Sometimes the desired result is given in the problem. Or the result may be mentioned in the answer. Typical results are living, killing, and making a ko. There are also two different kanji used for life. Also ko is usually written in katakana, but the kanji can be found in older books.

Death 死

Alive 生 き

Life 活

Ko コ ウ or 劫

So here are some typical combinations

Black to play 黒 番

Black to play and live 黒 先 生 き

Black to play and kill White 黒 先 白 死

White to play and live 白 先 生 き

White to play and kill Black 白 先 黒 死

Next, it helps to know which answer diagram is correct. They are usually labeled:

Correct 正 解

Failure 失 敗


So here are the most important terms.

黒, 白, 番, 先,

死, 生 き, 活, コ ウ, 劫,

正 解, 失 敗.


Links to pages showing the kanji with nice fonts and animated strokes

[ext] Home Page
[ext] Black (kuro)
[ext] White (shiro)
[ext] Turn (ban)
[ext] First (sen)
[ext] Death (shi)
[ext] Life #1
[ext] Life #2
[ext] Correct (sei)
[ext] solution (kai)
[ext] wrong-1 (shitsu)
[ext] wrong-2 (hai)

Here is another site with a limited set of kanji. Includes spoken sentences and calligraphy video.

[ext] Home Page
[ext] Black (kuro)
[ext] White (shiro)
[ext] Turn (ban)
[ext] First (sen)
[ext] Life #1
[ext] wrong-1 (shitsu)


Once you have mastered the basic Japanese here, you are ready to move on to Intermediate Japanese for Reading Go Books.

Comments that were here have been moved to /Discussion


Basic Japanese for reading go books last edited by ayaros on February 25, 2020 - 17:29
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