Go-ishi or Go stones are black and white stones used for “Go”, a Japanese traditional board game that originated in China. Hyuga Clam Go Stones are Go stones produced in the Hyuga region, made from clamshells.
Prior to the Meiji period, stones, wood, and gems were generally used to make Go stones.
In the beginning of the Meiji period, Go-ishi makers in Oosaka began to use clams for Go stones in the Kuwana region of Mikawa. Due to vigorous production, however, clams in the region became scarce and Go-ishi makers had to look elsewhere for supplies.
Eventually Go-ishi makers found an abundant source of good clams in the Hyuga region and, as a result, all go-ishi makers in Oosaka started using them.
Around 1908, Seikichi Harada, who was from the Hyuga region and who had been trained as a Go-ishi maker in Oosaka, decided to go back to his home town where he and his workmate, Eijirou Ogawa, began producing Go stones. Due to their tireless efforts, Go-ishi making increased and it became one of the most important local businesses.
Hyuga is now the production center of clamshell Go stones in Japan. Its Go-ishi making techniques, mastered over the years, are highly regarded even outside of Japan.
Hyuga Clam Go Stones are the highest quality of Go-ishi in every respect, due to their fine texture, color, gloss and shape.
Ganmon Cave, located about the center of Noto Kongo, the most scenic spot in Noto Peninsula, is a cave that wave erosion of the rough Sea of Japan hollowed out in the center of a huge rock. The cave is 15 m tall, 6 m wide and 60 m deep. A small ship can go through it. The towering rock is covered with old pine trees. There are several legends about this cave. The most famous one is that Minamoto no Yoshitsune hid himself in this cave when he headed for Oshu (presently Tohoku Region), escaping from his brother, Yoritomo. Near Ganmon Cave stand a lot of strange places of interest. To the south of Ganmon Cave lie Goban (Go board) Island, where Yoshitsune and his followers are said to have enjoyed playing Igo, and the Takanosu (hawk’s nest) Rock with a height of 27 m, where hawks made there nests, the Fukiagenotaki Waterfall with a height of 27 m, and Senjojiki Rock
Igo is a match-up board game, in which two players alternately place black and white stones on the vacant intersections of line grid on the board called “Goban.” The objective is to control a larger territory than the opponent’s by placing one’s stones tactically. Igo originated in ancient Chinese horoscope, which was carried out around 2000 years ago, and it was gradually changed into the present form. Igo was introduced into Japan in the Nara period (710-794), when it gained popularity among noblemen and priests. In the Edo period, it came to be played by the general public and “Gokaijo (Igo play house)” were established in towns. The Shogunate encouraged the establishment of Go academy and the schools of Honinbo, Yasui, Inoue, and Hayashi competed each other. After the Meiji Restoration, the school system was abolished and anyone could challenge to be a professional Igo player through ability. In these days a manga story has created Igo boom among the young generation, and a lot of young people have become interested in Igo. Igo is also played on the Internet. It can be said that full-scale inernationalization of Igo game has gotten under way.
The Maezawa Go-Board Shop was established close to 130 years ago, and is one of the oldest shops in Japan to specialize in go and shogi boards. The shop first opened its doors to customers in the early Meiji period. The founder was a craftsman from the Edo period, and it is recalled even to this day that his unrelenting intensity and rigour when carving go and shogi boards was tremendous. The current shopkeeper Michio Maezawa is the fourth generation. The distinguished craftsmanship that the shop has been famous for sees no signs of abating even now in the Heisei period, and proves that the skills passed down from great grandfather, grandfather and father, have been rightly inherited. As it always has been, the craftsman completes every single piece of work by hand, investing many hours and much of his soul. The material for the board comes from Japanese kaya, which is strictly hand picked by the craftsman himself. The kaya is stored for over 10 years and even then only the one most right for crafting is chosen by the master. The intense selection that the boards go through means only the finest of quality is offered. The go-board that is currently used during the Fukasogi Ceremony of the Imperial Palace is one that had been presented by the Maezawa Go-Board Shop during the 39th year of the Showa period.