By Peter Schumer
Beautifully organized, the recent Osaka Go Camp drew about 35 “campers” from nearly a dozen countries. Most of the instruction was in English, but there was a good bit of Japanese, French, and German mixed in amongst us and it made for quite an international and festive feeling.
Though ages ranged from mid-teens to early 70′s and our ranks ran the gamut from 20 kyu up to 7 dan, everyone got along really well and seemed genuinely friendly and supportive of one another. Every day there was a scheduled match followed by professional game reviews, several lectures, and simuls with pros.
One of the highlights was a visit and simultaneous games with Yuki Satoshi, currently Judan. We also played lots of friendship matches with various local go clubs and go students of all ages. The most fun for me was a series of games with students at the Kansai Kiin who ranged in age from 7 to 12 but who were all at least 2 dan in strength. It was the one group that had a winning record against us.
There were also many go-related sightseeing trips to Kyoto, Nara, Innoshima, Hiroshima, and the beautiful island of Miyajima. In Innoshima, we visited the Shusaku Museum and memorial site, where we learned that there are over 2000 local go players in a town of just 20,000, and it seemed that a good percentage of them showed up to test our go prowess. Two go boards at the Shusaku museum (left) were especially interesting: the one on the right is Go Seigen’s retirement board and stones, celebrating 70 years of an outstanding professional career in Japan, while the older board on the left belonged to Shusaku and was given to him by his patron Lord Asano (watch for Jan Engelhardt’s report on the Innoshima visit in an upcoming EJ).
After camp ended, I had a few extra days for travel. One day I spent visiting the Shinto grand shrines in Ise, and my last full travel day was to Uji, a lovely small town just south of Kyoto. It is best known for growing arguably the best green tea in Japan and for several beautiful Buddhist temples, especially the Byodo-In which contains the famous Phoenix Hall. Currently it is being restored and so was covered up, but fortunately I’d seen it on a previous visit. This short-lived disappointment propelled me to walk farther along the Uji River until I came to the Tale of Genji Museum. The last ten chapters of this classic of Japanese literature take place in Uji and so the museum largely focuses on them, but there are a couple of important scenes where go plays a significant role and luckily one of the life-sized displays (top right) was of such a scene (photo).
- A longtime local go organizer, Schumer founded the Vermont Go Club.