Castle Games

    Keywords: Culture & History, Tournament

Chinese: 御城棋 (ychngq)
Japanese: 御城碁 (oshirogo)
Korean: 어성기

The castle games (御城碁, oshirogo) were a series of important annual games played in the Shogun's castle by the best Japanese players of the day between the years on 1626-1863. The games were surrounded by the politics of the four main go houses (Honinbo, Hayashi, Inoue and Yasui) and three minor houses (Sakaguchi, Hattori and Mizutani), among other characters.


Only the following players were allowed to participate:

  • heads of the four houses,
  • their heirs, and
  • 7 dan or higher players of other houses.

In all, 536 games were played by 67 different players.

1626 - 1863

The castle games were played in the Shogun's castle by the best Japanese players of the day. The first castle game was in 1626. In 1664, the castle games became annual (with a few gaps). 1667 is the first year when more than one game was played. Starting from 1669, the castle games became exhibitions -- games were actually played elsewhere beforehand, and only replayed in the castle. However, some quickplay games (called okonomi 御好, requested) were actually played at the request of Go loving high officials.

Honinbo Shusaku is celebrated for his undefeated 19-0 record in castle games. (See Invincible, The Games Of Shusaku for some game records.)

The End of the Tradition

The last castle games were held in 1861. In the last years of the Tokugawa Shogunate, the political turmoil ultimately leading to the Meiji Restoration disrupted many Japanese traditional ceremonies and institutions -- and Go was no exception. -- 1862 exhibition games became the last of the long tradition.

In 1951, the games were compiled into a series of ten books, Oshiro gofu.


TakeNGive: An interesting article about the castle games, dealing with the duties of Japanese go and shogi players at the court of the Shogun, is at [ext] JanSteen's GoBase.

Pok: The article at is based on my translation of an essay by Masukawa Koichi. I have revised this translation and published it under the title [ext] The Castle Games of the Edo Period - An Eye-Witness Report.

Castle Games last edited by hnishy on October 31, 2022 - 04:21
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