American Go E-Journal

The Go Congress Remembers Yoshi Sawada

Friday August 5, 2011

At a memorial set up for Yoshi Sawada – the popular go player and translator who died unexpectedly in late February – attendees at the 2011 U.S. Go Congress shared their memories. Here’s a selection:

I’ll miss his witty banter with Maeda, I’ll miss the energy and joy he brought to a room.
- Anonymous

He was always so happy, and it made me happy to see him. The Congress just is not the same without him. - Anonymous

With his warm heart and experience he often helped many of us from Japan who sometimes felt unfamiliar traveling abroad.
-    Miyoko Miyama

His kindness and generosity was overflowing. He was always there with a broad smile and welcome.
- None C. Redmond

He radiated sunny good humor and cheer. I wish I had been able to play with him longer.
- Chris Scammon

He loved go, but he didn’t just keep it to himself – he shared it with everyone, along with his joyful and generous spirit.
- Roy Laird

Yoshi was always a bright spot in our day, helpful and generous with his laughter.
- Steve and Eileen Barberi

Yoshi made Maeda’s lectures great fun. Rock-paper-scissors. You are missed dude.
- Frank B

Yoshi Sawada: A Brief Biographical Sketch
by Steve Burrall
Yoshi Sawada was born in 1950 in the Belgian Congo while his father was stationed there working for the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. They moved to Belgium and then back to Japan where he attended elementary school and high school, although he attended junior high in Geneva.

His father was a very strong amateur go player and though Yoshi often watched his father play, he was not allowed to touch go equipment and did not actually play go while growing up.

After attending college in France, he went to work for the Japanese Foreign Ministry in Paris, where he began playing go as well as developing expert golfing skills. A few years later he came to the U.S. where he nearly became a professional golfer.

Shuttling back to Japan in the off-seasons allowed Yoshi to take lessons from professional go players and mingle with top pros like Ishida, Rin and the Kobayashis. He ended up in Sacramento helping establish the Japanese American Community Center and worked there until Proposition 13 eliminated its funding. During those years he received his 1 dan and 3 dan diplomas from the Nihon Kiin.

During the early ‘80s he trained personnel for Furrow’s Hardware and his legendary generosity led to his next career change. After completing an arduous task as a favor to a Japanese businessman while at Furrow’s, he soon had a hectic career as a highly sought-after international business consultant. He was also a professional tennis instructor at the Laguna Racquet Club.

- this is an edited version of the biography Burrall wrote for the Sacramento Go Club newsletter in 1998; photos by Chris Garlock (top right) and Debbie Siemon (bottom left)

Share