A Tribute to Japan's Grand Prix History

Posted in Event Coverage on July 22, 2018

By Chapman Sim

Happy 66th!

Wait a second, isn't this Magic's 25th birthday? What's up with 66?

Grand Prix Chiba, was in fact, the 66th Grand Prix to take place in Japan throughout twenty-five years of Magic. Here is the complete list of each and every Grand Prix to have taken place in Japan, 65 to date, the 66th being today's Grand Prix Chiba. Not only do we celebrate Magic's 25th year, we also honor the Japan and its Magic community for being one of the strongest nations the game has ever seen.

Grand Prix Format Champion
Tokyo 1997 Limited Kenichi Fujita
Kyoto 1999 Limited Yoshikazu Ishii
Tohuku 1999 Limited Higashino Masayuki
Kyushu 1999 Block Constructed Tadayoshi Komiya
Nagoya 2000 Team Limited Alex Shvartsman
Trevor Blackwell
Nick Wong
Sapporo 2000 Limited Satoshi Nakamura
Kyoto 2000 Extended Tsuyoshi Fujita
Hiroshima 2001 Limited Masayuki Higashino
Yokohama 2001 Team Limited Chris Benafel
Ryan Fuller
David Williams
Kobe 2001 Block Constructed Itaru Ishida
Shizuoka 2001 Limited Kohei Yamadaya
Sendai 2001 Extended Kazuaki Arahori
Fukuoka 2002 Limited Alex Shvartsman
Nagoya 2002 Team Limited Masashiro Kuroda
Katsuhiro Mori
Masahiko Morita
Sapporo 2002 Block Constructed Shinichi Kumagai
Utsunomiya 2002 Limited Rei Hashimoto
Hiroshima 2003 Extended Motokiyo Azuma
Kyoto 2003 Limited Akira Asahara
Yokohama 2003 Block Constructed Shu Komuro
Shizuoka 2003 Limited Kazuki Kato
Okayama 2004 Extended Kazuya Shiki
Sendai 2004 Limited Ichiro Shimura
Nagoya 2004 Standard Tatsunori Kishi
Yokohama 2004 Limited Kazuki Kato
Osaka 2005 Team Limited Masashiro Kuroda
Katsuhiro Mori
Masashiko Morita
Matsuyama 2005 Limited Akira Asahara
Niigata 2005 Block Constructed Katsuhiro Mori
Kitakyushu 2005 Extended Tomohiro Kaji
Hamamatsu 2006 Team Standard Kotatsu Saito
Takahiro Katayama
Yusuke Tani
Hiroshima 2006 Limited Shuhei Nakamura
Yamagata Limited Takahiro Suzuki
Kyoto 2007 Standard Yuuya Watanabe
Kitakyushu 2007 Limited Junya Iyanaga
Shizuoka 2008 Standard Yuta Takahashi
Kobe 2008 Block Constructed Yuta Takahashi
Okayama 2008 Limited Makihito Mihara
Kobe 2009 Extended Tomoharu Saito
Niigata 2009 Limited Tsuyoshi Ikeda
Kitakyushu 2009 Limited Taisuke Ishii
Yokohama 2010 Extended Katsuhiro Mori
Sendai 2010 Standard Brian Kibler
Kobe 2011 Extended Shota Yasooka
Hiroshima 2011 Standard Martin Jůza
Kobe 2012 Limited Masahiro Hiraga
Yokohama 2012 Modern Jyun'ichi Miyajima
Nagoya 2012 Standard Yuuji Okita
Yokohama 2013 Limited Masaya Kitayama
Kitakyushu 2013 Standard Raymond Tan
Kyoto 2013 Team Limited Mike Hron
Alexander Hayne
Rich Hoaen
Shizuoka 2014 Standard Ryo Nakada
Nagoya 2014 Limited Ryousuke Kasuga
Kobe 2014 Modern Teruya Kakumae
Shizuoka 2015 Limited Akito Shinoda
Kyoto 2015 Legacy Yuta Takahashi
Chiba 2015 Limited Yuki Matsumoto
Kobe 2015 Standard Takuma Morofuji
Nagoya 2016 Limited Tomonori Hirami
Tokyo 2016 Standard Riku Kumagai
Kyoto 2016 Team Limited Yuki Matsumoto
Yuuki Ichikawa
Kazuyuki Takimura
Chiba 2016 Legacy Kentaro Yamamoto
Shizuoka 2017 (Spring) Standard Ryohei Kirino
Kobe 2017 Modern Joe Soh
Kyoto 2017 Limited William Jensen
Shizuoka 2017 (Fall) Team Limited Michio Abe
Syo Hayakawa
Kentarou Tachibana
Kyoto 2018 Team Constructed Ryouichi Yamamoto
Yuusuke Matsubara
Kazuki Takamura
Chiba 2018 Limited Guillem Salvador Arnal

Additionally, together with the dauntless efforts of Japanese coverage team, we sought out and spoke to 32 Grand Prix Champions who won their Grand Prix titles in Japan. To be more specific, these names are arranged chronologically, based on the date where they achieved victory in Japan – some of these esteemed individuals might have won a Grand Prix outside of Japan before they won a Grand Prix within Japan.

