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
the prices are quite steep.