Episode 2. [Introduction] ~ Formation, Association and Birth of a Mahjong「Pro」~➁(Babby’s New・「Professional Theory」)

Check Mahjong No Jan-Ryu for the original article.

*Translation of the original article start below*

This article is from one of monthly magazine “Mahjong Kai”’s popular articles called Babby’s New・「Professional Theory」. Below will be a special post from the magazine that was released on the「March 1st, 2016 Edition」(Bold and colored fonts were added for the purpose of this site)

▼▼▼ Baba Pro’s article follows below ▼▼▼

The beginning of this month (February), I had a chance to eat with someone involved in the community while interviewing them for this article.

During the meeting, there was a “news” that came in quite a shock.

The passing of Gaishyo Furukawa.

I was lost for words when I heard about the passing of someone so great and helped build the modern professional Mahjong community.  

My deepest condolences goes out to him and his family.


Meeting Kyoichiro Noguchi

This is picking up from last time.

I was in high school when I first visited Takeshobou.

That was the day I was brought to the president’s, Kyoichiro Noguchi’s office.

He probably had interest in the high school student with a stand-up collar, who came to buy Kindai Mahjong.

I remember he had a lot of questions regarding Mahjong.

But at the time, I wasn’t fully able to answer all the questions.

But even so, Mr. Noguchi was kind enough to explain me the importance of education. He also gave me many books and goods that were unrelated to Mahjong as presents when I left.

“Come visit us again when you don’t have school.”

Taking Mr. Noguchi’s words literally, and during either summer vacation or winter vacation, I often visited Kindai Mahjong’s editorial department.

Starting with chief editorial staff, Kazuhiro Okada,  everybody in the editorial team and the sales team took care of me very well.

Rather than having affection towards Kindai Mahjong itself, I think I was loving the environment of the editorial department because they were making the actual magazines.

At some point, I was even starting to help some of their operations.

The operations were simple, such as sorting out the letters and writing the attentions on the outgoing mails.

This was my first job in my life.

At the time, Takeshobou had two Mahjong oriented magazines published.

It was “Kindai Mahjong” and “Mahjong Kenkyu”.

Also known as Jong Ken (abbreviating the Jong from Mahjong and Ken from Kenkyu) Mahjong Kenkyusha had special events, columns and comics that Kindai Mahjong didn’t offer at the time. I might get scolded later, but it felt like a refined version of Kindai Mahjong.


Work That Was Possible Because of Mahjong

Mr. H, one of the editors from Jong Ken asked me a random question while I was working one day.

“Hey Baba, are you able to take Pai-Fu?”

Pai-fu? What’s a Pai-fu?

When I asked, I was told that it was the hand and scribe recordings of a Mahjong match.

It was because they needed someone to fill in for the usual recorder, since that person called in sick.

“Please let me do it!”

“But you’ve never done it before, right?”

“Please teach me how!”

Mr. H had a difficult face on, but he either gave in because of my strong will power or maybe he was too busy to look for someone else, but he gave me a lecture on how to record Pai-Fu.

It was a crash course that took about an hour.

But for someone that was really into Mahjong, that was a full hour of pure excitement.

Then I was put into a car, and went to the recording studio.

This match was hosted by a really famous illustrator and was going to be published.

It was only for a single Han-Chan match.

I was so focused on every drawl and discard, and recorded everything like a crazy person.

Maybe it was due to the excessive concentration, but after the match ended, I remember I felt a little unconscious.

“You did a good job.”


A Win-Win Result

Well I was just dozing off, Mr. H gave me an envelope.

“What is this?”

“It’s the Pai-Fu fee. Basically, it’s your pay check for taking the recordings.”

I see, so this gig pays separately.

Since I thought this was an extension of what I usually do wat work, I had a weird feeling when opening the envelope.

And I was shocked when I saw the amount.

There was 5000 Yen inside.

At the time, an average high schoolers’ wage was around 300 Yen per hour.

It was an era where you can only get about 2000 Yen to 2500 after a whole days work.

So earning 5000 Yen from taking the Pai-Fu for a Han-Chan (about an hour), was equivalent to 20000 Yen in today’s amount. By earning such a high amount, it’s no surprise that a high school student would be shocked when opening the envelope.

Looking back at it, it could have been due to the fact that not too many people were able to take Pai-Fu.

It can also be said that it was the dawn of the media in Mahjong.

For me, watching a live Mahjong match and taking recordings of it, and earning money on top of that was the best job possible.



And the Transition to “Competitive Mahjong”

So this “High School Pai-Fu Taker” started taking recordings for other magazines and newspapers aside from Kindai Mahjong and Mahjong Kenkyu. At the time, Pai-Fu recorders were mostly done by college students. After meeting them multiple times at jobsites, I was able to get close to some of them.

Many of them wanted to be “Mahjong Professionals”.  At the time, my image of a “Mahjong Professional” was very vague, but after listening to their Mahjong theory and their vision of the Mahjong community as a whole, my interest grew day by day. “They” are the leaders in today’s Professional Mahjong community. 

By taking their suggestions and invites, I started participating in Mahjong events and Mahjong study groups (circles). 

I was at the gateway to the so called “Competitive Mahjong” scene.

[ Kyoichiro Noguchi] Established Takeshobou in 1972. President and representative director. Became chairman in 1988. Established Mahjong Meuseum in 1999.

Published the Mahjong specific magazine, “Gekkan Kindai Mahjong” and started a new scene in the Mahjong community. Later published manga/comics, novels and other magazines and created a foundation as a publisher for “Mahjong Giga”.

Established the world’s first Mahjong Meuseum in 1999 at Isami-Gun Misaki-Machi in Chiba prefecture (Currently Isami-Shi). By collecting priceless Mahjong tiles and related documents, various amounts of historical artifacts were collected and preserved. On October 7th, 2010, he passed away in a hospital in Shinjuku, Tokyo due to rectal cancer. He was 76 years old.

(To be continued)

▲▲▲ Baba Pro’s article ends here▲▲▲

Click Here for Episode 1.

Click Here for Episode 3.