[Activity] Tendo City Shogi! Make your own chess piece
More than 90% of shogi pieces in Japan are produced in Tendo City, famous for hosting the Human Shogi festival, a live game of Japanese chess where participants are acting as the pieces on the board. This time, I tried an activity where you get to write on or carve your own shogi piece!
1. Tendo, the city of Shogi
Tendo in Yamagata Prefecture is known as Japan’s shogi city.
Shogi-related objects are set up everywhere in the city, and tsume shogi problems are drawn on the main streets and telephone poles in front of the station.
Tendo is Japan’s production center of shogi pieces as about 90% of all shogi pieces made in Japan are from Tendo.
Such history goes back to the late Edo period.
Daihachi Yoshida of the Tendo Oda clan at that time encouraged the clan to make shogi pieces as a relief for the clan.
It seems that there was a backlash from the samurai class, but since shogi is also the basis of military art, it gradually became popular as a samurai’s livelihood.
2. Shogi piece-writing activity
Normally, you will write on your own shogi piece or carve it separately, but this time we did both activities together!
First of all, apply for the activity at the Tendo Tower.
* The activity venue may change depending on the number of people and the reservation status.
Time required will change depending on the complexity of the characters, so if you are worried about the schedule, please feel free to call for details (^-^)
Mr. Hasegawa, who has a wealth of experience, was the instructor this time.
At Tendo Tower, experienced instructors will carefully guide you, so even beginners can enjoy it with confidence.
I was also nervous about this as it was my first time, but I was excited by Mr. Hasegawa’s advice and his talk about writting on shogi pieces, so I was able to relax and devote myself to the work (^-^)
Once the letters are decided, the activity will start immediately!
Here is the blank piece on which to write down your selected characters.
It is surprisingly large and heavy.
First, put the date, name, etc. on the back side with a pen.
Vertical writing, horizontal writing, characters to be inserted, etc., everything is up to you.
Make a draft of the characters to be written on the piece.
This time, we chose the two characters “ten” and “do” used for “Tendo”.
Make a crease on the pattern so that the characters are in the center,
Put carbon paper in-between.
Trace with a pencil to make a draft.
Oh! It feels like that!
Finally, write the characters using a brush!
“The trick is not to seek perfection, but to do it with all one’s might!” says Mr. Hasegawa.
This lack of perfection is what makes the piece truly unique!
It’s a memory that will last a lifetime, so it’s important to enjoy its unique taste (^-^)
Mr. Hasegawa gave me words of encouragment and I picked up the brush!
First, we will trim the outside of the characters.
The point is to run the brush while turning the piece without changing the position of the brush.
Next, we will finish the inside of the bordered characters.
I wonder, it’s okay to use your hands for the first time in a long time and devote yourself to the work.
It will be completed in about 20 minutes!
* Working time varies depending on the type of characters.
How is it?
I’m not very dexterous, but it looks good (^ 0 ^)
And I would like to tell you this comfortable tiredness and exhilarating sense of accomplishment!
I feel like I’ve tasted it for the first time in a while (laughs)
You’ll want to repeat this twice or three times instead of once (^-^)
Finally, put it in a special box and let it dry.
Immediately after writing the characters, it will take some time for them to dry.
If you are staying at a nearby inn or hotel on the day, it is recommended that you use the box lid to dry as shown in this photo after arriving at your room.
Be careful when boarding an airplane during the day or when driving on snowy or bumpy roads.
It is possible to have it mailed to you at a later date (a separate shipping fee is required), so if you are interested, please consult with the instructor (^-^)
3. Shogi piece-carving activity
Next try carving your own shogi piece!
A nostalgic chisel is used.
Is it the first time since my days of elementary school to use a chisel?
I’m sure many people will feel the same nostalgia!
By the way, as you can see in the picture, there is also a left-handed chisel.
Carving the shogi pieceas has a slightly higher difficulty and time requirement compared to writing on one.
Click here for explanatory materials.
The procedure is the same as for writing pieces up to the point where characters are drafted on them.
When the draft is completed, make a cut at an angle of about 45 degrees from the outside to the inside of the character as in step 1.
