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A man with a vision.

There have been many romanticized biographies publications about Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of Aikido moving to Iwama to reconnect with Nature and to find spiritual harmony with the universe, while that might be true, I was never satisfied with that version of the facts.

It was clear to me that the war was also one reason, but I could not find any published

information supporting that fact and it was not clear to me why he chose to move to Iwama in 1942 instead of his hometown Tanabe. During my research, I came across a book: "Aikido Ichiro” (one straight path of Aikido) that was written in Japanese by Kisshomaru Ueshiba, second Doshu and finally, I was able to obtain the supportive information to my hypothesis. 

In the 1920’s, he was residing in the Omoto-Kyo community of Ayabe near Kyoto. His dojo was thriving and some of his Daito-Ryu Aiki-Jujutsu students were also Omoto-Kyo members. Some of them owned lands in Iwama and they suggested to Morihei Ueshiba to purchase lands in that region. O’Sensei thought that it would be the perfect place to retire and enjoy a peaceful time in the countryside. 

When the war started, his plan changed as he realized that Tokyo was in danger. His primary goal was then to protect the future of Aikido, so he decided to move to Iwama with his wife to build a second aikido headquarters in case of an emergency and Kisshomaru needed to stay in Tokyo to protect the aikido headquarters. 

During a conversation with Kisshomaru Ueshiba, O’Sensei said: “This time, the war will be a difficult one for our country. 

If this should unfortunately happen, the fate of Aikido will also be in jeopardy. 

But even if we lose the war, the mountains and rivers of our country will remain. 

Aikido must also be handed down to future generations. 

In preparation for our country's reconstruction and revival, we should not stick to Tokyo alone but secure a base elsewhere. 

Kisshomaru, you must stay and defend the Honbu Dojo in Tokyo until the end. 

If Tokyo is burnt to the ground, I will maintain aikido in the village of Iwama. There is nothing to worry about.” 

His premonition was correct, Tokyo ended up being bombed. Buildings were destroyed, and over 100,000 civilians were killed. Luckily, the Aikido headquarters' building in Shinjuku was not damaged, but the authorities requisitioned it to be used primarily as a shelter for civilians. 

It took a few years to complete the Aiki-Shrine and the dojo due to the shortage of materials. The Aiki-Shrine was a dream come true for O’Sensei where he could finally have a sacred place to pray to all the deities of martial arts to protect the future and the lineage of Aikido. He believed that Iwama offered the perfect conditions to work the land, nourish the mind and the body, and be in harmony with Nature.  


Every year, the Aikikai foundation organizes the Aiki Shrine festival and this year it will be on April 29th,2024. I would like to encourage every Aikidoka to make the trip at least once to enjoy the conviviality of the aikido community during the event. This annual event is an aikido celebration and a prayer to all the martial deities to continue to guide and protect the legacy of O’Sensei for future generations. 

Japanese Translation:










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