• Tendo Sato Kei Shoten Image
  • Tendo Sato Kei Shoten Image
  • Tendo Sato Kei Shoten Image

About Tendo Sato Kei Shoten

Showroom Showroom The exterior of Studio

Artifact Information

Artifact NameTendo Shogikoma : Woodwork
History Historically, the vast majority of koma pieces were produced in the city of Tendo in Yamagata Prefecture.
Nowadays, with modern mass-production techniques putting large quantities of low quality koma out into the world, craftsman who can carve koma with the traditional Tendo calligraphy are few and far between.
In 1996, Tendo Shogi Koma were designated a traditional craft of Japan.
The koma people that used to play with have become true works of art!

The Traditional Craftsman Profile

Craftsman Name
Minoru Sato
Born in Tendo, Yamagata Prefecture
Was tasked with engraving and touch-ups on decorative koma in the family trade
Learned techniques for play koma engraving while watching the previous generation at work.
ReBecame representative director for Sato Kei Shoten, Inc.
Became managing director for Tendo Shogi Koma Association.
Became senior managing director for Tendo Shogi Koma Association.
Took leadership of Koma Manufacturing, Inc, making go and shogi boards.
Received 24th Tendo City Artisan of Merit award.
Retired from Tendo Shogi Koma Association board.
Renamed business to Tendo Sato Kei Shoten.

Manufacturing Method

1. Preparing the wood
Working view A boxwood plank is dessicated for many years, then cut into koma-sized rectangles. From there, forty rectangles with similar grain patterns are chosen, and cut into the familiar five-sided shape.
2. Creating the label paper
The characters for each of the 40 koma are written on thin paper.
3. Carving the letters
Working view When the paper is finished, the symbols are cut out one at a time, stuck to the koma wood, clamped to the carving stool, then carved one by one with a seal-engraving knife.
4. Carving out
Working view Once the 40 characters are carved in, rust varnish made from a mixture of polishing powder and lacquer tree sap is painted into the engraving.
※As the varnish settles and dries, the process is repeated over and over again until the engraving is filled and the surface is flat.
5. Enameling
Once the carving is filled in, the lacquer is left to dry and then it is polished with sandpaper. After smoothing with fine-grain sandpaper, the surface is enameled.
6. Polishing
Using a metallic laquer brush, the character is piled upon with laquer so that it seems to rise up from the koma.
※Piling the laquer so that it is three-dimensional yet even requires the skill of a master.
Proper finishing creates the kind of high-quality koma used by professional shogi players.

What is Shogi and Shogi Koma?

Shogi is played on a 9x9 board, with two players controlling 20 koma (pieces) each. As in chess, the objective for each player is to capture the other player's king.
Shogi first developed around the 11thcentury, when the ancient Indian game Chaturanga was brought to Japan through China. The practice of writing characters on the koma to differentiate them is original to Japan. The asymmetrical five-sided shape of the koma allows players to tell which pieces belong to whom.
※Weight of play koma, decorative koma, and shogi boards will vary based on material, as well as how much is hollowed out.

Names of Playing Koma

Osha x2 (King)
Kinsho x2 (Gold General)
Ginsho x4 (Silver General)
Kakugyo x2 (Bishop)
Hisha x2 (Rook)
Keima 4 (Knight)
Kyosha x4 (Lance)
Fuhyo x18(Pawn)

NHK Cup Shogi Tournament

The NHK Cup is a shogi tournament held by Japan's public broadcasting organization, NHK that is shown on NHK. First established in 1951 as radio program, they began showing it on TV starting in 1962.
50 players will participate this year, including 49 men and one woman. The competition will be recorded at NHK's TV studio, and broadcast every year once a week from April to March of the next year.

Location & Address

■ 天童佐藤敬商店: Tendo Sato Kei Shoten

Home page Signboard
Postal code
1-7-17 Tazurucho Tendou Yamagata
Business hours
8:00 - 18:00
Sundays / National holidays