I recently came across 西洋将棋 as a translation for Chess and was wondering how common it is. The reference I have describes it as a "dated term" and I have mostly seen chess translated as チェス.

In a similar vein, I learned 象棋 to refer to the Chinese game Xiangqi but came across this word 中国将棋 as a possibility.

There's a nice sort of symmetry here, since in English we often refer to Shogi (将棋) as "Japanese Chess" and Xiangqi as "Chinese Chess".

1 Answer 1


Chess is always called チェス in modern Japanese. 西洋将棋 would simply sound confusing. Someone who heard 西洋将棋 may wonder if you are referring to something other than that chess everyone knows. According to 青空文庫全文検索, チェス was already the default word 100 years ago.

As for xiangqi, this game itself is little-known, so I can say almost nothing from my personal experience. According to Wikipedia, シャンチー, 象棋, 中国将棋 and 中国象棋 are used. Japanese xiangqi players mainly use シャンチー, but if the listener doesn't know xiangqi (which is likely), 中国将棋 should be a reasonable option.

Unsurprisingly, as an umbrella term for chess-like games, English speakers say "chess-like", Japanese speakers say "shogi-like" (将棋類), and Chinese speakers say "xiangqi-like" (象棋類).

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