Interest in Go and Connections to CJK Cultures

It seems that a lot of people that are interested in Go tend to also have some sort of connection and/or affinity to Chinese, Japanese, and/or Korean (CJK) cultures, which are traditionally and historically associated with Go. Hence, I wanted to ask some questions via this thread.

Do you have any connection to the CJK cultures?

  • Yes
  • No

0 voters

How are you connected to the CJK cultures?

  • Ethnically and/or racially identify as a CJK person
  • Nationality from CJK country(s)
  • Born in a CJK country
  • Lived in CJK country(s)
  • Significant personal relationship(s) with CJK person(s)
  • Competency in CJK language(s)
  • Educational/professional connections to CJK country/company(s)
  • Strong interest in popular media from CJK culture(s)
  • Other personal connections to CJK culture(s)
  • None of the above

0 voters

For privacy, I’ve made the polls anonymous. However, if you would like to share, please feel free to reply in a comment.

In particular, I would be interested to hear whether and how such a connection played a role in introducing you to Go, and how people that have no connections to CJK cultures were ultimately introduced to Go.


I’m not exactly sure what counts as a connection here. I can’t now quite remember if my interest in Japanese culture predated my interest in Go or not but I guess they developed at around the same time. I’m not sure if “interest in Japanese culture” is a connection though. I thought not but then I saw the popular media one and had my doubts.


I tried to learn Go because I tried to learn Japanese because I tried to learn English because I hasn’t learned English in school because I tried German in school because my mom learned German in her school.


I think I chose to play Go as a game to play with my girlfriend that neither of us knew yet. Coincidentally she’s Japanese, and I met her while travelling there, having chosen Japan because I decided in high school to learn a language completely different than any European one, Japanese being more or less randomly chosen at that time.

However, I don’t think I chose Go because of its relation to CJK, even though there is a strong historical relation. I chose it because I had read about it before, liking abstract, strategical and mathematical games, but never tried it out. I’m not sure, but it might even be that I wasn’t really aware of the origin of Go.

Interestingly enough, at that time I was mostly intrigued by shogi, which I played quite obsessively the months before and during my first trip to Japan.


How are you connected to the CJK cultures:

  • Strong interest in popular media from Japan
  • Other: Strong interest in the Japanese Language (couldn’t check “Competency” because I don’t have it yet)

I learned about go shortly after learning about shogi if I recall correctly; it was a decade ago or so, so that was before I had any particular interest in CJK cultures. I know I learned of Shogi from Hidetchi’s Youtube videos (who in English-speaking countries didn’t, if they learned Shogi?) as they were first coming out, and I’m guessing Youtube recommended me a go video? I think that was what happened. It was a while before Go took over Shogi, though. I do remember this channel being one of the first if not the first I saw on go.


I was going to answer “no” to the first poll, but I looked at the options in the second, and one applied, so I answered “yes” since the poster of the first poll was so kind as to give us a list in the second poll of what counted as “connection to CJK culture” for the purposes of this thread. :smiley:


i’m Japanese-American (born in Japan, grew up in the USA)
i can’t remember my first introduction to Go, but when i was a teenager i bought a little magnetic goban at Kinokuniya in the Mitsuwa mall on one of the road trips my mom would take us to stock up on Japanese food. i must have heard about the game somewhere and wanted to try (i don’t think it was HNG because i only watched Ghibli movies and no anime TV) but it didn’t really stick until a lot later. i still have the goban though

funny i never learned shogi. been trying to learn it recently, but so far i prefer Go


Go > shogi & xiangqi > chess > Risk & Settlers of Catan


Go > Arimaa > Shogi > Xianqi = Orthochess


@Vsotvep, and @Samraku: what about backgammon, bridge, Othello, phutball, Calvinball, Diplomacy?


I am Chinese by race (but not nationality), fluent in Mandarin and practise the culture to some extent, but I actually discovered chess as a child and only picked up Go much later.


My interest on CJK cultures came much later as when I learned the game.
[shogi xiangqi chess Risk & Settlers of Catan ]=Nothing to compare


No strong opinions on them, though none of them can really challenge even chess/xianqi in my list.


I’m not of Asian descent. My interest in CJK culture has been fairly broad, but not deep, and not much related to pop culture. So to check that item off in the survey would be quite a stretch I think.

My introduction to go came with Trevanian’s trashy but entertaining novel Shibumi back in the early eighties. Oddly enough, the novel tells you virtually nothing about how the game is actually played, yet somehow it conveyed to me the game’s philosophical and aesthetic appeal. Something like eighteen years would pass before I began playing. It was well worth the wait.


In which cultures are you more interested?

  • Japanese
  • Chinese
  • Korean
  • Other

0 voters



I came upon Go because I was googling for a new hobby, I wanted something like a board game, something preferably mental, but chess never appealed to me, too much monarchy. I liked the idea of Go from the moment I saw the description and a goban, before going into the from where and stuff.


That’s the only thing I googled from this whole thread. I see trashy, I investigate. :woman_shrugging:

P.P.S. I picked up Korean because I wanted to learn a completely new language, not related to any I knew. Sister had dibs on Chinese, so I googled clips on YT of others. I heard Korean, I liked how it sounded instantly, and that was it.
I guess I see a pattern there.


I sometimes wonder how many players took up the game because of brief scenes in films like A Beautiful Mind. I would probably have dismissed it as a kind of glorified checkers, and I imagine this to be a very common misconception.

On the other hand, I’m pretty sure that the first go image I saw involved a position from an 1851 castle go match between Shusaku and the amateur Sekiyama Sendaiu. It was set up on a board and photographed for the cover of Charles Matthews’ book Teach Yourself Go. It beautifully illustrates that quest for balance that characterises the game; clusters of intense activity separated by vast unclaimed expanses. If it doesn’t produce a love at first sight reaction from a natural go enthusiast, I don’t know what it would take.


I am interested in japanese culture: calligraphy, art, crafting, comics, movies, food, some literature.
I don’t study any of them but I love japanese stuff.

My interest in go dates way before my interest in japanese stuff or perhaps it could have been a seed: a nice drawing of two ancient well dressed japanese gentlemen playing Go charmed me from the pages of a book when I was a child.
I had to wait forty years to play a game though. :grin:

I am interested in chinese an korean culture too.
During lockdown my wife discovered kdramas and I must say that I really like the sound of korean language. Very nice looking writing too.
I see no point in learning korean in my 50ies, but I am tempted. :grin:


I play Go and Shogi, and I am learning Chinese, Japanese and Korean for brain training (because I read that those languages are considered hard for Westerners). Other than that I have no connection whatsoever to East Asia.

However… those interests take a LOT of time, and you come across many unrelated things from East Asia on the way.

In my opinion anime, K-pop et c are the least interesting things about China, Taiwan, Japan and the Koreas. I can spend an infinite amount of time reading about the history and present state of China and looking at documentaries before anime even appears on the radar.


Well, kpop and kdramas are closely related to modern Korean history. Liking them is a matter of taste, but they are a very revealing product of their time.

I don’t know enough about Chinese and Japanese comparable products, but I’d guess they have similarities in that regard.