Jowa (for go history buffs only)

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John Fairbairn

May 16, 1999, 3:00:00 AM5/16/99
I have been working on a character study of Inoue Gen'an Inseki. In the
course of this, Tom Koranda of Plzen kindly sent me a couple of his
games from Kidos I haven't got. On the off chance, he also sent a brief
article from these on Jowa, Gen'an's great rival, which turned out to be
of great interest.

I knew the gist of it, which is that there is doubt about Jowa's
birthplace and name, but the details of the latest research were new to
me. I suspect they will be new to others in the west so I am sharing
them here, along with some of the background.

The starting point is the standard version. In its simplest form this is
summarised in "Go Almanac" (page 34): [Jowa's] "original name was Todani
Matsunosuke; later his family name changed to Kadono." This is probably
wrong in every respect.

The other standard element is where he was born: Edo, Musashi or Shinshu
(all believed for substantial periods, all probably wrong).

Taking these confusions in combination with the fact that no early games
of Jowa remain (unusual for a player of such stature), some historians
suspect he may have deliberately fostered the uncertainties and
inaccuracies. For the whole point of the interest in these details of
Jowa's life is to shed light on his alleged skulduggeries.

The Edo (Tokyo) version of his birthplace was repeated several times in
or close to his own lifetime - Jowa's dates are 1787 to 1847. His pupil
Shiraki Sukeemon, who lived much of his early life in Jowa's house,
wrote a book giving the pedigrees of the go families in which he said
that Jowa "was born in Nihonbashi, Edo. He was the son of a landlord
called Shimaya Hanbee of 1-chome, Muromachi [there]." The Inoue family
had a pupil called Yahata Hansuke who published a book called "Stories
of the Honinbos" in the year that Jowa died (Koka 4 = 1847). In this he
said, "Jowa was born in Toorishio-machi, Edo." Even after the Meiji
Restoration (1868) this was the impression held among go players. The
Honinbo pupil Kawamura Chisoku published his "Observations on Go" in
Meiji 17 (1884) where he said, "My former teacher Jowa was born in Edo."

Jowa himself was notoriously reticent about all of this, even within the
family, but his third son Nakagawa Kamesaburo brought to light another
possibility. He said, "I do not know where my late father was born. But
it seems certain that when he was young he grew up near Kumagaya in
Musashi Province".

This reference to a Musashi origin almost certainly comes from a
Statement of Kinship written by Jowa to support his application to the
Commissioner of Shrines and Temples to become the heir to Honinbo Genjo
in 1819. In this simple document he lists his connections as being
resident in Honjo, Kodama District, Musashi (currently in Saitama
Prefecture, not far from Tokyo). He gives his father as Toya Hanzo,
mother as daughter of Toya Hanbee, and uncles as Toya Hanbee and Kuroda
Magobee. Toya Hanbee is stated to be [officially] surnamed (i.e. of
higher status than most - merchants typically had only trading names
ending in -ya, and this person was the Shimaya Hanbee mentioned above).
The name Toya could be read Todani, but on this see a note below.

What is highly significant about this document (which is preserved in
the "Honinbo Family Annals", though first published in Ando Nyoi's great
compendium of gi history "Zain Danso") is that Jowa signs it:

Toya Jowa, 25 years old in this Year of the Rabbit
Provinces of birth and residence both Musashi
Bunsei 2 [1819], Year of the Rabbit, fifth Month

So we have a straightforward fib in his own hand. He was not 25 but 33
(by the Oriental count) in 1819. There is a later note by Honinbo Josaku
(Genjo's son and Jowa's successor) that confirms this was deliberate,
almost certainly to cover the embarrassment of choosing such an old
heir. What also attracts our attention is the use of the name Toya when,
in many records of his games before he became heir and changed his name
to Honinbo - games he published himself - he is scrupulous about using
the name Kadono Jowa (or Kuzuno; see below) and never uses Toya.
Moreover, both Shiraki and Kawamura state that his child name was Kadono
Matsunosuke. But the reference to the Toya family can probably be
explained by the fact that they would be known, and favoured, by one of
the lords who controlled the appointments in the Godokoro (the office
for shogunal go matters).

