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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

"Pellucid & Energetic" Shogi Pieces Delicately Hand Carved On Japanese Boxwood

Here are some photos of a "ryoukobori" style hand carved shogi set. "Ryoukobori" is a particularly delicate calligraphic font style which requires an immense amount of skill and concentration on the part of the craftsman.

I took these photos with the camera on my mobile phone the last time I visited my shogi supplier. We did not take the pieces (shogi-koma) out of their wrappers, so the photos are not the best and there is a lot of reflected light.

Even so, I think you can get a good idea of the quality of workmanship that goes into creating a hand-carved set of shogi pieces.

The shogi pieces photographed here have been carved out of Japanese boxwood ("tsuge"). Japanese boxwood is highly prized by craftsmen for its warm tone and fine grain.

On a high quality set the craftsman carves his name in the rear edge of one of the kings. On even higher quality sets the calligraphic style of the characters is carved on the rear edge of the other king.

In the photo on the left, the upper king has been engraved with "ryoukobori" and the lower king has been engraved with the name of "craftsman Sanpo," one of Japan's top shogi-koma makers.

I recently shipped a set of "ryoukobori" shogi pieces to a customer in America, and this is what he had to say about them when he received them:

"They are absolutely beautiful! You're right, the Japanese boxwood does have a warmer tone to it, also a tighter grain. And I keep wanting to call them "pellucid"-- I know the term doesn't strictly apply to an opaque two-dimensional surface, but as I look at the pieces the word somehow keeps coming into my mind. And the Japanese characters (to this Iowan whose "reading comprehension" of Japanese begins and ends with Shogi pieces!) have a very elegant & energetic look to them...

"The energetic aspect of the kanji on these pieces is something that comes forth more and more strongly to me, the more I look at them. " Paul Burgess

If you would like to order a set of hand carved shogi-koma, check out the range on offer on this page of my website.

As soon as I receive an order I contact my supplier and they will be carefully packed and shipped directly to your door by Express Mail Service from Japan.

David Hurley
Japanese-Games-Shop.com

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