The fascinating game of Go in Japanese culture

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Go is a board game widely played in Japan. For centuries, Japanese people have been playing with the aim of having fun, improving their tactical and strategy skills, improving the mental functions of the elderly and bringing people together.

In addition, numerous championships are held every year and the number of professional players is also considerably higher. Its original name is igo [囲碁] and it is a simple game where the objective is to dominate territories.

The game is not only played in Japan, as in other countries, such as China and Korea, Go is popular and has other names: Weiqi and Baduk, respectively. The game is believed to be over 2000 years old.


GO in Anime

Interestingly, several anime have already addressed Go in its plots. You can see a game similar to Go being played by the character Meruem during the Hunter x Hunter anime. Such a game, called gungi, is fictional and was created by the manga author combining characteristics of Go and Shogi.

In addition to Hunter, the anime Hikaru no Go (ヒカルの碁) also helped to further popularize the game in modern times. 
The rules of Go, at first, can be scary, but they are not as complicated as they appear to be.

Despite their international reach, anime and manga have contributed to the spread of Go around the world. Some of the young professionals at Nippon Kiin started playing Go because they watched the anime or read works about the game.

O fascinante jogo de go na cultura japonesa

How do you play Go?

The objective of the game is to conquer more territory than the enemy on the board. The Goban (碁盤), as the Go board is called, starts empty and players alternate their moves. White stones usually start with an advantage in scoring, ranging between 5.5 and 7 points. 


Go, unlike Shôgi and Western Chess, does not aim to capture the King and does not allow the movement of pieces on the board. Go stones (black or white) are placed on the Goban and once placed cannot be moved.

Another interesting factor in gambling is the possibility of placing the stones anywhere on the board (at the beginning of the game) and capturing an enemy piece restricting its “freedoms” (points of intersection). This is another peculiar feature of this fascinating game, the stones should be placed only at the intersections.

Japanese culture is closely linked to Go and numerous cultural rules are present during a game. For example: before starting a new duel, players must speak Onegaishimasu (お願いします) and should also sit in the Seiza position (with the knees bent over the legs).

O fascinante jogo de go na cultura japonesa

Japanese Go game terms

Below we list some terms related to Go:

  • 囲碁 (いご) = Go (Board game based on the conquest of territory);
  • 碁 (ご) = Go;
  • 碁石 (ごいし) = Pedras do Go;
  • 碁盤 (ごばん) = Go board;
  • 碁笥 (ごけ) = Cumbucas where the stones of Go are. Also called ごす;
  • コミ = Komi's rule. Extra score given to the white stones of a beginner. It is usually 6.5 or 5.5. 
  • こみだし = Komi's rule. Extra score given to the white stones of a beginner. It is usually 6.5 or 5.5. 
  • 神の一手 (かみのいって) = God's play;
  • 先手 (せんて) = Initiative (It is the act of keeping the initiative in the game without having to respond to an enemy attack;
  • 後手 (ごて) = According to Lance, it is the act of not maintaining the initiative. The opponent does not need to answer a move;
  • ヒカルの碁 (ひかるのご) = Anime that made the game of Go even more popular in modern times;
O fascinante jogo de go na cultura japonesa

Where to buy a Go board?

I want to end this article by recommending some original Go boards that can be found for sale on Amazon Brazil, in addition to some game related products. Some of the products have free shipping for members of the Amazon Prime.

Different types of Go

In addition to the traditional Go, there are many different ways to play with the black or white board or pieces of go, in addition to modified boards and modified rules. Below are different ways to play Go:


Gomoku [五目] - also known as Gobang, is a strategic board game on a slightly modified Go board (15 × 15 intersections). However, unlike go, once the pieces are placed they cannot be moved or removed from the board.

Renju [連珠] - Similar to Gomoku, the difference is in the rules that weakens the advantages for the first player (Black) by adding special restrictions for those with black pieces.