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GO EQUIPMENT


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Kiseido offers a large selection of go equipment, from inexpensive sets to boards, stones, and bowls of exquisite quality, and we can help you select the equipment most suited to your needs. Special bargains for luxury equipment can be found at http://www.kiseido.com/luxury.htm .

Go Boards


Photo shows an 8-inch thick tenmasa kaya board. The scroll in the background features calligraphy by the Nobel Prize-winning writer Kawabata Yasunari. The characters read Shin'o Yugen, which mean `subtle and profound mysteries'. It is a term often used to refer to the fascination of go.
Traditional boards with attached legs are usually made from the wood of kaya (torreya nucifera) or katsura (Japanese Judas tree). Boards made of kaya are superior in their color, brightness, and hardness. Aesthetically, kaya boards are considered ideally suited to the shell and slate stones. After being cut into blocks from trees over 700 years old, the boards are classified into two main types: itame (bent or irregular grain) and masame (grain running straight across the top of the board). Masame boards are further classified into tenmasa (grain running straight across the top) and tenchimasa (grain running from the bottom to the top as well as straight across the top and bottom). Besides these characteristics, the natural grain of the wood, defects in the wood, seasoning of the wood, and length of time elasped since the wood was cut into a board, are all taken into account in setting the price. Other valued attributes of kaya boards are that their color mellows with age and they produce a lively click when struck with a stone.

Kaya trees are found all over Japan. However, it is the trees found in Miyazaki prefecture, Japan, which are the most highly prized, in particular, the trees harvested from Mount Aya in Hyuga. Because of the warm Japan Current, which runs past Miyazaki, boards cut from these trees have a closer grain and a more pleasing color.

Katsura is the most widely used wood for boards in Japan (both for traditional boards with legs and for folding boards). In the past, it has been more abundantly available than kaya, and it is hard and durable. However, traditional katsura boards are always made with an itame grain and they lack the color and brightness of kaya boards. Moreover, because of the hardness of this wood, if one wishes to use expensive shell and slate stones with these boards, it is advisable not to strike the board too strongly with them as the stones could chip. The cheaper jitsuyo-grade stones are more appropriate to use with these boards. The yuki-grade stones are the appropriate ones to use with kaya boards.

Caution

Recently, both in Japan and in the West, boards said to be made from Chinese kaya trees are being sold at very low prices. However, these are not really kaya, but a related species of kaya. These boards have a strong tendency to crack and warp. The surfaces are also prone to chapping or flaking.

Another wood that is being used for go boards is spruce. It is marketed as shin-kaya, but it is a very inferior wood to be used for go boards. It is a soft wood and, after a short time, small dents will be made by stones striking the surface. The boards initially look very nice and the grain is almost always masame or tenchimasa, but the wood deteriorates rather quickly.

Since katsura trees have been overharvested in Japan, Agathis wood has recently been used as a substitute. However, this wood is much harder than katsura, so it is advisable to use only glass stones with these boards.


An exquisite 8-inch tenmasa kaya board, one of the finest in existence. Also shown is a set of Mikura Island mulberry bowls.


Click here to view a sample selection of high-quality traditional kaya boards.



Prices for Go Boards
Code Description Kind of Wood Thickness Price
B100 9x9/13x13 One-piece Go Board Agathis 1.4 cm ¥5,000
$50
B101 Folding Go Board Agathis 1.5 cm ¥8,500
$85
B102 Folding Go Board Agathis 1.8 cm ¥10,000
$100
B104 Folding Go Board Agathis 2.1 cm ¥12,000
$120
B105 Table Go Board Agathis 3 cm
(13x13 board
on the back)
¥19,000
$190
B111 Table Go Board Agathis 5.5 cm ¥31,000
$310
B125 Go Board with Legs Agathis 14 cm ¥120,000
$1,200
B126 Go Board with Legs Agathis 17 cm ¥150,000
$1,500
B214 Table Board Kaya 5 cm ¥100,000 up
$1,000 up
B225 Go board with Legs Kaya (Itame) 15-21 cm ¥550,000 up
$5,500 up
B236 Go board with Legs Kaya (Masame) 15-21 cm ¥1,000,000 up
$10,000 up


