The Way Of Tori Shogi

Miyamoto Musashi's Approach

Tori Shogi is Similar to Shogi, and…

Tori Shogi is Similar to Shogi, and…


  • As with all variants in the Japanese shogi family, Tori Shogi is played with wooden or plastic elongated 5-sided pieces, traditionally marked with Kanji characters for each piece. The board is uncolored with spaces defined by vertical and horizontal lines. Four large dots indicate the promotion zones.
  • The pieces lie horizontally on the board with the apex of each piece pointing in the direction the piece is moving. Shogi has 20 pieces per side on a 9×9 board. Tori Shogi has 16 pieces per side on a 7×7 board.
  • In Tori Shogi, as in Shogi, after a piece is captured, it can be brought back into play by the player who made the capture, and the direction of the apex indicates which side this piece is now on.

and . . .

  • With 32 pieces on a 7×7 board, the Tori Shogi playing field is confined. With captures and pieces brought back through drops, the confinement remains during the game and often plays a significant part in the outcome.
  • In Tori Shogi a capture can be made on the first move by either side. This is a common opening sequence, quickly providing one or both sides with pieces to drop.
  • Volumes have been written on the opening sequences of both Chess and Shogi for players to study and memorize. Tori Shogi, on the other hand, requires on-the-spot thinking and planning. This immediate capture-or-be-captured scenario means that intricate openings and complex castle-building are rarely used in Tori Shogi.
  • Tori Shogi pieces are named after birds, rather than weapons or military figures.
  • There are radically different movements of the Tori Shogi pieces, even when compared to other shogi variants, including asymmetrical pieces that move differently depending on which side of the board they begin.
  • Up to two Swallows (the Tori Shogi equivalent of Pawns) are allowed on each file, beginning at the initial setup.


Next Steps…

For more information on the game, its history and strategies, and annotated historic games, please visit our website at, where you can purchase The Way of Tori Shogi.

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