Shawn Dinh: Doshisha Shogi Circle

During my time here in Kyoto, I chose to join Doshisha University’s Shogi Circle for my CIP. The main motivation for joining the Shogi Circle was because I never played Shogi in the past, so I really wanted to learn the rules and strategies of the game. I had heard about it before and that it could be compared to chess, which I do enjoy playing, so I wanted to learn.

All the members of the circle were very friendly and receptive of this complete novice joining them. In my first session, since I did not know the rules, I just observed the other members during their match. Then, one of the members took the time to sit down with me and teach me the rules of the game. Since we only conversed in Japanese and I had never learned the Japanese vocabulary for technical terms in Shogi, it was a bit of a challenge to learn everything, but I got the gist of it and was soon able to properly play the game.

Then, subsequent meetings involved me playing Shogi matches against other members of the club and usually losing. I did not know any of the strategies of the game, so I was not very good, but the members were all very kind when explaining how I should play next time or what types of attacks to look out for when playing. As such, it was great learning how receptive the Japanese members of the club were to a complete beginner, calmly taking the time to help me improve my Shogi skills through our matches and setting up Shogi puzzles/problems for me.

In addition, in between matches I often tried to strike up conversations with the Japanese members about non-Shogi related topics, such as recommendations of things to do in Japan, how they celebrate Halloween (which I asked while in my Halloween costume the day of the circle’s activities), their own experiences traveling abroad, and about the image they had of Americans. One of my purposes for studying abroad was to just connect and learn from many different people and take in a wealth of knowledge and opinions, so I really enjoyed these moments of my CIP.

I really valued the time spent in my CIP at Doshisha University’s Shogi Circle. Not only have I learned how to play Shogi (which I hope to keep practicing and improve even when returning home), but I got the chance to just converse with local Japanese students and learn from their experiences and viewpoints. It was a fun time, and for me, there is no higher praise than that.