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 Wikivoyage 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: https://en.wikivoyage.org/wiki/Japan and their travel guide for Go players https://en.wikivoyage.org/wiki/Go here.
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All are in Japanese language.
i-Townpage (Online phone listings) contains the country-wide listing for go clubs (碁会所).
Gokaisho.info has a search function that will let you find clubs near a given station or in a prefecture.
Shogi-Igo Kaisho Guide Go(and Shogi)-club listing site, well organized and supported. Comments from users can be added.
Gokaisho Map Google Map of Go salons in Japan (somewhat old).
Coronavirus relief crowdfunding (completed in 2020) for Go clubs: Includes links and addresses of the clubs involved.
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
Searching „igo“ in Google finds several unlisted Go salons as well
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
|Branch||Nihon Ki-in Main Office|
|Address||7-2 Gobancho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 102-0076|
|Nearest station||Ichigaya (Y14/S04/N09)|
|Phone||+81 (3) 3288-8840|
|Open playing hours||Monday to Friday 11:00~17:00|
|Sat, Sun and Holidays Closed (the bookstore is open)|
|Table fee (as of 2022)||Non-members JPY 1500|
|Members JPY 1270|
|Students JPY 1040|
|Branch||Nihon Ki-in Yurakucho Branch|
|Address||9F Tokyo Kotsu Kaikan, 2-10-1 Yurakucho Chiyoda-Ku Tokyo|
|Nearest station||Yurakucho (Y18)|
|Phone||+81 (3) 6269-9133|
|Open playing hours||Everyday 10:00~17:00|
|Table fee (as of 2022)||Non-members JPY 1690|
|Members JPY 1380|
|Students JPY 1150|
Note that the hours may vary based on special events or for year-end holidays.
(For online shoppings, see Buying Equipment / in Japan)
Here is a picture of the shop on Google Street View. 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!).
Dave: I bought a table-top kaya board and stones at Okamura Gobanten in the early 80's. It is still going strong in Komagome. Update: I can confirm that the shop in Komagome is still trading as of March 2015.
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...
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]
colino: This club is situated in a lovely space facing Ikebukuro district, with an awesome view. The Tokyo University Go club students frequently meet here and an English speaking teacher was available both times I visited, he's a very experienced 8 dan.
Social Kien (Kanda)
MarkD: During my January 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.
Vaughn: I can confirm that this Go Salon is still there and running. I visited today (January 5, 2015).
colino: I just visited this club recently (May 2015) and it still there. I played a couple of games with the owner who is very strong. He was very kind and although he speaks no English we managed to understand each other with gestures and my extremely limited Japanese. He showed me his 5 dan certificate from the Nihon-kiin from over 30 years ago and even gave me and my wife some tsumego books. Please give these little place a visit if you're around.
MarkD: Happy to see that the club is still there, looks like they are getting used to seeing Gaijin there ;)
Shimokitazawa Igo Kaikan
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.
Shusaku (Shinjuku, open 24 hours)
Bob McGuigan: Here is a link to a documentary about the go salon "Shusaku" in Kabuchi-cho in Shinjuku:(Link to pirated video deleted) This place has a lot of character but be prepared for people smoking. By the way it is open 24/7 except on Sunday morning for cleaning. The shusaku salon has moved as of 2017. You will find here (last checked 2019): Shinjuku City, Kabukichō, 2-chōme−38−2, 3F
---hnishy:Shusaku Website: http://www9.plala.or.jp/bohno/. The NHK documentary is offered as a video-on-demand https://www.nhk-ondemand.jp/goods/G2016071401SA000/, with some complex registration required.
Vaughn December, 2016: I'm just back from another trip to Tokyo and I had the good fortune to play a game at this salon in Shinjuku. It's on the 3rd floor, many gobans available and there was no smoking as far as I could tell. The family that runs it is very nice and paired me with a gentleman who spoke English. Unfortunately I was unable to stay for more than one game or make a return visit.
There are some Go game cafes in Tokyo.
Igo-Shogi cafe Jurin is a cafe at Nishi-Shinbashi where you can play board games: Go, Shogi, backgammon etc.
Yushima Go cafe & bar(Japanese) ( Some English info) is a Go cafe with welcoming atmosphere and a decent drink selection, often open later than many other salons. Their opening hour is from 1p.m. to 10p.m. Address: Bunkyo-ku Yushima 3-25-11, second floor. A couple of minutes from Yushima Station (Tokyo Metro, C13) - a short walk from Ueno Park.
(added by an IP user in 2019):I visited several go salons and found this place was the best. everyone is extremely friendly and one of the staff speaks fluent English. I was very surprised to find most of the players there were very young (I mean younger than other go salons). The owner is 29 years old and his wife is a bit younger. Both of them are very friendly and are very strong go players too. I ended up to visit Yushima Go Cafe 5 times during my one week stay in Tokyo!
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! :-)
|Branch||Nihon Kiin Chubu Branch|
|Address||1-19 Shumoku-cho, Higashi-ku, Nagoya, Aichi|
|Nearest station||Takaoka (S06, Nagoya Metro)|
|Phone||+81 (52) 951-5588|
|Open playing hours||Tue - Fri 10:00 - 21:00, Sat & Sun 10:00 - 19:00|
|Monday Closed (the bookstore is open)|
|Table fee (as of 2022)||Adults JPY 1400|
|Students, Women, Elders over 64, Foreigners JPY 900|
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 club limited to subscription members. They run another club open for the public near the branch.
|Branch||Umeda Igo Salon|
|Address||9F Kita-Hankyu bldg. 1-4-8 Shibata, Kita-ku, Osaka|
|Nearest station||Umeda (HK-01, Hankyu)|
|Phone||+81 (6) 6147-7778|
|Open playing hours||Monday to Saturday 10:00~18:00|
|Sunday Closed (the bookstore is open)|
|Table fee (as of 2022)||Adults JPY 1400|
|Students JPY 1100|
|Branch||Kansai Kiin Igo Salon|
|Address||5F Kitahama-Icchome Heiwa bldg. 1-1-14 Kitahama, Chuo-ku, Osaka|
|Nearest station||Kitahama (KH02, Keihan and K14, Metro)|
|Phone||+81 (6) 6231-1589|
|Open playing hours||Mon, Tue, Thu, Fri 12:00~17:30 Sat 12:00~18:30|
|Fri, Sun, Holidays Closed|
|Table fee (as of 2022)||Men JPY 1650 Women JPY 1320|
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.
(Zcacrgw): The island is visitable on bicycle as part of the Shimanami-Kaido route - there's a bunch of other interesting stuff to see on route. See http://www.go-shimanami.jp/global/english/guide/ (dead link). Also, Shusaku's grave is in the cemetery opposite. They say you become two stones stronger if you touch it, but based on my recent KGS results, it doesn't work.
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.
The Nihon-Kiin Hokkaido headquarters are based in Sapporo and have a large go playing hall. They're in the 6th floor of the building adjacent to the park with the red brick government offices about 5 blocks or so from the station - see the map
There's a nice Go salon in Kanazawa just opposite Noda JHS - it's about a 5-10 minute walk from the Teramachi temple area and about 30 mins walk from the central castle and garden area - which are well worth seeing.
There's the opportunity to play go in the park at Akashi. There's also a bunch of tables and equipment in the Peace Park in Hiroshima but the locals in Akashi seem a lot friendlier.