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Sakata Sankichi

Sakata Sankichi (1870-1946)

Sakata SankichiPhotograph:Henomatsu Human Rights History Museum

A master who defined an era with a spirit of defiance
Born in Henomatsu-mura, a village in Otori-gun, Sakata Sankichi memorized the Japanese game of shogi (Japanese chess) while watching it played by adults in the alleyways of his youth. He exhibited an almost miraculous strength in the game, deploying richly imaginative moves whose potential vastly exceeded the more conventionally accepted playbook. He was extremely successful in the achievement-based world of competitive shogi, and he came to typify the times along with Sekine Kinjiro, whom he considered a worthy opponent.

In 1955, he was posthumously awarded the ranks of Master and King by the Japan Shogi Association. The character for "horse" inscribed on the lid of Sakata's favorite shogi board seems to overflow with the energy of a horse's whinny.


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