Kita Fumiko

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Kita Fumiko (喜多文子)

Kita Fumiko (喜多文子, nee Shiba Fumi 司馬 文, 1875-1950) was a Japanese, female professional Honorary 8-dan. She was adopted by the strongest female player of the prior generation, Hayashi Sano, and rose to become the strongest female player of her generation. She was one of the primary forces in the unification of Japanese go and is regarded as the the mother of women’s go and mother of modern go. Nearly all Japanese female professional go players prior to World War II were students of Kita Fumiko.

Hayashi Sano was a member of the Hayashi go house who was one of the few Meiji-era woman Go players. She was the first Meiji-era woman to reach the rank of 4-dan. A good story about a battle of wills between Sano and her daughter Fumi can be found in the essay The Art of Resigning contained in Nakayama Noriyuki's book The Treasure Chest Enigma.

Fumiko was awarded 1-dan in 1889 at the Hoensha. She married the Noh actor Kita Roppeita (1874–1971) in 1895. They had no biological children. Fumiko returned to go in 1907, at the urging of her husband. She became 4-dan in 1907, 5-dan in 1921, 6-dan in 1938, 7-dan posthumously in 1950. In 1924, she played an important role in the unification of Japanese go through the founding of the Nihon Ki-in. Having taken lessons from Honinbo Shuei, Honinbo Shusai, and Nakagawa Kamesaburo, she maintained good relations with all three, she could bring the rival factions together.

She also played a motherly and matchmaking role to many of the younger professionals. For example, she looked after the teenaged Go Seigen when he first arrived in Japan, including taking him to the doctor soon after. She often visited him when he was hospitalized in 1940. And in 1942, she and her husband acted as matchmaker when Go married Nakahara Kazuko.

In 1973, she was awarded Honorary 8-dan. In 2013 she was inducted into the Nihon Ki-in Hall of Fame.


All of her pupils were girls.


Kita's book Tsumego: new research (詰碁の新研究, 1935) can be read online at [ext] the Japan National Diet Library digital collection. It was the first Go book authored by a female professional. Contains problems from Gokyo Shumyo and Gokyo Seimyo, life and death problems from practical play and some of her own compositions.


Kita Fumiko last edited by 2603:9001:6e0b:2694 on December 1, 2023 - 03:06
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