AIKIKAI FOUNDATION - Newsletter Archive

    << 2012 Jan.~Feb. >>

■ Strong like a Dragon in the year of Dragon
   Shin Shun Do Gen
New Year Statement) by Aikido Doshu / Ueshiba Moriteru

A Happy New Year.
   Time flies and we have a new year. Last year we suffered from continuous natural disasters such as the earthquake, tsunami and torrential rain with strong typhoons. Therefore there is no year which I appreciate more that I was able to start a new year. I am reminded of how much happier it is to spend every day peacefully than life filled with material goods. I would like to enter this New Year with a feeling of expanding dreams.
   In spite of last year’s very difficult situation, we have managed, both in Japan and abroad, and with the Aikikai Hombu as the centre, to hold almost the same number of seminars and anniversary celebrations as in other years. I believe that these solid and enduring activities are achieved through the diffusion and promotion of the aikido founded by Morihei Ueshiba.
   What is presently called the ‘Hombu Dojo’ was built by the founder, Morihei Ueshiba in 1931, and was called ‘Ueshiba Dojo’. As Aikido developed for the following 10 years, it reached its limits as a personal dojo. Because of this, “Kobukan Foundation” was established in 1940. In 1941, WWII occurred. When Tokyo suffered a massive air raid by U.S. Forces in 1945, Doshu Kisshomaru protected the dojo at all cost with the neighborhoods’ help. The neighborhood was a sea of fire in this air raid. If it had burned down at this time, there could not have been any revival of aikido in the postwar period, or that revival might have been severely delayed. It might not have spread through 95 nations throughout the world in these 65 years since the war. Because of the extraordinary efforts of seniors senpai, Aikido continues to expand in a great circle. I would like to hold the postponed events, ‘The 80th anniversary of the aikido Hombu Dojo’ and ‘the 70th anniversary of Aikikai Foundation’ in September, and understand the history of aikido correctly and transmit it to posterity with greater clarity. In addition, every 4 years the IAF congress will be held in the Yoyogi Olympic Center. It is hard to estimate how many aikido practitioners will participate because of the nuclear plant issue. I hope we can unify our hearts and make it fruitful.  
   Last year in November, their Royal Majesties the King and Queen of Bhutan visited Japan.  I think that there are not few Japanese who were moved with his dignity, a warm eye and a benevolent, pro-Japanese speech. I was impressed with You displayed the true qualities of Japan and her people. What would have shattered other nations and caused anarchy, chaos and lament – was met by the Japanese people with quiet dignity, confidence, discipline and strength of heart, even under the worst of circumstances. In our present world, this combination of excellence – with strong roots of culture, tradition and values – is almost impossible to find. [. . . ] These values and qualities were not born yesterday – but were born from centuries of history.”He wished friendship between Bhutan and Japan in his 13 minutes speech. I was touched by his sympathy, as though Japan was his country, and felt the friendship in King Jigme Khesar of Bhutan’s speech.   Japan was beaten by natural disasters and the nuclear plant issue. But we are able to realize that our beautiful and precious soul exists. The King told us that the soul is born from our history in the number of centuries. We should learn our ancestors’ spirits and re-realize our positive points.  I was taught through his speech that those engaged in aikido move forward and unify with the Wago soul. In their own language and shown on their flag, ‘Bhutan’ means ‘the country of the thunder dragon’. This year is the year of dragon. Let us go forward strongly with the warm support of the country of a dragon for one year, this year. 

■ Hatsu-Keiko(First Lesson of 2012)    06/Jan 06:30〜07:30 
  Every year, Hatsu-Keiko (first lesson of the year) held on 6th January at 06:30a.m. Almost all Hombu dojo's shihans & instructors attend the class and practice with ordinary practitioners together. It is very hard to take proper UKEMI since the dojo is so crowded but it is a great opportunity to practice with Hombu dojo's shihans or instructors for one whole hour under Doshu's instruction before dawn.
 Hombu Dojo Kagami Biraki  08/Jan 14:00~ceremony, 15:00~social-gathering (fee:500yen)
Preparation for Kagami Biraki Ceremony by Hombu Shihans, Instructors and Volunteers

wash rice

make a fire

steam glutinous rice

pound mochi

pound mochi by doshu

pound mochi

kneading mochi

make oshiruko

oshiruko making & attnedees' long line

attendees' long line

registration (\500)

put shoes in a plastic bag

kagamibiraki ceremony (3F)

get-together (4F)

- Impression of Hombu Dojo Kagami Biraki by Sebastian BARUDI (Hombu Dojo) -

Everything starts early in the morning at 6:30, with the rice cake making (MOCHITSUKI). This is a traditional custom very common to see in the countryside of Japan, however in Tokyo is a part culture that it is almost disappear. It is a very unique experience to see all Hombu Instructors making rice cake, giving an unusual environment of energy, coordination and concentration. At the same time you can see Doshu walking around, checking that everything is in the right place, just like on the TATAMI.

After the rice cake is finished, many Hombu Dojo members help to make small rice cakes (O-MOCHI) to eat afterwards at the Kagami Biraki Ceremony.

In the afternoon hundreds of people start to line up waiting to get a spot to watch the ceremony. The opening of the ceremony is carry out by Doshu’s speech, wearing a traditional Japanese outfit. Following by the greetings and thoughts of the past year, held it by high rank Aikido practitioners. Later on, a demonstration is conducted by Doshu, and after this is the handing over from 8th Dan to 5th Dan diplomas. The ceremony finishes with a toast and eating the OSHIRUKO. The entire ceremony is a combination of etiquette, gratitude and I believe the only opportunity to witness such an amount of 5th to 8th Dan Aikido practitioners or Sensei’s on the mat at the same time.

In 18 years of practice, is the first time that I attend to Kagami Biraki Ceremony, and I understood that Aikido it is not just an interesting Martial Art, but is also a part of Japanese culture.

 KAN-KEIKO in 2012 (Mid Winter Training)  23/Jan ~ 01/Feb
- Every year, Hombu dojo holds a mid-winter training during the most coldest season in Japan for 10 days, from last the Monday of January to the first Wednesday of February.
Practitioners need to take at least one class everyday during Kan-Keiko period. When they are able to practice for 10 whole days, they are given a diploma and a TENUGUI (a special traditional Japanese towel) autographed by Doshu as a prize for perfect attendance. This year, over 110 practitioners accomplished it and were informed on the second floor bulletin board in Hombu Dojo.

Mid-summer training will be held from the last Monday of July to the first Wednesday of August. 

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