Incidentally, the "Zain Danso" version of this document gives the names
Hanzo and Hanbee as Heizo and Heibee, but this appears to be a
misreading of two very similar handwritten characters (han = half, hei =

There was a third possible origin, again introduced by "Zain Danso".
Honinbo Shuei, the family head at the time this book was published, is
quoted as saying that Jowa was the son of a merchant from Mizunuma
District in Shinshu Province (now Nagano Prefecture), rather a long way
from Tokyo. This is accepted as a typo (or brusho?) for Minochi
District, but still it is nowhere near Musashi.

Shuei also mentions a tradition, given in "Zain Danso", that Jowa's
father had dealings with a fish salting wholesaler called Ebara Kanroku
in Honjo, Edo (this is a different Honjo from the one in Musashi), and
that it was through his mediation that the young Jowa was allowed to
enter the Honinbo school. The favour was repaid later when a son of
Ebara was allowed to enter the school of Honinbo Shuwa. For
completeness, there has also been a reference to Jowa's father dealing
in threads.

That is the background, one or other version of which was accepted until
doubts re-emerged recently. These are the questions addressed by the
article new to me in Kido 1989/6 by Osawa Nagahiro.

Its starting point is a huge work on Japanese surnames called the Great
Dictionary of Surnames and Pedigrees (Seishi Kakei Daijiten). It is in
three volumes each about 4 inches thick, and although begun by Ota Ryo
in around 1930 was not published (according to the version I have
consulted) until 1963. It is clearly a work of great scholarship and
none of its statements can be dismissed lightly, although - in the usual
Japanese style - there are no supporting footnotes or the like. It has
irritating inconsistencies too. The name Kadono, the one that interests
us, has 13 sub-heads, but nowhere does it refer to other readings.
Kadono is the commonest, but Kuzuno is common too, and other readings
are Kasai, Kassai, Kazuno, Katsuno, Kadonono and Katsurano.

In contrast, the name Toya/Todani is listed under Toya, with Todani as
an alternative immediately after it but with no further reference there
as to usage. But there is a separate entry for Todani where it says this
is the version of the name associated with Aki Province (i.e. Hiroshima
Prefecture). Since this is nowhere near any of the places mentioned in
our story, I have decided to use Toya. This is, in any case, somewhat
more common statistically (and other possibilities are Totani and

Kadono is explained as a name mainly associated with the village of
Kadono in Kadono District of Yamashiro Province, near Kyoto, from where
it spread to other parts of West Japan. It is uncommon in East Japan,
near Tokyo. Almost as a throwaway line, the last sub-entry says that
there is a Kadono family in Kisho in Izu Province and Honinbo Jowa
issued from there.

Though unsupported in the dictionary, this statement is supported
elsewhere. A father and son pair of Shinto priests who were also
Japanese classical scholars and local historians, called Hagiwara Shohei
and Masao, had apparently investigated Jowa's origins some 10 years
before Ando Nyoi. They were from Izu-Nagaoka but were in charge of the
Awatama Shiratama Hime-no-mikoto shrine in Kisho Port, which they used
to travel to by trekking over the mountains, and they investigated a
local tradition of a family in Nishiura Kisho. This family, still
extant, apparently reads its name Kuzuno. The work of Hagiwara pere et
fils was published in a local history called "Enlarged and Corrected
Writings Dedicated to Izu Province" (Zotei Ishu Shiko). The Jowa story
is given in Volume 13, "Personalities". Local histories in that area
since then have continued to accept this version of events.

If you want to see this on a map of Japan, Nushiura Kisho is now
incorporated into Numazu City, Shizuoka Prefecture. If you look at Izu
Peninsula and follow its western side up to the neck, you will see a
large sail-shaped indentation. Kisho is near the rightmost tip of the
sail. It is a village of little arable land crowded by mountains facing
the shallows of Suruga Bay. In Edo times, there were few harbours in
this area, and Kisho and Mito Port to the north were centres of fishing
and lighterage.

