Nihongo (Shogi) Lesson 08/18/15

Learn Japanese and about the brain-melting strategy game of shogi!

By John Bae September 18, 2015

Welcome to the Nihongo Lesson feature. We strive to give you useful manga-based Japanese language tips and maybe even a glimpse into the translation process. This week's lesson will focus on terms from our newest JUMP START series, Mononofu. This series is all about the ancient and complicated Japanese board game, shogi. Shogi is similar to chess, but it also has its own unique characteristics. You won't become a shogi master in this lesson, but it can be your first step. Hopefully we can all learn more about shogi along with the main character of Mononofu!


Let's first figure out what the name of the manga actually means! It turns out that MONONOFU is an alternate reading of the word BUSHI, which means “samurai,” or in a more general sense, a warrior. With shogi being a game of war, MONONOFU as a title must signify that the main character is going to become a board game samurai. He probably has a long way to go to get to that level though. The FU character in the title is also part of the word for the pawn piece in shogi.

Nl Generalknowledge 1

SHOGI (しょうぎ)

The word SHOGI is made up of the kanji characters for “general” and “game.” The players are basically generals controlling soldiers on the board in order to defeat the opponent’s army. This is just like chess, and there’s a reason for that! Both chess and shogi, along with a number of other board games, share a common origin. Starting in India in the sixth century, these games spread north to China and then eventually to both Japan and Europe. These board games went through constant rule changes until they became what we play today.

Nl Generalknowledge 2

Get more tips by listening to our PODCAST!