The Ultimate Aikido Pilgrimage-Kumano Nachi falls
The Kumano Nachi falls (Nachi no taki) are also located in Wakayama prefecture, where Tanabe city is and where O'Sensei was born.
The Nachi Falls are 133 m high, it is the tallest waterfall with a single uninterrupted drop in Japan.
This place was very special for Morihei Ueshiba and he used to go there regularly to perform misogi and pray.
Misogi is usually performed under a waterfall such as the Nachi Falls to purify mind and body. Some martial arts practitioners practices some form of misogi every morning at sunrise.
It is not associated with any religion and there are many protocols that are available to provide the same idea of purifying the mind and the body.
I believe that walking and sitting somewhere in Nature can provide the same effect.
Reaching the top, where the Kumano shrines are located provides a majestic view.
Imagine going there in the early morning and exercise for a few hours: Cardiovascular exercises, just walking to the shrine and for me, the view is food for the soul. It is magnificent.
In some of the videos of Hikitsuchi Michio Sensei, direct student of O'Sensei, on YouTube, he is practicing there with his students. Training in Nature gives us a different feeling of the practice. Sometimes, I feel it is better than practicing in the dojo.
This is the Kumano Taisha shrine:
It is a common place to visit for pilgrims. While visiting the site, I could just imagine O'Sensei praying in one of those shrines. It is quite an amazing experience. Morihei Ueshiba's religion was Shinto, one of the oldest religion in Japan. It is said that the Kumano Taisha shrine displays an harmonious relationship between Buddhist and Shinto – something that is quite unique and prominent in the Kumano region.
I felt that there was a certain fulfilment to travel to Wakayama and visit the grounds where O'Sensei used to travel during his pilgrimage. O'Sensei often mentioned that Aikido teaches us harmony with the Universe. It is important to understand that as human being we are part of the Universe and it is essential to cultivate our relationship with it. Practicing Aikido also gives us the possibility to stay healthy and it is an important point in this relationship.