Hagiwara Shohei forged a close relationship with an old man called Aiso
Baisho, who had been headman of the village in Edo times. He also
solicited the help of the Reverend Nichiman who was then chief priest of
a Buddhist temple there, the Chofukuji on Mt. Shoei. This is the family
temple of the Kuzunos.

He used their census and death registers to piece together the story of
Jowa, and the note he got from Baisho, dated Meiji 16 (1883), still
exists - it is photographed in the article.

This note says that he had had a communication from Shohei, who had gone
to Tokyo to investigate Jowa, and that Jowa was the second son of the
6th head of the Kuzuno family, Shichiemon. This Shichiemon appears to
have been an "isaba" or fish merchant in the Tenmei and Kansei eras
(1781-1801) on a scale substantial enough to have two or three employees
or servants.

Given the local conditions, Osawa speculates that an isaba here would be
buying fish from the head fisherman and salting and drying it for
dealing with the wholesalers based in Nihonbashi and Honjo in Edo. This
tallies with the statement by Honinbo Shuei, though recall that Shuei
refers to the father coming from a mountain village in Shinshu.

If we assume that Izu was the birthplace of Jowa, we can reappraise some
of the other elements in the Jowa story. First Toya Hanbee. He had a
descendant called Hannosuke who clarified to Osawa the relationship
between Jowa and the Toyas.

The Toya family lived, in the Kansei, Kasei and Tenpo eras (1789-1844)
in what is now Honjo City, Saitama Prefecture. They dealt in draperies
and sundry goods (tallying with the story of Jowa's father dealing also
in threads). They were great landowners and counted as the richest
family in the Eight Provinces of East Japan, but being merchants had low
status. They improved this to some degree by acquiring the right to bear
a surname and carry a sword. When young, Jowa was apparently once
employed in one of their shops called Nakaya. He was later allowed by
Toya Hanbee to live in the Edo branch of their shop called Shimaya,
which gave him his entree to the Honinbo school. There is no evidence of
the Toya family being specially interested in go, and this may be where
Ebara Kanroku comes in - probably he was part of their setup and was the
one who played go keenly.

It seems that Toya Hanbee also used his great wealth to push the claims
of Jowa with Lord Mizuno of Dewa for the Meijin-godokoro (the top
position in the go world). In his diary (Nakaya Hanbee Eitai Nikki, kept
by the Toya family), there is an entry in Tenpo 2 (1831) which
celebrates the accession of Jowa to this post, with a copy of the
certificate listing the authorising Privy Councillors, including Lord
Mizuno. At the very least this proves the strong links between the Toya
family and Jowa, and we can see a good reason for Jowa using the name
Toya in his dealings with officialdom.

This Toya family also had strong links with Minochi District in Shinshu
Province. Following usual practice to ensure loyalty, it used many
veteran employees from that area in its Edo businesses, to the extent
that they were known as the Minochi Army. That and the shop Shimaya
account for yet other elements in the traditional versions.

We have to assume some grosser discrepancies in the traditional account
to fully accept this modern version, but Jowa's known duplicity and
strange retinence do not make this difficult. But, interesting as Jowa
is to the go world, he is not the stuff of everyday discourse so it is
hard to get a feel as to what is currently accepted.

I can only observe that the great Hayashi Yutaka, writing his Jowa
volume in the Nihon Taikei series in 1976, seemed unaware of the Izu
connection and stuck to the name Kadono. And he died in 1986 - before
the article in question. But in the preface to the 1991 book "Gowan
Jowa", the professional Takagi Shoichi gives the reading of the name as
"Kadono or Kuzuno" and says the while there are various theories as to
Jowa's birthplace, the evidence of recent research that it was Izu is

(c) John Fairbairn, London 1999. I will post a version of this on
my/GoGoD's homepage after a suitable period to
allow for corrections etc. Any comments/questions to r.g.g., not me
direct, please.

John Fairbairn

Robert Jasiek

May 17, 1999, 3:00:00 AM5/17/99
John Fairbairn wrote:

Another excellent study.

robert jasiek

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