When ordering kaya boards, please consult with the Japanese head office by e-mail: kiseido61@yahoo.com



B126




B214




B225

B236




Tenmasa kaya board with legs


Go Stones

Go stones sold by Kiseido are manufactured in Japan with a standard diameter of 2.12 cms for the white stones and 2.18 cms for the black stones. The black stones are made slightly larger to compensate for the optical illusion that makes them appear smaller.

"Glass stones" are not made purely of glass. They are a composite of various ceramic materials that make them (under normal use) highly resistant to the chipping or breaking that one might experience when using cheaper stones.


Prices for Glass Go Stones
Code Description Thickness Price
S221 Glass Go Stones 6.0 mm ¥8,000
$80
S224 Glass Go Stones 9.0 mm ¥10,000
$100
S225 Glass Go Stones 10.0 mm ¥12,000
$120




Shell and Slate Stones

Shell and slate stones manufactured in Japan are regarded by go players in Japan, China, and Korea as the finest stones available. Their weight, their color and grain, their pleasant feel, their responsiveness when placed on the board makes these stones the preferred choice for games played in international tournaments.

The black stones in these sets are made from slate nachiguro mined in Wakayama prefecture, Japan. The white stones are made from a clam called hamaguri. These clams used to be harvested in Hyuga, Miyazaki prefecture, on the southern Japanese island of Kyushu and processed there into stones. Because of the Japan Current the grain of the stones made from these clams is aesthetically more pleasing. However, because of overfishing, clam shells from Hyuga are scarce, so today almost all shell stones made and sold in Japan are from shells harvested in Lower California, Mexico.

Shell and slate stones are manufactured in thicknesses ranging from 7 to over 14mm. There is no standard thickness for stones; it is a matter of personal preference, but stones from about 8.8mm up to about 11mm thick have a nice feel to them. Aesthetically, if you are going to use the stones for a board with legs, the thicker the board, the thicker the stones should be.

Besides thickness, the white stones are classified into three grades: yuki, tsuki, and jitsuyo. Yuki stones have many grains which run straight across the top. Tsuki stones have fewer grains going across the top. Jitsuyo stones have either irregular or indistinct grain lines.

Yuki grade shell stones with the grain highlighted. The photo on the extreme right shows the approximate color of the stones.

Prices for Shell and Slate Go Stones
Code Thickness Prices for Yuki Stones Prices for Tsuki Stones Prices for Jitsuyo Stones
S25 7.0mm $235 $225 $205
S28 7.5mm $275 $245 $235
S30 8.0mm $320 $285 $270
S31 8.4mm $385 $330 $320
S32 8.8mm $500 $405 $355
S33 9.2mm $680 $485 $405
S34 9.5mm $905 $535 $440
S35 9.8mm $1,060 $580 $455
S36 10.1mm $1,150 $610 $470
S37 10.4mm $1,230 $635 $480
S38 10.7mm $1,480 $675 $500
S39 11.0mm $1,700 $830 $630
S40 11.3mm $2,140 $1,020 $770

Over the last year or so, because of supply problems, Japanese manufacturers have been producing very few shell and slate stones. Moreover, there has been a tremendous demand from Mainland Chinese who are willing to pay high prices for whatever stones are available. As a result, it has become difficult for Kiseido to obtain these stones. If there is a particular size and grade of stones that you would like to purchase, please let us know and we may be able to obtain them for you.



Go Bowls

In Japan, you will find a large variety of go bowls made from different kinds of wood. Each has their own distinctive color and character. The most commonly used bowls are made of Chestnut; you will find them in many company offices where workers play go during their lunch breaks. Because of their durability, plastic bowls are often used in go clubs. (They won't crack if they accidently fall off the table).

