By Tamami Laser; with Nahoko Osuka reporting from Japan
The Japanese game “shogi” is like chess. Two people play on a board using pieces that resemble dominoes with the goal to capture the opponent’s king. Ningen (human) Shogi with players dressed in traditional costumes is a springtime tradition at the Tendo Sakura Matsuri Festival in Tendo City, Yamagata Prefecture. But what if the game was played with full-size cars?
Toyota and Dwango sponsored the Real-Car Shogi battle on Feb. 8, at the giant Seibu Dome in Saitama Prefecture, Tokorozawa-Shi, Yamaguchi, along with the cooperation of the Japan Shogi Association.
To make the game even more interesting, vintage Toyota models were used as playing pieces including the Corolla Levin AE86 (hachiroku), Land Cruiser 40 Series, second-generation Toyopet Crown, first-generation Prius, MR-S, bB, Altezza, and Vitz.
Current Japanese Toyota models with giant shogi tiles strapped to their roofs included the Crown Athlete, 86, Mirai, Prius, Harrier, iQ, Corolla Axio and Vitz.
The match, that lasted an amazing nine hours, pitted shogi virtuoso Habu Yoshiharu against seventh-level rated Masayuki Toyoshima.
Habu’s classic Toyota tiles were moved during the game by the Waseda University Automotive Division team while Masayuki’s modern Toyotas were moved by Toyota’s elite auto test driver team. Note that even though the drivers were moving slowly on an indoor course, they fastened their seatbelts and used the emergency lights.
Toyota said that half a million viewers watched the game, broadcast live nationwide on Nico, operated by Dwango. Comments from viewers via social media networks were displayed onscreen during the match.
Time will tell whether Real-Car Shogi generated enough clout to become an annual event like Ningen Shogi. Or maybe the cars will be self-driving next time and controlled by a smartphone app?
News source and images courtesy of Toyota Motor Corp.
Story (commentary) © 2015 CarNichiWa.com