Go History in Hawaii

Honolulu Go Club was formed in September 2008 by Brian Johnson and Sid Kobashigawa.  Brian Johnson is a teacher at Punahou High School and teaches a for credit semester course called "Buddhism and the Game of Go".  Typically each class has about 25-30 students and there are 3-4 classes per semester.  So there are probably over 2,500 (3,000?) students that took his course.  The club first met at Satura Cakes (until it went bankrupt), then Borders (until it went bankrupt), and to help the economy we stopped meeting at businesses and met at Kewalo Basin Park, Nuuanu Soto Mission, 99 Ranch Market, University of Hawaii then went into hibernation with members meeting at Hawaii Kiin and restarted meeting in November 2021 after covid at Kakaako Waterfront Park and in April 2022 in my garage in Salt Lake in Honolulu.  Korean Baduk professional Myungwan Kim moved to Honolulu in March 2022 and became the club pro providing lectures and simultaneous games.  In 2023 Jiseok Kim and Gangguen Kim (2 times) visited our club.  The club has been promoting the game of Go by participating in numerous community events such as the University of Hawaii Japan Culture Day, Honolulu Festival, Kawai Kon Anime Convention, Geek Meet, Manoa Community Fair, Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii Ohana Festival, Hawaii Korean Chamber of Commerce Korean Festival and a few other events.


Hawaii Kiin (not to be confused with the Honolulu Go Club) is a Go club formed by first generation Japanese immigrants in 1917.  I however have boxes of written history from Hawaii Kiin of Japanese meeting to play Go at homes since pre 1900 to the official formation of the Hawaii Kiin by those same people up to the 21st century so there was some long time unofficial/official record keeping.  Hawaii Kiin is an official branch of the Nihon Kiin although I believe this is not known by the Nihon Kiin since this status was bestowed by a bunch (13) of top Nihon Kiin professionals on their trip to Hawaii.  This club was located at the current JCCH property, then Tachikawa Japanese School on Piikoi St., then Makiki Japanese School on Young St. then Palolo Hongwanji on Palolo Ave.  Many of the members were prominent Issei (Japanese immigrants) and Japanese Americans who were businessmen and professionals.  I am still a member of this club for 51 years and was treasurer for 6 years.  Membership of this club was around 60 in the 1970s when I joined but I was told that pre-war membership was over a hundred.  Unfortunately the membership dwindled as the members passed. The strongest player at this club was Mr. Inagaki.  He received a 2 Dan diploma after playing a 2 stone game (which he lost although he was leading throughout) against Honinbo Shusai (the last hereditary Honinbo).  Hawaii Kiin held 5 tournaments every year which included a lunch (stew & rice) and prizes which were practical things like bags of rice and shoyu.  Many Nihon Kiin professionals visited the club such as Ishida Yoshio, Cho Chikun, Kobayashi Koichi, Kajiwara Takeo, Iwamoto Kaoru, Yamashiro Hiroshi, Magari Reiki, Kobayashi Chizu.  Below are pictures of a congratulatory document on the 50th anniversary of the Hawaii Kiin signed by professionals that came to the celebration in Honolulu such as Rih Kaiho (Meijin), Sakata Eio (23rd Honinbo), Takagawa Shukaku (22nd Honinbo), Segoe Kensaku (teacher of Go Seigen and Cho Hunhyun), Iwamoto Kaoru (Honinbo Kunwa). Maeda Nobuaki (creator of move 160 between Honinbo Shusai and Go Seigen), Fujisawa Hosai (former Oza, Judan) and others.  The Nihon Kiin with assistance of the Hawaii Kiin held the 12th Kisei game 1 (Kobayashi Koichi vs Kato Masao) at the Kaimanu Hotel in 1988, 21st Kisei game 1 (Cho Chikun vs Kobayashi Satoru) at the Ihilani Hotel in 1997, the 10th Women's Honinbo game 1 (Nakazawa Ayako vs Kobayashi Chizu) at the Ilikai Hotel in 1991 and the Richo Cup Final on January 18, 1997 between Kaori Chinen & Satoshi Yuki vs. Akiko Tsukuda & Hideo Otake.  Hawaii Kiin has a rich history in the Go world.


There was also an Okinawan Go Club called the Aloha Go Club.  The club was located in Liliha and shared space with a Judo Dojo.  This club folded in the early 1980s.  I played in some of their tournaments.

There was a Hilo Go Club also formed by Japanese immigrants that also folded I think around 1980.  This club sent all their Go equipment to the Hawaii Kiin.  This club was restarted by Russ Brown.

Maui Go Club was formed by Danny Topp in 2015(?) and meets at shopping malls.

Takao Matsuda, 13 times US Go champion was born on Maui, Hawaii.  Select Japanese who were considered leaders in the community in Hawaii were sent to relocation camps during the war between the US and Japan.  Unlike the mainland US, not all Japanese in Hawaii could be sent to relocation camps due to their large number.  Takao Matsuda's father was a Buddhist priest so his family was sent to a mainland relocation camp.  Matsuda played Go during his time in the camps and developed his Go skills.  I had the fortune to meet Mr. Matsuda at a US Go Congress in Portland and played a tournament game against him.  Later, on one of Takao Matsuda's trips to Hawaii I was glad to visit the Hawaii Kiin when both Mr. Matsuda and Mr. Makishima, a Hawaii Kiin member were playing Go and had a nice conversation with the both of them.  I learned from Mr. Matsuda that Mr. Makishima was one of his Go teachers in the relocation camp.  As fate would have it, Mr. Makishima was also my teacher as I rose up through the Dan ranks in Hawaii.