Toyota Real-Car Shogi Battle – Players Use Giant Board and Classic Cars

By Tamami Laser; with Nahoko Osuka reporting from Japan

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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?

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Toyota and Dwango sponsored the Real-Car Shogi battle on February 8 at the giant Seibu Dome in Saitama Prefecture, Tokorozawa-Shi, Yamaguchi, along with the cooperation of the Japan Shogi Association.

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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 86 is called Scion FR-S in America and Toyota GT86 in Europe.)

This video of Real-Car Shogi seems a bit long at 45 minutes, yet consider the fact that the actual match lasted an amazing nine hours. (video: Toyota)


If you don’t have time to watch the entire video (which is only available in Japanese) we’ll translate a few highlights. The match pitted shogi virtuoso Habu Yoshiharu against seventh-level rated Masayuki Toyoshima.

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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.


After a grueling nine hours and 94 rounds, the match was won by…who? We don’t want to give away the answer, so we encourage you to watch the video. Toyota says 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?

Photos and video courtesy Toyota Motor Corp.

Story (text and commentary) © 2015