Learning Chinese or Japanese for go

Hello everyone, this is my first post!

Currently there is already plethora of different go books in English so we have enough learning materials, but because the eastern languages is still the primal source of go materials I was thinking about starting to learn one of those. This would be a new way to get into beauty of go and because I really enjoy learning the languages this combination of two interests would additionally motivate me to stay committed to it.

I am pretty sure some of you have learnt one of the eastern languages to be able to follow the multitude of different eastern resources to improve at go. Could you recommend any resources for learning Chinese or Japanese to be able to start (after year or two) with websites such as weiqitv? Particularly for go?


There’s a series of books called “Just enough Japanese” that are available through SmartGo books for instance by Richard Hunter.

This is the sensei library page for the first volume


I’m enjoying bits of the first one so far, kind of focused on things you might need to understand some of the things that might be in a tsumego book for instance


Welcome to the forums!

A similar question was asked in this thread, so the responses there may also be helpful:


Thanks a lot! I have also found in SmartGo books “A Dictionary of Japanese and English Go Terms” from “The Go Player’s Almanac” by Richard Bozulich, which is not as good as “Just enough Japanese” because it doesn’t have any links to the website with pronunciation and strokes, but maybe some of you will also find useful.


This is kind of crazy, committing to learning one of the Asian languages that takes many years to learn properly only for go.

But in terms of resources I don’t think you need any for go specifically. You need to learn the language first and only then learn those very few go expressions, I’d think. If you like learning languages you probably already have preferred way of learning.

If you manage to do it, come to the chat and teach us too!

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Compare studying a language like Japanese or Chinese to studying the game of go. The game also demands years to learn properly, but it’s a much narrower part of East Asian culture, and learning a language is probably much more practically useful.

I suspect that the original poster may have other motivation and interest in learning an East Asian language in general. Learning a language does really open oneself up to a whole new culture. I don’t think it’s crazy to pick which language one learns next based on one’s other interests.

I envy those who have the motivation and ability to pick up new languages. Unfortunately, I don’t think that drive and talent is so easily transferable.

Japanese subtitles word frequency list

Just remember pronunciation and translation of the first 1000 words and you will understand 80% of anything you hear
Easy explanation:

I’m inclined to agree with @S_Alexander. If improving your go game is your main motivation for learning one of the languages, you’re going to have a really rough time and I’d guess not be very likely to succeed.

With that being said, there are many many excellent benefits to learning a language. Learning Chinese was one of the best things that has ever happened in my life. I would like to emphasize that environment is extremely important when learning a new language. You need to force yourself to use the language. This is especially true if going from a non-tonal language like English to a tonal language like Chinese. It’s likely not practical to move to China or Japan for most people, but you could seek out native speakers in your area and practice having conversations with them.

Good luck with your language learning journey, and keep us posted on your progress :slight_smile:


If you want to learn the language just for studying go, you’re definitely better off studying the game itself instead. Note that both Chinese and Japanese use a huge number of characters to write, thus being able to read an average book will require you to learn at least about a 1000 characters for Japanese, and double that for Chinese (and even then you’ll regularly encounter ones you don’t know).

In that regard, Korean would be the language you should go for, since it has an alphabet and is therefore a lot easier to read. But then there is the second part of learning the language: you need to learn the grammar and the vocabulary, which will also take a lot of time. It is not like learning a Germanic or Roman language, where many words are similar to English ones and where the grammar has a roughly similar structure. It’s completely different!

However, you say that you enjoy learning languages, so then I 100% recommend learning an East-Asian one. It’s a lot of fun and something totally different than other languages.


I also only realised that the Nihon Kiin has a go books app on the Apple App Store. (Maybe someone else can check android?)

The app is free and it allows in app purchases of books and monthly/weekly go articles. There is a beginners book in English for about €1, and what seems to be the same book but split into two parts in Spanish for free. Otherwise the rest is in Japanese. (Well the menus are in English for me)

You can preview the first page or cover/table of contents of each book/issue.

It seems to give you a free article from 2011 to start off with in your library.

It has links to news and Go news on their website.

It was supposed to do a Kifu a day to look and play through but that might have stopped in 2018, at least it hasn’t updated for me.

Just thought it might interest people.

Oh and I just noticed what look like pdfs have playable playable diagrams in them, like back forward arrows etc.