We have them share their thoughts about winning their first Grand Prix, and also what they feel about about future of Magic. We hope that this gives you a walk through time and space so you can further appreciate the rich history of our wonderful game and community.

Special thanks to Masashi Koyama, Genki Moriyasu, and Seo Asako for their collective efforts in making this tribute possible.

Satoshi Nakamura

  • 7 Grand Prix Top 8s with 1 win
  • Grand Prix Sapporo 2000 Champion

"The finals match at Grand Prix Sapporo was a 'wonderful picture' and those memories follow me until today. I have a family now so I have less time for Magic, but I am still happy to play once in a while, just like this weekend in Chiba. Jon Finkel is still my inspiration and little by little I hope to get closer to his level someday."

Tsuyoshi Fujita

  • Pro Tour Hall of Fame
  • 4 Pro Tour Top 8s
  • 12 Grand Prix Top 8s with 2 wins
  • Grand Prix Kyoto 2000 Champion
  • Grand Prix Bangkok 2003 Champion

"I was extremely pleased when I won Kyoto because I have never won a big competition before. I was told by my friends that I was going to win someday, and I finally did."

Kazuaki Arahori

  • Grand Prix Sendai 2001 Champion

"It has been 17 years since I won Grand Prix Sendai. At that time, I am just happy to play Magic with my friends. Today, I'm glad to be able to still meet the Magic community. The game has flourished so much over these years and the game is still good because it suits everyone. Regardless of your physical ability or your age, you can still win at Magic."

Akira Asahara

  • 2 Pro Tour Top 8s
  • 10 Grand Prix Top 8s with 2 wins
  • Grand Prix Kyoto 2003 Champion
  • Grand Prix Niigata 2005 Champion

"Winning my first Grand Prix in my first Top 8, I was able to achieve my dream on the Pro Tour. Now, I'm glad to be providing Japanese video coverage for the community. Magic is my hobby for life, no matter where I go in life. Because it's such an interesting game, I intend to be involved in Magic for as long as I can."

Shu Komuro

  • 1 Pro Tour Top 8 with a win
  • 6 Grand Prix Top 8s with 2 wins
  • Grand Prix Yokohama 2003 Champion
  • Pro Tour Nagoya 2005 Champion
  • Grand Prix Taipei 2008 Champion

"When I won my first Grand Prix, my world changed. At that time, I wanted to win more than ever before. However, I later realized that I preferred to grow the game and to provide a service to the community and I currently work for Hareruya. Today's our 25th Anniversary, and I hope that we can bring the game to its 50th birthday."

Tomohiro Kaji

  • 3 Pro Tour Top 8s with 1 win
  • 3 Grand Prix Top 8s with 1 win
  • Grand Prix Kitakyushu 2005 Champion

"When I won Kitakyushu, my first thought was 'I did it!'. The Top 8 games were all clearly remembered in my mind. As time went by, I joined the Coverage Team and I still find high-level Magic to be very interesting. I hope everyone in Japan rises up to the challenge and one day travel to other countries to compete too!"

Shuhei Nakamura

  • Pro Tour Hall of Fame
  • 6 Pro Tour Top 8s
  • 29 Grand Prix Top 8s with 7 wins
  • Grand Prix St. Louis 2006 Champion
  • Grand Prix Hiroshima 2006 Champion
  • Grand Prix Stuttgart 2008 Champion
  • Grand Prix San Jose 2012 Champion
  • Grand Prix Philadelphia 2012 Champion
  • Grand Prix Hong Kong 2014 Champion
  • Grand Prix Dallas / Fort Worth 2015 Champion
  • 2008 Player of the Year

"I won Grand Prix Hiroshima one month after I won St. Louis, both in Coldsnap Limited. Masashi Oiso was surprised that I won Hiroshima, because I barely made the Day 2 cut at exactly 64th place. Magic has evolved over time, but little by little. This is why the game is so long-lasting and this is why the game is so strong. "

Yuuya Watanabe

  • Pro Tour Hall of Fame
  • 4 Pro Tour Top 8s
  • 28 Grand Prix Top 8s with 7 wins
  • Grand Prix Kyoto 2007 Champion
  • Grand Prix Melbourne 2009 Champion
  • Grand Prix Shanghai 2011 Champion
  • Grand Prix Pittsburgh 2011 Champion
  • Grand Prix Kuala Lumpur 2012 Champion
  • Grand Prix Manila 2012 Champion
  • Grand Prix Beijing 2014 Champion
  • Rookie of the Year 2007
  • Player of the Year 2009
  • Player of the Year 2012
  • 2017 World Magic Cup Champion

"I've always loved Magic and I was happy to be able to win a Grand Prix for the first time, In Kyoto. When I won my first Grand Prix, I was an amateur, which meant that I also won a lot of amateur prize money. As a student, it was a lot of money and that was how I ended up playing Magic professionally. That Demonfire changed my life."