Next, as in step 2, make the same cut from the inside to the outside of the character.
You will have to dig along the outline of the letter so that the cross section becomes a “V” shape.
It may be a little difficult to understand if it is just words, but please be assured that the instructor will support you well (^-^)
First let’s look at Mr. Hasegawa’s example.
Hmmm, I can’t help but admire the flowing handwork…
While receiving the generous guidance of Mr. Hasegawa, I will put in a terrifying blade!
It’s quite difficult (> _ <;)
I had poor grades in art and crafts and was impatient, saying, “Maybe this is impossible?”
However, after a while, I got used to it little by little, and like when writing on the pieces, I was completely absorbed in it (^-^)
Mr. Hasegawa says, “Relax and keep on it!”
Do not put too much force on it, and dig it as if you were making a cut in the paper.
Step 1 is completed in about 30 minutes.
Remove the paper in the text box and proceed to step 2.
Around this time, I got used to the work, and I had some leeway in my mind (^-^).
I also have a lively conversation with Mr. Hasegawa (laughs)
One of the attractions of Shogimura’s experience is the interaction with the instructor (^-^)
In the meantime, the upper part of character was almost completed!
If the carving is shallow, repeat steps 1 and 2 several times.
Finally, Mr. Hasegawa made fine adjustments, and the two pieces were completed!
The piece-carving activity ends when you are done carving.
It takes some time for the finishing of the piece so you will have to come back to pick it up or you can have the piece shipped to you at a later date.
I would like to introduce the finished product as soon as it is received!
Even so, I felt as refreshing as “How many years have you been so focused and experienced the sense of accomplishment?” (≧-≦)
This activity, which will remain in your memory and record, is really recommended for your trip to Yamagata (^-^)
4. Multiple patterns and characters
Many will just write or carve a single character on their shogi piece, but you can also put your favorite pattern or multiple characters like this.
The Demon Slayer TV show is really popular so those pieces are recommended for fans (^-^)
Shogi pieces can have a very cool shape, atmosphere, and design.
Please try your favorite patterns and characters (^-^)
5. The finished product has arrived!
About two weeks after the hands-on workshoip and the completed work arrived to my house!
* You can take the written piece home on the day of the activity, but there is a delay before receiving the completed carved one.
Here are the finished products!
I’d say it myself, but it feels pretty good!
I use them to decorate my house’s entrance, but they can be displayed in a Japanese-style room too (^-^)
If you look closely at the written pieces, there are some distorted parts, but you can even enjoy this as the uniqueness of your original shogi piece.
The carved piece has a different finish than the written one.
The carving emphasizes the three-dimensional effect of the characters.
This is a wonderful activity workshop that will remain in your memory and record (^-^)
If you come to Tendo in Yamagata, please try it!
6. Shogimura Tendo Tower
The activity is taken place in the Tendo Shogi Tower.
It is recommended as a sightseeing spot, as there is a shopping corner where many souvenirs and traditional crafts are lined up, and a restaurant where you can taste Yamagata’s famous imoni and soba noodles.
Passing through the entrance of the store, the right hand side is a shopping area for special products.
Most of the souvenirs available here, such as sweets with shogi pieces as a motif, local sake, and ramen packs are from Yamagata.
The craft shopping area is on the left side of the entrance.
There are a wide variety of crafts related to shogi!
It goes from easy-to-purchase name-inserted key chains to high-class pieces and shogi boards used by professional shogi players.
Especially the expensive pieces were overwhelming in their beauty and power!
I could only sigh at the craftsman’s skill and the high design of the pieces.
Please take a look (^-^)
At the restaurant in the back of the facility, you can taste Yamagata soba and the famous imoni.
There are more than 400 seats, and a tatami room is also available.
* The layout may differ depending on measures against COVID.
7. Basic information
① Shogimura Tendo Tower
For details on Shogimura Tendo Tower, please see the Detailed Information below.
[Activity] Tendo City Shogi! Write on your own shogi piece
1,100 yen per person
[Activity] Tendo City Shogi! Carve your own shogi piece
1,870 yen per person
8. Message from the instructor
“I hope you can experience making your own original pieces. We are looking forward to seeing you!”