Japanese Go players in Rome

October 14, 2006

On Saturday 7 October a group of 33 Japanese go players from a Nagoya go club came to visit Rome and asked to play go with local players. They were lead by Baba Shigeru, 9 dan professional, and Shigeno Yuki, 2 dan professional and Secretary to the International Go Federation and assisted by Oka Isamu, from the go club of Pisa.

The go club of Rome took care of the local organisation of the event and of the subsequent dinner.

We were very lucky to obtain the support of the Japanese Cultural Institute in Rome, thanks to its Vice-Director, Omori Hiroshi, a go player himself.


The Institute is really beautiful, situated in one of the greenest area of Rome (close to Villa Borghese) and graced by an astounding Japanese-style garden. A truly incredible setting for this goodwill meeting.One of the poetic names that the Japanese gave to go is “Shudan”, that means “Hands talk”. A beautiful metaphor of how this game allows people of different languages, cultures, races, religions, to share and dialogue in peace and respecting one another. Having fun in the process…

japanese4.jpgThe talk of hands started Friday night at the hotel of our guests. They let us know that they were a little tired, having just come from a two-days excursion to Napoli, Sorrento and Pompei, so they prevented us that the playing wouldn’t last long in the night.
Now, you must know that another poetic name of go is “Ranka”, that means “Rotted handle”: the legend goes that two woodcutters working in a forest decided to have a short rest and play a quick game of go. When they finished they reached for they axes only to find that the wooden handles had rotted during the years spent playing… Another version of this legend is reported here.
All this to say that when I left to go back home at 1:30 in the morning, everybody was still there playing…

The “official” event was on Saturday afternoon. Omori-san had arranged things in the theatre of the Institute, that offered an incredible view.


japanese1.jpgThe go club of Rome, beside having brought the necessary refreshments (you know, playing go makes you thirsty…), fielded a team of 23 players, with two guest players from Napoli, Carlo Nitsch 1 dan and Luca Esposito 6 kyu.

Needless to say, we all had a great time. No better way to start a friendship than a couple of games of go.

japanese5.jpgBaba 9 dan pro and Shigeno 2 dan pro gave running commentaries on games, so that everybody got at least two stones stronger… 🙂

Then we all went to a traditional pizzeria-trattoria overlooking the Tevere river. After having gone through the formality of eating, gobans and stones appeared again and playing was seamlessly resumed.

japanese6.jpg I started a conversation with three Japanese gentlemen in a mix of Italian, Japanese, Spanish, English and gestures (hand talk again…). The subjects? Weeeell… Gina Lollobrigida, Sophia Loren, Romolus and Remo, Julius Ceasar…

A beautiful experience. I don’t know how, but Paolo Scattini stole from Baba Sensei the promise to bring back the whole group next year.

See you all next October, then!

To see more pictures, click on the film looplet below:

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One Response to “Japanese Go players in Rome”

  1. Wiles Says:

    E’ raro vedere i due presidenti di Agi e Figg insieme, speriamo sia un buon segno per il futuro 🙂

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