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Full name Meijin
Started 1976
Honorary Winners Cho Chikun
Koichi Kobayashi
Sponsors Asahi
Prize money 36 million Yen ($330,000 USD)
Affiliation Nihon Ki-in

Meijin (名人), literally translated, means "Brilliant Man". It is the name of the second most prestigious Japanese Go Tournament. It also refers to a traditional Japanese title given to the strongest player of the day during the Edo period.

The tournament

The Meijin tournament is sponsored by the Asahi Newspaper, and has prize money of ¥36,000,000 for the winner and ¥10,400,000 for the runner-up.

The Meijin tournament is open to Nihon Ki-in and Kansai Ki-in players. A nine-player league decides the challenger each year. Every year, the three worst-ranked players in the league drop out. Entrance into the league is decided by three preliminaries. The first is between 1-4 dans (6 winners: 4 Nihon ki-in and 2 Kansai ki-in). The second is between 5-9 dans and the six winners (18 winners). The third is between these 18 and the 3 people dropped from the league (3 winners, who enter the league). Komi is 6.5. Time limit is 8 hours each in the title matches and 3 hours in the league and prelims. Byo-yomi is 1 minute per move.


The title of "Meijin" derives from a game played by the first Honinbo, Sansa. An onlooker (no less than Japanese warlord Oda Nobunaga) watched him play a particularly brilliant move and exclaimed "Meijin!" in appreciation of its greatness. The term Meijin was thereafter applied to the strongest player of the day. Sansa, besides being Nobunaga's go tutor, also taught Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who, after taking control, established Sansa as Godokoro, roughly meaning "Head of the Government Go Bureau." The Meijin title came to be greatly prized by all of the most promising Go prodigies of the age, freed from the cares of everyday life by the government stipends coming from the Go Bureau. Most often held by members of the Honinbo school, it was also held by brilliant Yasuis and Inoues. No player from Hayashi house attained Meijin status. The title "Meijin" is also attached to the rank of 9 dan during this period hence there is only one 9-dan/Meijin at a time even if there are many players that are at the strength of a 9 dan. 8-dans in the Edo period are called Jun-Meijin which means half-Meijin which is a rank accorded to sixteen players in the Edo period. After the Meiji Revolution, the four houses fell into disrepair due to the lack of government stipends.

In 1958, the Yomiuri newspaper decided to sponsor a "Strongest Player" tournament to decide the strongest player of the current time. In 1961 the tournament's name was changed to Meijin.

Since they already sponsored the Shogi Meijin tournament, in 1975 the Asahi Newspaper offered to buy the rights to the Meijin tournament from the Yomiuri. After months of debating, the title was sold and the Yomiuri began sponsoring a new title, Kisei (Go Saint).

Historic Meijins

Number Player Years
1st Honinbo Sansa 1612-1623
2nd Inoue Nakamura Doseki 1623-1630
3rd Yasui Sanchi 1668-1676
4th Honinbo Dosaku 1677-1702
5th Inoue Dosetsu Inseki 1708-1719
6th Honinbo Dochi 1721-1727
7th Honinbo Satsugen 1767-1788
8th Honinbo Jowa 1831-1839
9th Honinbo Shuei 1906-1907
10th Honinbo Shusai 1914-1940

Past winners

Year Winner Score Runner-up
1962 Hideyuki Fujisawa 9-3
1963 Eio Sakata 4-3 Hideyuki Fujisawa
1964 Eio Sakata 4-1 Hideyuki Fujisawa
1965 Rin Kaiho 4-2 Eio Sakata
1966 Rin Kaiho 4-1 Eio Sakata
1967 Rin Kaiho 4-1 Eio Sakata
1968 Kaku Takagawa 4-1 Rin Kaiho
1969 Rin Kaiho 4-2 Kaku Takagawa
1970 Hideyuki Fujisawa 4-2 Rin Kaiho
1971 Rin Kaiho 4-2 Hideyuki Fujisawa
1972 Rin Kaiho 4-2 Hideyuki Fujisawa
1973 Rin Kaiho 4-3 Yoshio Ishida
1974 Yoshio Ishida 4-3 Rin Kaiho
1975 Hideo Otake 4-3 Ishida Yoshio
1976 Hideo Otake 4-1 Ishida Yoshio
1977 Rin Kaiho 4-0 Hideo Otake
1978 Hideo Otake 4-2 Rin Kaiho
1979 Hideo Otake 4-1 Eio Sakata
1980 Cho Chikun 4-1-1 Hideo Otake
1981 Cho Chikun 4-0 Masao Kato
1982 Cho Chikun 4-1 Hideo Otake
1983 Cho Chikun 4-1 Hideo Otake
1984 Cho Chikun 4-3 Hideo Otake
1985 Koichi Kobayashi 4-3 Cho Chikun
1986 Masao Kato 4-0 Koichi Kobayashi
1987 Masao Kato 4-0 Rin Kaiho
1988 Koichi Kobayashi 4-1 Masao Kato
1989 Koichi Kobayashi 4-1 Shuzo Awaji
1990 Koichi Kobayashi 4-2 Hideo Otake
1991 Koichi Kobayashi 4-1 Rin Kaiho
1992 Koichi Kobayashi 4-3 Hideo Otake
1993 Koichi Kobayashi 4-1 Hideo Otake
1994 Koichi Kobayashi 4-0 Rin Kaiho
1995 Masaki Takemiya 4-1 Koichi Kobayashi
1996 Cho Chikun 4-2 Masaki Takemiya
1997 Cho Chikun 4-2 Kobayashi Koichi
1998 Cho Chikun 4-2-1 O Rissei
1999 Cho Chikun 4-1 Norimoto Yoda
2000 Norimoto Yoda 4-0 Cho Chikun
2001 Norimoto Yoda 4-2 Rin Kaiho
2002 Norimoto Yoda 4-1 Cho Chikun
2003 Norimoto Yoda 4-1 Keigo Yamashita
2004 Cho U 4-2 Norimoto Yoda
2005 Cho U 4-3 Satoru Kobayashi
2006 Shinji Takao 4-2 Cho U
2007 Cho U 4-3 Shinji Takao
2008 Cho U 4-3 Yuta Iyama
2009 Yuta Iyama 4-1 Cho U
2010 Yuta Iyama 4-0 Shinji Takao
2011 Keigo Yamashita 4-2 Yuta Iyama
2012 Keigo Yamashita 4-3 Naoki Hane
2013 Yuta Iyama 4-1 Keigo Yamashita
2014 Yuta Iyama 4-2 Rin Kono
2015 Yuta Iyama 4-0 Shinji Takao

In fiction

In the manga Hikaru no Go, there is a Meijin called Toya Koyo.