Last Sunday I returned from my first visit to Japan, after my period as insei earlier this year. We’d qualified with my girlfriend to be the Finnish representatives for the World Amateur Pair Go Championship, held in Tokyo, and while we were at it, we stayed in Tokyo for a little bit of extra time afterwards. I’m not sure if it’s odd or not, but this time around, visiting Tokyo felt almost like returning home.
The pair go championship was held in Hotel Metropolitan Edmont Tokyo, a higher-class hotel. I’d in fact “gatecrashed” the championship tournament already one year ago (it was held at the same venue), back when I was insei, so how the tournament operated was already quite familiar to me. 32 pairs took part this year. The tournament organizers had asked for all the pairs to bring with them a national costume to be clad in during the friendship match on Saturday 3rd November, which made for quite a show:
In the end, I and Elina ended up on the 23rd place, with two wins and three losses. Not very surprisingly, the Korean pair won the championship — I’d even heard a rumor that Korea’s female representative is a student of Lee Sedol! The tournament was an incredibly fun experience, and we’re looking forward to be able to participate again in future years. The tournament’s marketing department did their job well, as both of us now feel an incentive to promote the playing of pair go further in Finland.
After the championship tournament ended, we had basically one week of free time to look around the autumny Tokyo. In the end, however, the whole week felt incredibly full of activity, with close to no free time at all — not that I minded. On Tuesday, I went to visit the Nihon Ki-in English class, which is currently mainly run by Nikola Mitic, the Serbian D-class insei who started last October. As I found out, nothing much had changed about the English class, which is of course a good thing.
One of the more fun things we got to do in Tokyo was also to pay a visit to Mt. Takao, which is one of the more famous mountains of the Tokyo region. Although the mountain is only about 600 meters high, it’s a very popular tourist attraction. When the weather is good, you can easily see Mt. Fuji from the top of Mt. Takao, as well. This time around for me, the main attraction however were the spectacular autumn’s colours, as depicted below.
I was feeling slightly envious, as Finland is already rapidly on its way to winter, the current general weather being very grey and close to zero Celsius degrees. In Japan, the temperature was generally between 15 and 20 degrees.
In the end, the whole trip to Japan worked out exactly as I hoped, greatly motivating me to try to work my way to move back there. What I’m doing now is trying to finish my studies as quickly as possible, while looking for possible opportunities to being able to live in Japan.
On a more interesting note to the readers, our Serbian insei has expressed interest in blogging about his experiences. If everything works out nicely, you can expect to see a “Nikola’s insei blog” partition being created in Go of Ten in around ten days’ time!