First mentioned as a prominent 4-dan player, Kurata doesn’t make an appearance until later in the story as a 6-dan. Despite being only in his early twenties, Kurata (together with Ogata 9-dan) is widely considered as one of Japan’s best professionals and has been the challenger for multiple titles (although he has not win a single one). One of Kurata’s most prominent abilities is his keen 6th sense, something he believe that above all else, will present solution to the problem. Although good-natured, Kurata is overbearingly confident and takes a liking to signing autographs, which he often adds would-have titles to his names and is fond of passing around to fans (or who he thinks his fan, like Hikaru—much to the boy’s dismay).
One of the rare successful Japanese players in international Go tournaments, Kurata is referred to as “Japan’s Ahn Tae-seon,” another similarly famous young player in Korea (later selected as team manager for Korea representatives in the Hokuto cup). Ironically, Kurata holds a rivalry with Ahn Tae-seon in person after he lost to the Korean player in the Samsung cup’s quarter final (more precisely, when Ahn Tae-seon amiably and rather bluntly asked him if he had been in a slump) and is particularly competitive when the other man is concerned.
Kurata first appeared in a Go convention after Hikaru’s celebratory 1-dan match against Touya Kouyo, in which he met Hikaru who just defeated a 5-dan player for forging Honinbo Shuusaku’s autograph on a Go board (Sai was playing, as he felt personally affronted by the fraudulent Shuusaku’s autograph) and dubbed him “Shuusaku’s calligraphy expert.” He first played Hikaru in a game of one-color Go after Sai’s match with Touya Kouyo and recognized the boy as one of his potential future contenders, just like Touya Akira.
In the Hokuto cup, Kurata became the team manager for Japan’s representatives (after learning that his opponent, Ahn Tae-seon, would be the Korea team’s manager). He refused Hikaru’s request to be 1st board (to play against Korea’s Ko Yeong-ha) twice, as he considered Hikaru’s ability below Touya Akira’s, and in an attempt to fire Hikaru up for the tournament, promised to swap the order only if Hikaru could win in the game against China’s 2nd board Wang Shi Zhen. This scheme, instead, only taxed Hikaru’s nerves and almost spelled his devastating loss, until Hikaru renewed his determination and came from behind in a string of spectacularly impressive maneuvers and lost to Wang Shi Zhen by only 1.5 moku. Despite the earlier agreement, Kurata still acknowledged Hikaru’s strength and put the utmost confident in him as he made Hikaru 1st board against Ko Yeong-ha and moved Akira down to 2nd board against Korea’s Im Il-hwan. Although the decision was initially regarded with distrust and skepticism from most fans and pros, Kurata’s wisdom was made clear when Hikaru played a game considered “worthy of 1st board position” with Ko Yeong-ha and barely lost by half a moku.