War and Territory
Go: Japan’s Seige Game
Go is perhaps the Japanese board game best known in the West. It has been featured in books and films—most recently in the 2001 film A Beautiful Mind. Known less widely is the fact that go is the Japanese version of the Chinese game weiqi, with rules that vary only slightly from those of its Chinese relative. Essentially, they are the same game. The history of go in Japan, aside from its derivation from a Chinese game, is one of great interest, as go (even more than shogi) was seen as the game of the superior mind. Moreover, it has been the subject of literature, including a famous passage in the Tale of Genji, a work from the early-eleventh century often considered the world’s first novel, and The Master of Go, by the Nobel laureate Yasunari Kawabata.

Go board with container and pieces
larger image

Go board with container and pieces
Japan; Edo period (1615–1868), early 18th century
Wood, with gold maki-e on lacquer ground; 27.0 x 45.4 x 42.0 cm; container height: 10.0 cm, diameter: 11.0 cm
Kozu Kobunka Kaikan Museum, 6A-8