The classical Japanese board game Go is deeply strategic. A single match can last hours, and in the case of top-ranking professionals, days, or even months. But while this complexity makes the game all the more intriguing for adult players, it can also make it intimidating and inaccessible for kids, who often start off playing simplified versions such as Gomoku Narabe or Reversi.
Similarly, Go’s aesthetics of stark black and white stones on a plain wooden board are often seen as pleasingly elegant by adults, but don’t really do much to excite children. So in order to provide a little more visual stimulation, there’s now a Gomoku Narabe set featuring anime’s most famous robot cat, Doraemon.
Unlike in Go, where the goal is to control as much territory on the board as possible, the object of Gomoku Narabe is simply to line up five stones of the same color in a row.
Standard Gomoku Narabe rules don’t allow for capturing of an opponent’s pieces, and in general the game is quicker than Go and also uses up less board space, making it easier to gauge the overall flow of the contest. As such, the wooden Doraemon set’s board has a square grid of only seven lines, as opposed to the 19 found on a Go board. Measuring 165 millimeters (6.5 inches) on side, it’s also compact enough for little kids to easily handle.
Instead of two piles of dedicated black and white Go stones, the set features dual-sided discs painted with Doraemon’s smiling face and bulb-tipped tail.
The set normally sells for 3,240 yen (US$32.10), but can currently be purchased here from Amazon Japan for a discounted price of 2,643 yen. That’s enough of a savings to pay for a couple of Doraemon cream buns , although to be honest, considering how bland they were, you might find more flavor in the wooden playing pieces.
▼ We still wouldn’t recommend eating them, though, unless for some reason you’re really in the mood to get splinters in your tongue.
Images: Amazon Japan