The Beginning of the San Francisco Go Club


During the 1930’s, one man named Yokotta, was instrumental in promoting the interests of the San Francisco Go Club to a very considerable extent. In fact, he is one of the principle benefactors in the club’s history. Mr. Yokotta was postmaster of the Japanese ship, “Assama Maru,” traveling between Yokohama and San Francisco. He was an avid Go player, about shodan in strength, and whenever he came to San Francisco he would stop by the Go club for a few days before his ship returned to Japan.

At the club he made many friends and was so impressed with the members’ Go spirit that he felt determined to use his influence with the still embryonic Nihon Ki-in to establish the San Francisco Go Club as an overseas chapter. At that time, this was a very unusual idea. The Nihon Ki-in was a strictly national organization and had no overseas contacts at all. Nevertheless, Mr. Yokotta convinced the right people to look beyond the national level, and on October 1st, 1936, the San Francisco Go Club became the first overseas branch of the Nihon Ki-in (see image above).

At that time the club was given the name “Nihon Ki-in Soko Shibu” (Japan Go Association San Francisco Branch). Meijin Honinbo Shusai the 21st, the last hereditary master of the house of Honinbo (about whom the “Master of Go” was written), on hearing the news was so pleased that a gave a large-scale commemorative example of his masterful calligraphy (see image below) as a present for the new branch, as inspiration. Mr. Yokotta brought both the branch charter and the calligraphy on his next trip to San Francisco, where they were framed and are still preserved.