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Fujisawa Shuko, 9-dan and dan/kyu certificates
The spat between Fujisawa Hideyuki and the Nihon Ki-in is escalating. The Ki-in (the guild that represents most professional players) has made public a letter from its Managing Director intended, he said, to get Fujisawa to desist from issuing his own diplomas and to start talking.

Fujisawa had previously declared that he would leave the Ki-in and issue his own diplomas at half the Ki-in price.

The text of the Nihon Ki-in letter, dated 7 December 2000, was:

"The following is our opinion on the letter of resignation recently issued by Fujisawa Hideyuki and his issue of diplomas.

The determination of grades and the issue of diplomas by the Nihon Ki-in have been a fixture ever since its formation [in 1924] and are a major foundation in the articles of association governing its operation as a legal entity. The level of their value and the method of determination are acknowledged as most important topics relating to the very existence of the operation of the Ki-in.

There is a danger that the determination of grades and issue of diplomas by Fujisawa Hideyuki as an individual just announced will cause confusion with the aims of the articles of association, and the Ki-in therefore strongly requests that he acts prudently towards us.

For the time being we shall hold the letter of resignation issued on 22 November in abeyance."

What this sort of letter usually means in Japan is that the Nihon Ki-in will have marshalled major personalities in business and politics to talk Fujisawa out of his plans. He is almost certainly being bombarded heavily behind the scenes, and the letter is meant as an opportunity for him to save face. They are, however, dealing with a Class 1 maverick, so the dispute may have some interesting twists yet to come.


The legendary Fujisawa Hideyuki, honorary Kisei, has parted company with the Nihon Ki-in, according to a report by the Asahi Shinbun on 29 November 1999. The report says that Fujisawa is to set up a business to issue his own diplomas to amateurs amid criticisms that the Nihon Ki-in has lost touch with amateurs and is charging too much for its own diplomas.

He will assess a player's grade on the basis of games sent in to him, and issue a diploma signed as head of his own private school. His fees are not mentioned, but the Asahi says current Nihon Ki-in diplomas start at 30,000 yen for 1-dan, and sales have fallen from a peak of 20,000 a year in 1974 to 7-8,000.

Fujisawa is hardly likely to be doing this for the money, however. Already wealthy from winning most of the major tournaments, he has been a shrewd investor in real estate. But he has always been larger than life, enjoying the fame of his drinking exploits but also bravely standing out in favour of underdogs.

He retired from active play in 1998, aged 73, because he was losing too much weight in tournamemt games - having survived two bouts of cancer, he had no pounds left to shed, he said. But he has never been far from the headlines or his legions of fans since.

He is a noted calligrapher, and has had several exhibitions of his work shown. At the very least we can expect his diplomas to become collector's items.

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