Some time has already passed, but I’m now returning to report from the Bergen Open tournament that was held two weeks ago. This was the first tournament that a Norwegian friend of mine, who I first met in China three years ago, organized — and if I may say, certainly not the last! This was more of a smaller club tournament. Me and Juri (Finnish 5 dan, both NGA teachers) got invited to play and teach at the tournament, while the other participants were ranked 2 dan and under. The total number of players came to 19 people. I won the decisive match against Juri, in a sense getting revenge for my previous loss to him at Takapotku, and claimed the first place of the tournament. This time I’ll pass on game commentaries, and instead write from the future potential perspective:
Greetings from Innoshima, the birthplace of Honinbō Shūsaku!
Last Thursday, me and my friend Kurt, who is generously accommodating me in Tōkyō, went out of our way to visit the Shūsaku memorial hall in Innoshima; you could call this a go player’s pilgrimage of sorts. Those of you who have read the manga, Hikaru no Go, might remember Hikaru’s visit to Innoshima in search of Sai. Innoshima is located near the south coast of Honshū, Japan’s biggest island, between Ōsaka and Hiroshima. The distance between Tōkyō and Innoshima is close to 700 kilometres, which translates to a four-hour train trip. Last Thursday was actually a Japanese national holiday, which meant that the memorial hall was closed; what we did was travel to south of Ōsaka and spend the night there at a ryokan (traditional Japanese inn), and we then continued to Innoshima early on Friday morning.
After taking some local trains and a local bus, we finally arrived on the island of Innoshima, and were greeted by this kind of a view:
Gifts? Check! Clothes? Check! Passport with visa? Check! Wallet, laptop, phone, rechargers, etc, etc, etc? Check! Weight limit exceeded? Check! Something forgotten? Most likely, but it shouldn’t be vital! Time before the airplane departs? Less than seven hours. Final blog post? Soon done!
The above should describe my current situation quite well. Today 17:15 PM Finnish time, my airplane departs for Tokyo, where I’ll arrive 2:55 AM Finnish time, meaning 8:55 AM Japanese time — it’s going to become one really long day. Once there, I’ll have quite a rigmarole to clear up: getting used to the new settings, meeting with Nihon Ki-in personnel and friends on Thursday, doing an interview on Friday, studying as insei right away in the weekend, and registering as alien at a local police office sometime during my first three weeks.
At this point, I would like to thank everybody who has helped to make my trip to Japan possible: Kobayashi Chizu sensei and Tomotaka Urasoe of Nihon Ki-in, my good friend Kurt for fixing my accommodation problem, Jaakko Virtanen with his company Virte-metalli and the Finnish-Japanese Organization for providing me with a big enough travel budget, and my family, girlfriend and go player friends for all the encouragement and practical help!
My Finnish readers may be interested to know that I also have a travel blog in Finnish at insei.japanissa.fi! Rest assured, English readers, I’ll make sure to update this blog often enough.