Junya Iyanaga

  • 5 Grand Prix Top 8s with 1 win
  • Grand Prix Kitakyushu 2007 Champion
  • 2011 World Champion

"During the time when I was active, I put a lot more importance on Magic than today. I also remembered winning Kitakyushu after a triple mulligan. In current times, I play very little so I'm not really sure how complicated or how easy it is to win again but I'm glad I had the experience in the past."

Yuta Takahashi

  • 2 Pro Tour Top 8s
  • 12 Grand Prix Top 8s with 3 wins
  • Grand Prix Shizuoka 2008 Champion
  • Grand Prix Kobe 2008 Champion
  • Grand Prix Kyoto 2015 Champion

"The first time I won in Shizuoka, I had to play Oliver Ruel in the finals. That was a very tough match. When I won, I felt such a big sense of accomplishment. My life changed from that point and I would not be the Magic player I am today. I want to play Magic for the rest of my life, or for as long as I can."

Makihito Mihara

  • Pro Tour Hall of Fame
  • 5 Pro Tour Top 8s with 1 win
  • 10 Grand Prix Top 8s with 2 wins
  • 2006 World Champion
  • 2011 World Team Champion
  • Grand Prix Okayama 2008 Champion
  • Grand Prix Taipei 2012 Champion

"I made the Grand Prix Top 8 many times but I have never won. The chance came at Okayama. Kazuya Mitamura and I were from the came community and playgroup and together we made it to the finals. We told each other, whoever wins, we will be happy for one another and that was a great match of Magic, to be able to meet my friend in the finals of a Grand Prix. Since then, he has retired from Magic but this memory and friendship will be with me forever."

Tomoharu Saito

  • 5 Pro Tour Top 8s with 1 win
  • 26 Grand Prix Top 8s with 4 wins
  • Pro Tour Charleston 2006 Champion
  • Grand Prix Strasbourg 2007 Champion
  • Grand Prix Singapore 2009 Champion
  • Grand Prix Kobe 2009 Champion
  • Grand Prix Columbus 2010 Champion
  • 2007 Player of the Year

"After winning Grand Prix Singapore, I continued practicing hard and then I won Kobe a few weeks later. Even though Kobe was not my first win, I was very happy to win in my home country. Now, there are more and more people playing Grand Prix year after year and we also have more events in many different formats. I'm glad to see Magic's 25th birthday and I think that it is a game which can continue living on."

Taisuke Ishii

  • 2 Grand Prix Top 8s with 1 win
  • Grand Prix Kitakyushu 2009 Champion

"I had a good feeling about winning Kitakyushu when I started off the tournament at 11-0. It was a great day. I started playing Magic in 1994 and it has been a long time. I've made so many friends through Magic and I am grateful for this whole experience."

Shota Yasooka

  • Pro Tour Hall of Fame
  • 4 Pro Tour Top 8s with 2 wins
  • 21 Grand Prix Top 8s with 1 win
  • Pro Tour Charleston 2006 Champion
  • Grand Prix Kobe 2011 Champion
  • Rookie of the Year 2007
  • Player of the Year 2009
  • Player of the Year 2012
  • 2006 Player of the Year
  • 2009 Magic Online Player of the Year

"I won my first Grand Prix only after 12 times in the Top 8. It was very difficult, and I had to beat Makihito Mihara in the finals so that was a truly memorable tournament. Nowadays, there are more than 2000 people in Japanese Grand Prix which is evidence that the standard of Japanese players is getting higher and higher. Making the Top 8 is becoming very tough nowadays!"

Jyun'ichi Miyajima

  • Grand Prix Yokohama 2012 Champion

"I'm extremely pleasure that I had the pleasure to win Yokohama. It was the first ever Modern Grand Prix to be held in Japan. To this day, I still actively participate in competition just like before. Why? Because Magic is fun!"

Masaya Kitayama

  • 3 Grand Prix Top 8s with 1 win
  • Grand Prix Yokohama 2013 Champion

"At that time, during Yokohama, I felt I was very lucky to have won. However, I knew that if I kept trying, I would win someday, because I have been putting up some reasonable results. Nowadays, when it comes to Magic events, I'm playing half of them and working on the other half, so I'm still very close to the Magic community!

