I see some resources online but mostly outdated. I am traveling to Tokyo in mid-May and will stay the entire 10 days in the Tokyo area. I will have some time to pursue my newest passion, when not watching sumo, visiting with friends or indulgently devouring the finest city for cuisine on the planet. I am a new player, though, and not that great. It’s a fun game but my ranking has varied between 14-18 kyu the last couple of months on OGS. I’ve just recently moved up to the 19x19 board, and I’m now playing games on OGS and at my local club in-person on all three sized boards. I’m looking for places to play that do not have much (or better any) cigarette smoke, and are tolerant of newbies and foreigners.
Any suggestions on shops where I might buy a good moderately priced board and stones would also be dearly appreciated. I might also be interested in a professional lesson or two, if the fee is not too high, and/or a game or two with anyone interested in working on their English skills. I can talk and lose at Go at the same time.
I don’t have any experience with Go in Tokyo, but as far as I could judge, searching for “囲碁” on Google Maps in the Kansai region has never led me to a wrong place yet.
It can be hard to find 14-18k players, though. In my experience, everyone at these salons is above 60 and has played long enough to be at least 9k if not stronger (although there are many “shodan” players who are actually closer to 5k on OGS).
Like @yebellz, I’ve heard the Nihon Kiin is worth a visit, but I’ve never actually been inside.
I wouldn’t worry too much about Japanese. People are generally friendly and interested even if they don’t speak a word of English beyond “bye bye”, and you can communicate quite well about Go if you only know a few words, and many go terms you may even know in English, like atari, shimari, kosumi, hane, hasami, keima, joseki, tesuji, tsumego
I need to learn the go terms you mention that I don’t already know. I’m not conversational, but I am mistaken for an expat all the time. Folks often don’t believe me when I tell them I’m a tourist and have never lived in Japan. But, Ive only started playing Go around last Christmas.
Domo arigatou gozaimasu. I will definitely check this out, too. It’s right across the street form a major garden I’ve never been to. It was closed the only day I’ve tried. And there are a few things I want to eat around Shinjuku.
So, I’m fortunate enough to be heading back to Tokyo in a few weeks. I’m still searching for places to play at a double digit kyu ranking on OGS. I’ve improved a little in the last few months, but only a little, now around a 14 kyu. I played at a Go Cafe near Ueno and at the Nihon-kiin satellite site in Kyobashi on the trip a few months ago. I played four players, but as some folks here suggested, the level of play was quite high. They were all dan level players, and the last guy, who spoke English, was a 6-dan. Both sessions were great, but if possible, I’d like to find someplace where lower ranked ploayers might be found. And, don’t tell me grade schools. Even if it’s true.
Oh, ad the Gobanten shop in Shinjuku is still open and is a pleasure to visit. The friendly and helpful proprietor speaks English.
I’ll be very happy and surprised if you find place like this (please share here to us).
It’s something from the culture, you won’t go to a go club if you re an adult ddk. Something about losing your face…
Just returned from Japan last evening, and wanted to share a find, as requested.
So, unable to find any online leads, I stopped by one of the go cafes on Sunday without playing but then went to the Nihon Kiin satellite facility in Yurakucho on Monday at opening, 10 AM. It’s on the 9th floor of an office building very close to the station. Easiest way to find it, IMO, is to look at the photo of the building on a Google search for the facility and then walk out into the square outside the station and scan for the building that looks like the photo. I’ll repost all of this on Sensei’s library if it’s easily done and allows such long messages.
Got crushed by two dan players who spotted me stones, but not enough to make it seriously competitive. Then, while awaiting a match-up for a third thrashing before lunch, one of the staff approached me and asked if I would be interested in a class being held at 1:00 PM for kyu players of about my level (13 kyu on OGS at the moment, which according to the conversion I found is about 11 kyu in Japan or thereabouts). Some of the participants were single digit kyu players.
Of course, I was interested. There was no additional fee for the class beyond the normal admission for non-members, around 1,600 yen, as I remember. So, I grabbed a quick lunch at Yoshinoya and a latte and headed back in. The class was all in Japanese with problems and tsumego handed out beforehand around 12:30, but the instructor had a large magnetic board with stones on an easel. I only followed 10-20% of the Japanese, but I could see the board and follow easily what was going on, with possible moves explored. We then played for an hour, followed by a second 30-40 minute lecture and more play afterward. I chatted with the guy I was playing a bit, about my level, and he told me there was a similar class and schedule at the Nihon Kiin HQ in Ichigaya on Wednesdays. That one was taught by a professional 6 dan player named Sato-san, who is somewhat more intense than the first instructor. I can’t guarantee that others will have the same experience as I, particularly if they don’t speak at least a little Japanese. The guy I met Monday actually introduced me to Sato-san and rather cleared any potential snags. Both classes were really good and it was a pleasure to actually play kyu players in Japan for the first time. The problems were excellent, too. I don’t know if the schedule varies, but I’m guessing it’s a regular gig at both places, Yrakucho on Mondays and Ichigaya on Wednesdays.