Out-of-ordinary insei training and a go party

Today marked a slightly more special insei training day. Out of the blue during the day, the insei instructors came up with the idea of switching the classroom to the sixth floor from the normal seventh. That means that today, I played two of my three games in a traditional tatami room, which the professionals normally use for their games! Of course, it wasn’t my first time in a tatami room, as I’d participated in two kenkyuukai before. Still, it was a welcome change.

This weekend’s result was a comfortable five wins to one loss, meaning that in total I have now eight wins and four losses. That only gets me the fifth place, however! The finished results list for the first two weeks looks like this. Sorry for the poor picture quality!

Playing in a tatami room of course means sitting in seiza too, though it didn’t appear to be a formal requirement of anything; many insei sat cross-legged. I did seiza for as long as I could, and only near the end of the third game did I have to change my posture. As a side effect of having sat in seiza, I noticed that walking down stairs became incredibly difficult for a short while.

Here’s two photos from the sixth floor:

It's of course not allowed to go into a tatami room with shoes, so they've shelves like this for storing one's shoes on the sixth floor. The green slippers are for quicker access to the toilet and vending machines. These would likely be the same shoe shelves that were depicted in Hikaru no go!
I took this photo in secret while the other insei were busy speculating on the result (they'd be to the left of this photo). I definitely prefer playing in a room like this to normal table-top boards!

If I understood right, part of the instructors’ idea in using the sixth floor was that so the insei kids would be able to concentrate better (thanks to the new surroundings), as they’d been quite restless for the whole weekend. Something went awry in this plan, as it seemed like the children were even more restless by the end of the day! Of course, everybody got a good scolding afterwards as usual.

I was picked up right after the insei training to go to a go party in Shinjuku, which included go players, food and drink, and live music. A few 9 dan professionals such as Takemiya-sensei and Kataoka-sensei were present, too. Some smalltalk was talked and food eaten; when I learned at one point that I was conversing with a belly dance professional, I got to surprise some Japanese people by remarking that the current Finnish president does some belly dancing, too. The live music was really nice, including e.g. some really skilled pianists. Ōhashi-sensei, who is a regular at the English class, can play the piano really well! Oh, and I also exchanged some words with the programmer of the go bot Zen.

Now that I’ve gotten quite used to the life here in Japan, I’m beginning to have difficulties figuring out what exactly I should share in this blog — many things that would previously have seemed outlandish (like casually chatting with Takemiya-sensei) have gotten to be more or less everyday life. If the reader would have something they’d like to hear more about, please give me tips by commenting on this post! I’m planning to include an insei game or two with commentary within the next few days, it’s been too long of a break from those.

7 thoughts on “Out-of-ordinary insei training and a go party”

  1. Hi, first of all thank you for this blog and the time you spent with it; it is well written and I enjoy to reading it.

    Are you allowed to watch professional games, like Oteai matches or something similar?

    Are you gonna watch the Kiesei match between Cho and Takao together with other inseis live, maybe in a similar tv room as it was in hng?

    Is there a big difference between young and old pros, maybe in their behavior and their commitment to tradition. Are there any contemporary professionals still wear traditional ceremonial clothing at their matches? Etc.

    How does is feel to play a strong professional in an even (or without komi) game?

    Are professionals really that amaizing in reading the rest of the world maybe think or do they sometimes overlook easy things (maybe in one of your english classes, when they argue about your game)?

    Maybe you can write a few lines about Cho Chikun if you should meet him some time, because he is my favorite player 😀

    Again, thank you for your blog and all the time you invest. Iam sure you gonna hit B class and open that present!

    Have fun,


    1. Wow, that’s a lot of questions! I may have to resuscitate the questions and answers blog post series for these. :)

      I haven’t met Cho Chikun yet, will see what happens in the future on that part! Thanks for the questions, I’ll see what I can do about these!

  2. Very enjoying read as usual.

    One thing I would be interested in is the stories behind the insei. What made them choose their path? How young did they start, what did they do in order to become strong?

    Another thing would be what places to visit as a go player in japan. I am currently planning a 2 week vacation in japan in 2013.

    Thanks for your valueable time again and agian.

    1. Thanks!

      I would imagine almost all of the insei are studying at the Ki-in more or less as a result of their parents’ urging — this should hold for the younger insei, at least. The older insei are generally also the stronger insei, and when you’re in B or A class, you’d seriously start aiming to become professional. It’s likely that they started at their parents’ urging too, but developed interests of their own to pass the pro exam. Of course all the insei are namely aiming to become pro, but I can see a huge difference between some of the inseis’ attitude for studying. Some younger insei seem to be more interested in just having fun with the other children.

      As for starting ages and training bethods before becoming insei, I suppose I could try to find out about a few cases, if my Japanese skills let me. Or maybe I could ask the English class’s pros how they trained before becoming insei? Pretty much the same conditions should have applied for them as well.

      Places to visit in Japan as a go player is an interesting topic — I could try to put together a larger post (or maybe an essay) for that, although I’m sure that my knowledge alone will be still quite limited.

      Thanks for the ideas!

  3. “[…] like casually chatting with Takemiya-sensei) have gotten to be more or less everyday life.” Do you know how envious this simple sentence make *us*? :-)

    Keep it like this, focus on go and whatever is trendy in your life, it will all be exciting for us, and we will keep learning a lot!

    (e.g. the kikashi post was really interesting!)

    Thanks for all, cheers!

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