The 30th WAGC is a big opportunity for the local community in Fukuroi to organize go events simultaneously to the main tournament for fans, foreign and domestic.
At the same time that the second round started, a Go Symposium was held in order to inform the general public of the benefits of playing go as well as to explore possibilities on how to further spread go in Japan.
The panel of experts on stage consisted of three man and two women, each panel member took about 5 minutes to explain to the people gathered why they thought go was special and why people would benefit from playing the game.
The mayor of Fukuroishi Mr. Harada is a big go fan himself. He did stress, though, that in his opinion other games like Shogi and Othello should be combined as a means to build a better society and sense of community.
“Go is not only a great game it is a terrific means to bring people together, young as well as old.”
Mr. Matsuoka president of the Prefectural Igo Friendship Association described that in his experience teaching children the game of go the pupils would result in developing better posture, correct manners and a general sharpness in their thinking. He had brought with him a thank you letter of one of his students which was read out loud. “This one letter makes it all worthwhile for me, and please note the polite “arigatougozaimashita” (= thank you very much) at the end of the letter. A fitting end for both, a game of go as well as a letter!”
Mrs. Shigeno, professional 2 dan at the Nagoya branch of the Nihon ki-in told the audience about her time in Europe where she spend about 10 years living in Italy. She’s visited over 30 countries in order to teach people, children and adults alike, about go. In her own words: “It is not that I’m proficient in many languages but when playing go with people, no matter what country they’re from, I really feel a connection, the game itself is a sufficient means of communicating. That in its own right makes go the most wonderful game I know.”
Ms. Meien, formerly was a 2 dan professional in China but is now living in Japan and running a go school. She talked quite frankly about the situation of go in Japan. “I was so glad a couple of years back when I finally managed to gather about 50 children who were eager to learn more about the game that I contacted my hometown in China to tell them the news. It really came as a bit of a shock, though, when I was told that their local children’s go club had well over a thousand members! Although Go originally is a Chinese game at one time it had lost popularity in China and Korea as well. During the second half of the 20th century go became popular in my home country again and I think that Japanese players have helped to establish that. I feel that now is the time to focus back on Japan itself again to regain the level of popularity it once enjoyed. I would very much like to be a part of the effort!
Prof. Tanioka of the Osaka University of Commerce and a board games enthusiast with an extensive collection and vast knowledge of games had the following to add to Ms. Meien’s words.
“The ranking system in Japan is a bit mild compared to that of other countries. If you are about 5 dan in Japan than chances are that you are only about 1-2 dan in Europe. In Korea, Japanese dans are famous for being inflated and that they do not correctly reflect the holder’s actual strength, compared to the Korean rating system, that is.
I think that we owe this dan inflation to Genan Inseki who passed away exactly 150 years ago this year. Genan Inseki found himself with a lack of funds and therefor decided to sell a small mountain of dan-diplomas when he was in Nagasaki in order to get himself back on his feet again. It may sound funny but I think he’s the culprit who started it all!
Later on there the audience had the chance to ask go related questions to the panel. One lady asked what kind of go terms where used internationally. Yuki Shigeno answered this by explaining that a lot of Japanese go terms were in common use but that English translations were used, too. She further pointed out that now China, Korea and Japan all have agreed to work together more and support the IGF the international name of the game was automatically decided as IGF stands for International Go Federation.