Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Cultural Trip to Kyoto

We had a group trip to Kyoto for Sunday & Monday.

On Sunday we started with a hike up the mountain at Fushimi-Inari (10,000 gates).

In the afternoon, we went to play a friendship match with some Japanese players on the outskirts of Kyoto.  The Japanese players there ranged in age from 8 years old to 94 years old!  Shawn got to play the 94-year-old.  My first match was with Mihoko-san, who graciously gave me a fan.

She is friends with Hyodo-san (our tour guide to Koya-san) and I believe she will be at the Japan Go Congress too.

My second match was with Yoshi-san.

He's a tour guide for foreigners visiting Kyoto, so his English is excellent.  He gave me his business card.  On the back is a Buddhist phrase that means "one moment, one encounter" along with his own poetic English interpretation.

If you're looking for a tour guide in Kyoto, look him up!

After dinner, a few of us visited a bar that was recently opened by a 7 dan player who visited our camp earlier.  He crushed me (giving 3 stones) while mostly tending bar.  It was basically a closet (there's not much more to the place than what you can see in the photos).  But how great to have a place like this near by?  (Neil, take note!)

He served us snacks along with our beers.  First some pretzel bits (some of which were inexplicably green), then some cheese (Matt and I had just been talking over our ramen dinner about having an IPA and some cheese when we go home), and finally some "pizza potatoes", which are sort of a cross between french fries and potato chips and which he said were generally considered snacks for kids.

On Monday we visited three sites -- the Kiyomizudera Temple:

The Kinkaku-Ji (Golden Pavilion):

and, most importantly, the Jakkoji (Honinbo Temple).  This is where the Honinbo house (of Go) originated.  It was beautiful and drenched in Go history.  This delightful monk explained the history to us:

The current Honinbo title holder is required to visit the temple every year.  Right now, that's Iyama Yuta.  He pointed at Winnie and said that's where Iyama Yuta always sits.  Li-sensei translated into Chinese and English for us, with an assist by Hyodo-san:

The temple was beautiful, with immaculate tatami mat floors:

low ceilings:

stunning shoji:

and peaceful gardens:

Here I am next to an old board in an alcove:

Our chief monk guide (honorary 5 dan) shows us the wall of fame:  the names of all the Honinbos.

On the left are the original, hereditary Honinbos, including Shusaku.  On the right are the modern Honinbos who had to win their titles, including many familiar luminaries.

They had some old and famous Go artifacts on display:

My favorite part was the main playing room, where the Honinbo title matches are held:

The cushions were really comfortable.  And look at the board!

Winnie was so excited:

Here are Winnie and William posing at the board.  Winnie couldn't help but try to figure out the next move of the game that was on display.  Everyone had to keep reminding her that it was *not* ok to add stones to the board.  :)

The audience in awe:

Inside the main playing room, there were these awesome sliding doors with a dragon on them:

When you close the doors, you get the full picture:

It was amazing to be there, and I really appreciated the full tour, but I'd love to go back sometime when it's empty and quiet, which I think is how that space should be appreciated.


  1. Noted! It has been a lot of fun following your journey, thank you for these posts!

  2. Thanks for the wonderful posts.