Episode 5. [Introduction] ~ Formation, Association and Birth of a Mahjong「Pro」~⑤(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「June 1st, 2016 Edition」(Bold and colored fonts were added for the purpose of this site)

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

Creating a Revolotion in the Industry

The Mahjong Meijin Sen was established in 1970 (Year 45 of the Showa Era).

This was Japan’s first Mahjong Title Match where the media hosted. The two main factors are the following.

①Publishing the commentaries as a product on a for-profit publication. 
②Selecting a single representative from the main amateur Mahjong organizations.

What we need to put the spotlight on ②.

Why did the host (Shyukan Taishyuu) decide to bring players from other organizations to the Meijin Sen stage.

I personally believe that there was a master plan in the minds of editors Mr. Y and Mr. M and Tetsuya Asada. And that master plan was to “Create Mahjong Talents/Celebrities”.

At the time, the 3 main Mahjong organizations were Nihon Pro Mahjong Renmei, Nihon Pai Gi In and Nichon Mahjong Dou Renmei.

Articles and events for newspaper magazines, Mahjong entry and strategy books, Mahjong classes and Mahjong events were all run by one of the main 3 organizations.

And that was only natural. There were no “Mahjong Professionals” that were publically acclaimed at that time.

And all the amateur organizations had some kind of ranking system, and the higher ranked players had some authority to it, which probably had some influence as well.

As a side note, the begineer guide to Mahjong book that I bought was published by one of the high ranked players from one of the amateur organizations.

So in an era where Mahjong Hou-Rou-Ki and 11PM Mahjong Class fans were obsessed about Mahjong, and a Mahjong boom was about to erupt, what did Mr. Y, Mr. M and Tetsuya Asada come up with.

This is just my guess, but I believe that they were planning to flip the entire Mahjong community upside down. To flip it around, was essentially to create a “revolution”.

If we go in detail, Takeo Kojima was the first Meijini after showcasing a high level Mahjong.

To destroy the old-style “authority” and create a new wave of Mahjomng Players/Talent/Celebrity to the Mahjong community was the core reasoning behind the establishment of the Meijin-Sen. At least that is what I believe.


The Real Reasoning Behind the Revolution

Why did they have to go out of their way to create this “revolution”?

I can say this now, but everyone (high ranked players from the 3 main organizations) started out as amateurs, right? I mean, we are amateurs too, but the amount of Mahjong we play here is second to none. 
Even if someone says they have been playing for 10 years, most of them only play once a week, or even once a month. We work at a Mahjong Club everyday and we also play everyday, so if you compare us with them with the same ruler, our experience would be equivalent to 50 or 100 years based off of their standards. So Asada-Sensei knew that too, and thought it would be fun to bring them out (to the Meijin-Sen) and show them who was boss.
(Takeo Kojima・Excerpts from the MONDOTV Special Interview)

Tetsuya Asada was 41 years old and Takeo Kojima was 34 years old at the time.

Maybe because they were young and hot-blooded, it can be said that they couldn’t approve the high ranked players from the amateur organizations.

And it was the dawn of the Mahjong boom.

It’s not hard to imagine that the smart editors, Mr. Y and Mr. M were thinking of opening up a new Mahjong market or monopolize it to a certain degree. But in order to do that, they had to create a new Mahjong community to replace the old system.

That is the “revolution” they wanted to create with the Meijin-Sen.

But the end result was not what Mr. Y and Mr. M had planned.

This is because Takeo Kojima didn’t win it.

It wasn’t enough to dethrone the old power authority.

But even so. Takeo Kojima’s Mahjong and its Pai-Fu amazed fans.

It is safe to say that Takeo Kojima’s Mahjong play style made it “well displayed product”.

Although the “revolution” didn’t happen as planned, there was a new movement after the Mejin-Sen.


And the Birth of “Shin-Sen-Gumi”...

 So the event (Meijin-Sen) ended, and we had a get together with close friend to celebrate. During that, Asada-Sensei brought up the idea to create the Mahjong Shin-Sen-Gumi (Shin-Sen-Gumi is an important group in Japanese history, as they tried to dethrone the Samurai/Shogun ranks) . Asada-Sensei mentioned he was looking for one more person for the group. And that is when he called Gaishou Furukawa.
 Gaishou was interested when he heard of the idea, so we formed the group with us three. Asada-Sensei was Isami Kondo, I was Toshizou Hijikata, and Gaishou was Souji Okita. (Comparison of the members of the historical Shin-Sen-Gumi members) This was the image we had, and that concept was very popular. It was probably because it was an obscure group at the time.
 (Takeo Kojima・From the same interview)

This was the birth of the Mahjong Talent/Celebrity group called Mahjong Shin-Sen-Gumi. And this Mahjong Shin-Sen-Gumi had various impacts on the media.

And obviously to the Mahjong media too.

It was to a point where Mahjong Focused Magazines started to get published. “Pro Mahjong Nyumon”(Pro Mahjong Entry/by Shinhyoushya) and “Kindai Mahjong”(Modern Mahjong/by Takeshobou) were some notable ones.

And this Mahjong Shin-Sen-Gumi is what became the seed to the present Mahjong Professionals and modern day Professional Mahjong scene.


(To be continued)

▲▲▲ Baba Pro’s article ends here▲▲▲

Click Here for Episode 4.