Saturday, May 26, 2007

The New Japanese Chess Board Is Here!

shogi board
Yes! It arrived this morning, all the way from Japan! The new Japanese Chess board, a block of solid wood, thick as a butcher block, standing on legs, a thing of rare beauty. It arrived this morning from Japan, and I am simply going out of my game-addled gourd!

Game fanatic that I am, I've been fascinated with Japanese Chess, or Shogi, ever since age 14 or 15. Of course back in those days— we're talking early 70s— there was no way on earth that I, living in the American Midwest, was going to latch onto a quality Shogi set. So I made do with what I could: a homemade set I turned out myself; a cheap little travel set from Japan. For many years, I made do.

Fast forward to a bit over a year ago, when at long last I found a site called, which offers beautiful Shogi pieces and Shogi boards, and which is written in English. So I ordered a folding wooden Shogi board, and some Siamese boxwood Shogi pieces with Japanese characters incised into them. I was very pleased with these items, and with the service provided by David Hurley, the mastermind behind

shogi board
Recently the idea entered my mind of getting a really nice traditional Shogi board— like I say, solid wood, thick as a butcher block, standing on wooden legs. Boards like these are not cheap, you understand; and the thicker they are, the costlier. What I had in mind turned out to be a custom order. I emailed David Hurley, and he was very helpful in obtaining for me the kind of board I was looking for.

He packed it very, very carefully, too. And this morning Mr. Mailman showed up on my front step with an express package from Japan.

shogi board
The new Shogi board is made of katsura wood from the island of Hokkaido. It measures 13" by 14 1/4", and the board is about 4 5/8" thick. The wooden legs underneath the board are 3 5/8" tall, so the entire thing stands about 8 1/4" high.

It's heavy. Heavy! I don't have any scales handy, but just hefting it, I'd hazard a good 15 or 20 pounds as a ballpark estimate. And underneath, on the bottom of the board, is carved the traditional pyramid-shaped hollow in the wood.

This is the kind of Shogi board I've been dreaming about for 35 years now. It's an absolutely beautiful board, and it really is a dream come true.

Update, 9/07: is now Japanese Games Shop.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...


there's something about japanese culture and esthetics

Sunday, May 27, 2007 10:06:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am thoroughly delighted for you!

Sunday, May 27, 2007 2:07:00 PM  
Blogger hirohurl said...

I'm delighted to read that you received the board in good condition!

Best wishes,

David Hurley

Tuesday, May 29, 2007 7:02:00 PM  
Blogger Dillon Carney said...


I am not sure if you would be able to help me, but I am trying to make a shoge, and I am wondering if you knew what kind of wood is used for the board itself.

Thank you

Tuesday, January 04, 2011 2:43:00 PM  
Blogger Paul Burgess said...

Well, as I mention above, this Shogi board of mine is made of katsura wood from the island of Hokkaido. Many Shogi boards are made of katsura, though I don't know where outside of Japan a person could obtain katsura wood.

The most expensive Shogi boards are made of a yellowish wood called kaya. Not cheap! And once again, I don't know that kaya wood would be widely available outside of Japan. (Though I do have a Go board, obtained from Yellow Mountain Imports, which is made of Chinese kaya wood.)

There are some other woods also used to make Shogi or Go boards, such as hiba wood, I believe. And I can't provide a link just off the top of my head, but it seems to me some boards are made of Alaskan spruce? Spruce should be pretty readily available, I should think.

Saturday, January 22, 2011 2:42:00 PM  

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