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Shogi 30 January 2017

Why Professional Shogi Players wear Kimono for Formal Occasions

Nae Kanamoto

“Sunday best clothes” is what we wear for important occasions. In the world of Shogi, similarly, there are matches where players dress differently.

As you may already know, players wear Kimono for title matches.

Professional players wear Kimono for special occasions
Professional players wear Kimono for special occasions

There is no official rule that players should wear Kimono for title matches. Nevertheless, most players, both males and females dress in Kimono by tacit consent for title matches.

For your information, though Igo is also traditional Japanese culture, most Igo players wear suits for title matches, and ones in Kimono are minorities.

Surely, male players look even more dignified and ladies appear to be far more gorgeous in Kimono. Wearing something special is a sign of their fighting spirit.

Meanwhile, there seems to be a negative aspect about wearing Kimono for title matches. Players may not be able to concentrate in games since they hardly dress in Kimono daily and thus they find Kimono discomfortable and disturbing.

Then, why do professional Shogi players wear Kimono for title matches?

To find answers for the question, we need to go back to the Edo period.
When the Shogi head families played Shogi in front of Shogun general in his castle, players wore Samue, Buddhist priest’s work clothes which were acceptable for occasions with noble people. It is said the above was the origin of the custom that Shogi players dress in Kimono for formal games.

Reference: “Shogikai no Fushigi na Shikumi: Puro Kishi toiu Shigoto” (Mysterious system of Shogi world: Occupation as a professional Shogi player) written by Teruichi Aono Published by Sogensha Inc.

In short, “Oshiro Shogi (castle Shogi),” the official Shogi game that was played in the Edo Castle by the Shogi families yearly, was a start of Shogi players’ wearing Kimono for formal games. Players needed to be conscious of public appearance.

Akiko Nakakura, our president, also wears Kimono for Shogi events frequently. She dresses in Kimono since she has a strong will to let audience know that Shogi is traditional Japanese culture, and also to entertain people watching games. Surely many people enjoy professional Shogi players dressed in Kimono.

Winning a match is an essential mission for professional Shogi players. Additionally, as another important role assigned on them, they may need to entertain their fans and supporters, and be a dream maker for children who show interest in Shogi.

Professional Shogi players dress in Kimono to entertain audience.
Professional Shogi players dress in Kimono to entertain audience.

Some of you may think that only pros have opportunities to play Shogi in Kimono since I have talked a lot about professional Shogi players, title matches and Kimono. As a matter of fact, however, amateur players can also enjoy Shogi in Kimono. Especially quite a few young ladies who participate in team games dress in Kimono. All the team members put on Kimono. That sounds fun.

It may be a little difficult to wear Kimono daily, but I recommend that you wear Kimono for Shogi tournaments. Shogi tournament is not a serious title match, but still a special occasion. So, why don’t you put on something special on a special day being a center of attention?
You may feel positive tension and enjoy Shogi differently.

この記事の執筆者Nae Kanamoto

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