From a general discussion of Material Goban.
oldfrog: I have seen go equipment dealers with what they call "shin-kaya" (imitation kaya) gobans which are very affordable... does anyone know exactly what this "shin-kaya" is, what type of wood, and what are its properties...how would it compare to the other types of wood available?
Bob McGuigan: "Shin kaya" literally is "new kaya" but actually means "imitation kaya". It is spruce wood. It is popular because it somewhat resembles kaya in appearance and straight-grain on the top board face is relatively cheap. Compared with kaya, shin kaya does not have the same "click" sound when a stone is played that some players find desirable. Also the grain is coarser and the color not as bright as genuine kaya. In price shin kaya has been comparable to katsura, which is probably the most commonly used wood for traditional boards. Katsura is a darker tan color, rather than a yellow-gold shade, and katsura boards almost never are made with straight grain on the top face. Other woods that have been used for go boards include various kinds of cedars (hiba, taihi, hinoki), and cypress and ginkgo. These tend to have a natural yellow color and have different qualities as far as the actual play of a stone is concerned. Traditionally, in Japan, a proper sound when the stone is played and wood that is neither too hard nor too soft are desirable qualities.
Velobici: It is my understanding that "shin-kaya" is Alaskan White Spruce which is not the same as Sitka Spruce which also grows in Alaska.
ph1234k?: Shin kaya has also been made of Tibetan Spruce. Most reputable dealers will include the exact type of wood used for their Shin Kaya boards.