All three of the great Japanese generals, Nobunaga, Hideyoshi, and Iyeyasu, were devotees of the game. It is related that Nobunaga came to Kioto in the tenth year of Ten Sho, 1582 A.D., and lived in the Honnoji Temple. One night the celebrated Go player, Sansha, of whom more hereafter, came and played with him until midnight. Sansha had scarcely taken his departure when the uprising of Akechi Mitsuhide broke out.
In the periods Genki (1570–1572), Ten Sho (1573–1591) until Keicho (1596–1614), and Gen Wa (1615–1623), there were many celebrated players among the monks, poets, farmers and tradespeople. They were called to the courts of the daimios and to the halls of the nobles, either in order that the nobility might play with them, or more frequently merely to exhibit their skill at the game. This custom existed up to the time of the fall of the Shogunate.
That the Japanese could find pleasure in merely watching a game that is so abstract in its nature and so difficult to understand is evidence of the fact that they were then a highly cultivated people intellectually. We find nothing like it in this country except in the narrowest Chess circles.
In the beginning of the seventeenth century Go attained such a high development that there appeared a series of expert players who far surpassed anything known before. Of these the most famous were Honinbo Sansha Hoin, Nakamura Doseki, Hayashi Rigen, Inouye Inseki, and Yasui Santetsu.
Sansha was the son of a merchant of Kioto. When he was nine years old he shaved his head, named himself Nikkai, and became a Buddhist monk in the Temple of Shokokuji, which was one of the principal temples of the