Jowa / Discussion

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Blake: Originally named Todani. Jowa was named heir to the Honinbo title in 1819 and succeeded in 1827. He is thought to have achieved his meijin title largely through politicking, because he had never played a game against any of the other three people who were seeking the title at that time: SenchiII, Inoue Genan Inseki, and Hayashi Genbi.[1] John Fairbairn quotes Honinbo Shuho from Hoen Shinpo: "If a person's art reaches the ultimate, we call him a sage. Dosaku and Jowa are the go sages par excellence."[2]

Tim Brent: Jowa did play Genan in 1815 on several occasions, when Genan was known as Hattori Rittetsu.

John F. Jowa played Genan many times over many years (and the others). Blake's comment, I'm sure, is meant to indicate that they didn't play at the appropriate grades.

YM?: I read in a book that Jowa wasn't a very good player from the start and only achieved 1 dan when he was 21. His Go skills suddenly improved a lot when one day, after losing a match, he stayed overnight in an old man's house deep in the forest on his way home. This old man gave him a four-handicap (his master only gave him 3 handicap). Not to be rude Jowa accepted it. In the end, he was shocked to see that all his stones had been captured. Well, even though he suddenly woke up later and found out that this was only a dream, he reviewed the game and it was true that all his stones had been captured. After this dream he became the good player that today we all know him to have been. This source is taken from: [ext] (Visit the site if you understand Chinese.)

If any one knows about this game please e-mail me at

John F. This is not the version I've seen in Japanese. There, Jowa (on his way to Musashi from Edo) after a dispiriting performance against Nagasaka, gets lost at night, sees a light, goes looking for somewhere to stay and ends up in a cottage with a white-bearded old man. There is a go board, but Jowa (actually still called Matsunosuke) is surprised to see both bowls contain white stones. They play. Then the old man shouts, "Don't you know what the score is?" whereupon Jowa wakes up at the side of the road. This story obviously is a variation of the Wang the Firewood Collector story from Tang China, which was well known in Japan from the Konjaku Monogatari. Jowa chose never to deny it, though, in the same way that he cultivated an air of mystery about his origins. Insofar as it may be based on a smidgeon of truth, Jowa was probably obsessed at the time with his failure to make inroads when taking White against Nagasaka.

Among quite a few errors elsewhere here, Jowa was already 1-dan at 16. This was long ago stated in Zain Danso but we now have a newly discovered game record to prove it (1802). At the time of his match with Nagasaka he is reckoned as 3d. Although Nagasaka (an amateur) was labelled as 2d he was rated as 5 or 6d in reality. It is surmised that Jowa could not afford the fee for a higher diploma, and of course the break caused by his fish-shop apprenticeship came around this time.

There is no game from the above story, but the next game with Nagasaka, where he started to turn the tide, was Game 11 in their series, which spanned a year.

kokiri (who wrote the main body of text above) John - I was wary of abusing any of the english language sources available and so tried to use them only to check some facts and that my reading of the Japanese was correct. As a result, for example, I made no mention of your work on Jowa's name as it was not mentioned in any of the sources that I used. I have ammended the above to at least refer to it - I hope that is OK.

Elsewhere, any errors are my own and I am grateful to you for pointing any out.

There is one thing I am interested in that a combination of my japanese and my source material is not good enough to answer. Charles Matthews refers to Nagasaka Inosuke as being a pupil of the yasui school, but I, in accordance, to your reference above understood him to be an amateur. I assume that this meant that he had studied in the yasui family but returned to 'normal' life. Is this correct and could you provide any other context? Thanks for your comments.

John F. Nagasaka was a spear instructor, and as a samurai had to go to Edo with his daimyo for extended stays. At that time the Yasuis were very prosperous (more so than the Honinbos) because, under Yasui Senchi Senkaku, they had forsaken the glory of the Meijin-Godokoro in favour of teaching. They had a huge number of "pupils", so in modern terms this really meant nothing more than being a club member. This was also a time of a sudden rise in commercialisation in Japan, and many "pupils", especialy the temporarily resident samurais, would buy diplomas so that they could use them for status and profit on their return to their native province.

Awa no Yonezo (Yonezo of Awaji), Hama no Genkichi (Genkichi of Hamamatsu), etc were in a similar mould, though some descended to gambling go rather than teaching.

anonymous: A big question: He died 1847 and i find somewhere that Gennan Inseki applied for meijin in 1840 but has not enough luck with Shuwa- but why he could even apllied for meijin when Jowa still was alive?And how he was forced to quit from meijin?What was his status after retirement? @xela: question was not when and why(althought why is not so sure please read JohnF articles about how Jowa became meijin) Jowa retired,but how Gennan could applied for meijin-i hope You see the differnece.

anonymous II: see the section titled Controversy on the main page.

xela: Not such a big question. Read the main page again: you'll find when Jowa retired as meijin, and why.

John F. said: "Insofar as it may be based on a smidgeon of truth, Jowa was probably obsessed at the time with his failure to make inroads when taking White against Nagasaka." From my point of view Jowa was doing quite well against Nagasaka in their 21 game match.After 12 games he forced handicap to sen-ai-sen and after 9 more games he put Nagasaka on kadoban(he was winning 6-3).On white he was doing quite well winning one and losing 2(one of these was lost by 1 point).On other hand he was in that match doing better on white than Nagasaka(he scored 1/3, Nagasaka scored 5/18). For reference Honinbo Doetsu needed 15 games( i dont count first game, coz of rumor it was prearranged) to force handicap to sen-ai-sen against Yasui Sanchi.

[1] According to Appreciating Famous Games by Shuzo Ohira 9p.
[2] [ext] (archived at [ext]

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Jowa / Discussion last edited by on October 26, 2017 - 01:06
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