Keyaki bowls are well regarded because of their durability and masame grain pattern. Their golden yellow color also matches the color of the highly prized kaya boards. The color of the cherrywood bowls are also well matched to the kaya boards. Rose keyaki are actually stained keyaki. They are made from keyaki wood whose original color and grain pattern is substandard. But these are sturdy attractive bowls that go well with the darker katstura boards.

The best bowls are made of mulberry, in particular, those that come from two neighboring islands, Miyake and Mikura, which are about 100 kilometers south of Tokyo. The bowls from Mikura are particularly highly regarded. They come in two basic colors: golden yellow and a reddish hue. The reddish ones are particularly beautiful. As you tilt them in the light, the color changes to a golden hue. Many of them have markings or prominent grain patterns which glisten when the bowls are turned in the light.

Unfortunately, a volcano erupted on Miyake island about ten years ago that devastated the mulberry trees there and the ash that fell on Mikura island did a lot of damage to its trees as well. Consequently, there are not many mulberry bowls left and the finest among them are quite expensive. (Click here to view some of these bowls.)


T372T375


Prices for Go Bowls
Code Description Material Size Price
T372 Go Bowls Chestnut Holds up to
10.0 mm stones
¥13,000
$130
T375 Go Bowls Rose Keyaki Holds up to
10.0 mm stones
¥18,000
$180
T376 Go Bowls Cherrywood Holds up to
10.0 mm stones
¥21,000
$210
T378 Go Bowls Keyaki Holds up to
10.0 mm stones
¥27,500
$275
T380L Go Bowls Chinese Quince Holds up to
10.0 mm stones
¥35,000
$350
T380EL Go Bowls Chinese Quince Holds up to
13.0 mm stones
¥40,000
$400
T381 Go Bowls Mulberry Holds up to
12.0 mm stones
¥100,000
$1,000 up


T380T376


Choosing a Set of Board, Stones, and Bowls

In choosing a go set, the most important consideration is the balance in the quality of the board, stones, and bowls. If you own a fine tenmasa kaya board, it is aesthetically required that you have the finest set of yuki stones to go with it, preferably ones made from clams harvested in Hyuga. You would also want to store them in a pair of high-quality mulberry bowls. You would never want to use a set of yuki stones on a wooden folding board, nor would you use a set of glass stones on an expensive kaya board.

If you are using a traditional katsura board, there is no need to purchase an expensive set of yuki stones; a set of tsuki stones would best match the board. If you want to use the stones and board every day, but you want to play on fine equipment, a 2-inch katsura or hiba table board with jitsuyo stones (jitsuyo means `practical use') would be adequate.

Chestnut bowls should be used with glass stones. If you decide to purchase a set of shell and slate stones to be used with a katsura table board or a katsura board with legs, then you should certainly move up to cherrywood bowls or keyaki bowls along with a set of jitsuyo or tsuki stones.

If you were to purchase an expensive kaya board, aesthetic balance demands that you match it with a set of yuki stones and bowls made from the mulberry that grows on Miyake or Mikura island in Japan.

When you decide to purchase a go set, Kiseido would be happy to advise you as to what kind of set would best fill your needs. From the manufacturer's warehouse, we can select a wide range of equipment, from folding boards to traditional boards up 7.5 inches thick, glass stones, shell and slate stones up to 14 mm thick, and a variety of bowls to suit any taste.




Prices for Magnetic Go Sets
Code Description Size Features Price
MG05 Magnetic Go Set 25x23 cm 160 stones
each color
¥5,000
$50
MG20 Magnetic Go Set 32x30 cm Carrying case ¥11,000
$110
MG25 Magnetic Go Set 36x34 cm Carrying case ¥16,500
$165


MG25



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KISEIDO
Kagawa 4-48-32
Chigasaki-shi, Kanagawa-ken
Japan 253-0082;
FAX +81-467-28-5811;
email: kiseido61@yahoo.com