[Hidden Wonders of Japan] 5-Crown Sota Fujii plays ‘Human Shogi’ on Mount Maizuru

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The city of Tendo in Yamagata Prefecture is famous for shogi, which is sometimes known as Japanese chess. For one, it is the largest producer of flat wooden shogi pieces in Japan.

On April 17, the city held its annual spectacle, a game of human shogi with forty men and women dressed in traditional kimono, armor and helmets from the samurai era. Each played the role of a shogi room.

Master Shogi Sota Fujii, who has 5 major shogi titles, Osho (king), Ryuo (Dragon King), Oh (throne), Eiou (wise king), and Kisei (divine player), faced off in a fierce battle against his rival Daichi Sasaki, who holds the rank of sixth dan. It was the first time the event had been held in 3 years, following the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

With cherry blossoms in full bloom, the Tendo human shogi game board was set up on a 15-meter square on top of Mount Maizuru in the city.

The five-title Fujii started the match by shouting, “Let’s have a fair fight!” There are special rules in human Tendo shogi. Competitors must move each piece at least once during the game, while pronouncing their movements in the language of samurai.

Early in the game, with the pieces barely moving from their initial positions, Fujii launched an aggressive move. Sasaki, six dan, shouted to the crowd, “A bit fast, don’t you think?”. Laughter breaks out in the audience.

After much effort to maneuver all the human pieces, Fujii won the match in the 130th move for checkmate.

The venue is a frequent venue for the game’s major title matches, as well as the annual human shogi match.

After the match, five-timer Fujii was excited about the experience and said, “The cherry blossoms are in full bloom and the weather is nice. It was a great experience ー I want to come back for the next title match.

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(Read the article in Japanese at this link.)

Author: The Sankei Shimbun

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