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The Highest Quality Shogi Boards

The highest quality shogiban ( and also goban ) are made of Kaya wood

( Torreya Nucifera or Japanese Nutmeg-yew ), that grews in the Miyazaki

area in southern Kyushu.

It is believed that the ” Hon-Kaya ” ( i.e. the Japanese Nutmeg-yew ) is

superior to the ” Chinese-Kaya ” a similar tree that grows in the Yunan

province in China and that the boards made of the Chinese wood are

only second best ( maybe the Chinese think differently, I don’t know ).

The ” Hon-Kaya “, because of the environment ( significant temperature

differences, lots of rain and sunlight, rocky mountainous area so each

annual ring is very close and dense, is believed to be the ideal and best


Even the snapping sounds of the pieces and stones are the most

satisfying on these kaya boards.

In order to make a board, a large chunk of between 200 and 800

years old Kaya wood is needed ( the cutting down of natural

Kaya trees is now strictly forbidden in Japan ), not surprisingly

This 18,7 kg Hon Kaya Shogiban with legs is for example priced at 380000 JPY

the prices are quite steep.

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Easier Versions of Shogi

9 Masu Shogi

Played on a 3×3 square, uses only 8 of the original types of pieces.
The movements and goal of checkmate remain but there are 40
different starting positions.
The game was developped by Teruichi Aono, a professional shogi player
and has been endorsed by the Japan Shogi Association.

Doubutsu Shogi ( ” Animals ” Shogi )
English name : Let’s catch the Lion

Played on 3×4 squares.
Both players have only 4 pieces :
Chick, Giraffe, Elephant & Lion
The goals : catch the opponent’s lion
or move your own lion to the other side
How to play :
The giraffe moves like a rook ( but moves only 1 space ).
The elephant moves like a bishop ( but moves only 1 space ).
The chick is like the pawn of Shogi,
and is promoted to chicken ( = the gold general in Shogi ).
The lion is like the king but he can win essentially by promoting,
as long as it doesn’t leave him in check.
You are still able to drop in pieces that you captured from your opponent.
Unlike in Shogi, you can drop a chick for mate or have two chicks in a column.

Kyoto Shogi

Played on 5×5 squares.
Invented by Tamiya Katsuya in 1976
See Wikipedia :
for detailed information

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The Most Popular Mobile Shogi Apps in Japan

The apps from UNBALANCE Corporation seems to be by far the most popular in Japan

both for Android & IOS, they make Shogi apps but also Go & Mah Jong ones.

For Shogi, try to type ” Kanazawa Shogi ” in your app store.

In the Japanese Android Store, I get :

Kanazawa Shogi Lite : free with ads & in-app purchase
Kanazawa Shogi 2 :¥ 600
Shogi Lv. 100 : ¥ 360
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Gujin Shogi : A Strategy Game Not Really Related To Shogi

What the game has in common with shogi is the shape of the pieces, the military theme
and the fact that it was invented in Japan ( apparently before WW2 )
The goal is to capture the enemy flag and the game requires a third person acting
as an empire.
Each player has 23 pieces : 1 flag / 12 officers / 2 planes / 2 tanks / 1 cavalry /
2 engineers / 1 spy / 2 land mines
There are hidden pieces ( spies ), the system is hierarchical, stonger pieces
defeat weaker ones with some exceptions and special actions ( for. ex. a plane cannot
of course be destroyed by land mines, engineers can desctivate land mines )

One popular version in Japan is the one sold by Hanayama

There are several video games versions of Gujin Shogi :
for ex. on Toshiba MSX, Famicom, Super Famicom, PS1, PS3/PSP/Vita

Gujin Shogi by Hanayama
Family Gujin Shogi PS1 2002
Toshiba MSX 1985
Kaettekita! Gunjin Shogi: Nanya Sore!? Famicom 1989
Heisei Gunjin Shogi Super Famicom 1996