Ryo Nakada

  • Grand Prix Shizuoka 2013 Champion

"I was very happy when I won Shizuoka. It had exceeded my expectations. Today, I think it is very hard to win due to the competition, but I continue to play Magic because it is too much fun."

Ryousuke Kasuga

  • Grand Prix Nagoya 2014 Champion

"The greatest satisfaction is enjoying the victory and sharing the happiness with my fellow friends. After my win at Grand Prix Nagoya, the feeling of enjoying Magic has become stronger than before."

Teruya Kakumae

  • 3 Grand Prix Top 8s with 2 wins
  • Grand Prix Kobe 2014 Champion
  • Grand Prix Auckland 2015 Champion

"When I won in Kobe, I used a rogue deck which was not a popular choice at that time. Selecting a special deck to beat the metagame is the biggest reason I won. Standard has changed since then. Nowadays, some cards are too powerful, and it becomes a contest of brute force but I am optimistic that things will improve in time to come."

Akito Shinoda

  • Grand Prix Shizuoka 2015 Champion

"It was during the Khans of Tarkir block and even though I practiced a lot, I could not win drafts often. When I won Shizuoka, I was very surprised and felt that I was very lucky. If I am able to get lucky again, I definitely do not mind winning again!"

Yuki Matsumoto

  • 4 Grand Prix Top 8s with 4 wins
  • Grand Prix Chiba 2015 Champion
  • Grand Prix Kyoto 2016 Champion

"At that time, I had won the biggest tournament in Japan and I was extremely surprised because it looked so tough. I also have great memories of winning Kyoto together with Yuuki Ichikawa and Kazuyuki Takimura. Magic is not only fun, but it also brought me all around the world and I enjoy traveling greatly."

Tomonori Hirami

  • 2 Grand Prix Top 8s with 1 win
  • Grand Prix Nagoya 2016 Champion

"I have been playing Magic for a long time and nothing much has changed ever since I won Grand Prix Nagoya because I still love Magic very much. Happy 25th Anniversary and very soon, the 30th Anniversary will be coming!"

Riku Kumagai

  • 9 Grand Prix Top 8s with 4 wins
  • Grand Prix Tokyo 2016 Champion

"I played a deck which was not very strong, but my Magic career changed after winning Tokyo. I'm continuing to learn every day, as much as I'm devoted to learning like before."

Kazuyuki Takimura

  • 2 Pro Tour Top 8s with 1 win
  • 5 Grand Prix Top 8s with 1 win
  • Grand Prix Kyoto 2016 Champion
  • Pro Tour Battle for Zendikar Champion

"Because Kyoto was a team competition, I was three times as happy when I won with Yuuki Ichikawa and Yuki Matsumoto. I remember I was so happy when they three of us hugged each other and that is one of my strongest memories. Connecting with people and building friendships while having fun! The community is what makes the game so strong."

Yuuki Ichikawa

  • 2 Pro Tour Top 8s
  • 9 Grand Prix Top 8s with 4 wins
  • Grand Prix Shanghai 2015 Champion
  • Grand Prix Kyoto 2016 Champion
  • Grand Prix Taipei 2016 Champion
  • Grand Prix Singapore 2018 Champion

"Shanghai was my first win after a few tries and I told myself that I finally achieved victory. Now that I have won a few Grand Prix, I continue to try my best and I would be happy to make Top 8 again."

Kentaro Yamamoto

  • 3 Pro Tour Top 8s
  • 9 Grand Prix Top 8s with 1 win
  • Grand Prix Chiba 2016 Champion

"I made the Top 8 eight times and I never won. When I finally did, in my ninth attempt, I felt that winning was difficult, but everything was worth it. I will try my best to win a second Grand Prix, hopefully!"

Kentarou Tachibana, Michio Abe and Syo Hayakawa

  • Grand Prix Shizuoka 2017 (Fall) Champions

"We teamed together for every event since 2013 and it was great that we earned our first Pro Points and our first Grand Prix titles together. This is a memory which will last a lifetime."

Ryouichi Yamamoto, Kazuki Takamura and Yuusuke Matsubara

  • Grand Prix Kyoto 2018 Champions

"We all have each other to thank for our victory and we were so glad that we were able to go to the Pro Tour together. Going forward, we hope that Magic will last a long time so that we can be a part of Magic forever."

Collectively, the words from these individuals meld together to represent one of the strongest voices in the world. Such spirit originates from their deep cultural roots of maintaining a peaceful unity and conformity within a social group, where members prefer the continuation of a harmonious community over their personal interests. Japan has inspired us to become strong and united as they are and to keep marching forward towards perfection.

Japan, the reigning World Magic Cup Champions!

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