On Thursday April the 4th, after 15 years in Japan, I finally made the trip out to Iwama to visit the Aiki Jinja.
The Aiki Shrine is in Ibaraki prefecture, about an hour and a half out of Tokyo. The original part honden was finished in 1943. This is the small structure housing the 42 guardian Gods of Morihei Ueshiba.
Pictured to the left is a stone carving with Abe sensei`s calligraphy.
This along with the big statue of Morihei Ueshiba and a few other monuments are all fairly new additions to the grounds.
The bigger building in front of the actual shrine was built in the early 60`s.
Across the street from the shrine is the Ibaraki branch / Iwama dojo
This is the famous dojo where Aikido`s founder taught until his death in 1969. After that, Saito Morihiro sensei continued to teach for over 30 years.
There are still a number of high ranked teachers, including the current Doshu instructing daily classes for both Japanese as well as many foreign live-in students.
Following our morning in Iwama we decided to take a nice drive along one of the biggest lakes in Japan, Kasumigaura lake. The weather was great and so was the view.
After about an hour we reached Kashima Jingu - a famous shinto shrine dedicated to the patron martial deity Takemikazuchi-no-Ōkami, (God of thunder and of the sword) The kenjutsu style Kashima shinto ryu has been around since the early 1500`s.
After Kashima we took a short drive over to Ikisu jinja, this is a small and simple shrine with no direct relevance to martial arts, but part of the West Japan 3. It is said to bring good fortune if you pay respect at all 3.
That being said, our last stop was Katori jinja, the shrine of Futsunushi-no-kami, (God of swords and lightning) A big and beautiful shrine, the head of over 400 shrines around Japan. The kenjutsu style Tenshin Shōden Katori Shintō-ryū is one of the oldest Japanese martial arts dating back to the late 1400`s.
During my uchideshi years at Yoshinkan Aikido Ryu we visited Kashima and Katori each and every year early April with Ando sensei, but this was my first time back since 2015. It felt nice to carry on the tradition with some of the Aikido Meiryukan instructors. I hope to do it again next year.