In the weekend following the 26th, in commemoration of his passing, the annual Aiki Jinja festival is held in Iwama, a small rural town north of Tokyo where he lived during World War II. It was here where aikido as it's practiced today came into being. While residing in Iwama, Ueshiba began constructing a shrine dedicated to the principles of aikido, the so-called Aiki Jinja. Every year since his passing the Ueshiba family gathers here and gives an aikido demonstration in honor of his life and accomplishments.
|At the bronze statue of Morihei Ueshiba, O'sensei (great teacher)|
This year we were able to attend the Aiki Jinja Festival and it was a very impressive event. Our day started at Ueno Station in Tokyo where we met with our aikido friends to get on the train towards Iwama. Slowly the urban environment of Tokyo was replaced by more spacious areas until our train was crossing the beautiful wide open countryside of Japan. After two hours we arrived at Iwama station, and followed the many, many aikido-practitioners visiting the festival.
The festival starts with a shinto-ceremony, followed by an aikido demonstration of Doshu and his son. Everyone then gathers together on the picnic field to enjoy a nice Japanese lunch and have some drinks. In the afternoon there is lots of time to look around, visit the Iwama dojo and take pictures of the shrine. It was our first time coming here, and it was a impressive experience seeing the Aiki Shrine and the Iwama dojo located between beautiful trees and greenery. The Iwama dojo is a big contrast to hombu dojo in Tokyo. It's crafted from wood and has many traditional elements. It breathes the authentic Japanese martial atmosphere, so to say. When we have the opportunity we definitely want to experience training there.
|Gathering at the shrine|
|After the ceremony the shrine was closed again|