Ibaraki, Iwama Dojo, Aiki Jinja (Shrine) & O’Sensei’s last years

In 1942, supposedly because of a divine command, he longed to return to the farmlands. He had often said that "Budo and farming are one". The war had emptied the Kobukan, and he was tired of city life. Leaving the Kobukan in the hands of his son Kisshomaru, he moved to the Ibaraki Prefecture and the village of Iwama. Here he built an outdoor dojo and the now famous Aiki Shrine.
Iwama is considered by many to be the birth place of modern-day Aikido, "the Way of Harmony." Prior to this move, his system had been called Aikijutsu, then Aiki-Budo, still primarily a martial art rather than a spiritual path. From 1942 (when the name Aikido was first formally used) to 1952, Ueshiba consolidated the techniques and perfected the religious philosophy of Aikido.

After the war, Aikido grew rapidly at the Kobukan (now called Hombu Dojo) under the direction of Kisshomaru Ueshiba. Morihei Ueshiba had become famous as "O Sensei" or "The Grand Teacher," the Master of Aikido. He had also received many decorations from the Japanese government. Right up to the end of his life, O Sensei refined and improved his "Way", never losing his dedication for hard training.

In early spring 1969, O Sensei fell ill and told his son Kisshomaru that "God is calling me...." He was returned to his home at his request to be near his dojo. On April 15th, his condition became critical. As his students made their last calls, he gave his final instructions. "Aikido is for the entired world. Train not for selfish reasons, but for all people everywhere."

Early on the morning of 26th April 1969, the 86-year-old O Sensei took his son's hand, smiled and said, "Take care of things" and died. Two months later, Hatsu, his wife of 67 years, followed him. O Sensei's ashes were buried in the family temple in Tanabe. Every year a memorial service is held on 29th April at the Aiki Shrine in Iwama.

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