View Full Version : Aikido Tour of Japan ideas please

Please visit our sponsor:

01-24-2008, 05:04 PM
I am a travel Agent in the UK, I work for an independent company and have recently Certified as a Japan Specialist.
I am working with the Japanese national tourist organisation, and a few specialist tour companies to put some special interest tours together.
Currently there are no specific tours catering to Aikido (Again based on the British Market), I am hoping to correct this, As I am new to Aikido I am hoping for your suggestions on places to visit relevant to the history and culture of Aikido.
I would also appreciate your opinions and possible suggestions on the possibility of incorporating breaks in the tour itinery to train at local dojo's.

Once I have a finalised itinery I will post it on here as it would be posible to do the same or very similar tour from any Country as long as the international gateways remained the same.


Joseph Madden
01-24-2008, 08:58 PM
Just outside Nara Prefecture is Yagyu. There you may visit Tengu Rock, a legendary place where a famous swordsman cut a huge rock in two after meeting one of the legendary mountain spirits. Yagyu is also where both Tokugawas where trained in the art of swordsmanship.
In Tokyo, you may train at the Yoshinkan dojo for a nominal fee. There is also Kyoto which has many famous dojos and the Kyoto Budokan which is quite beautiful.

Charles Hill
01-25-2008, 05:28 AM
Hi Michelle,

Congratulations on your certification. The Kii pennisula were Morihei Ueshiba was born and raised and considered his spiritual home has been designated a World Heritage Spot and there should be lots of stuff available in English. I recommend John Stevens' biography of Ueshiba for info on the area and its connection to him, (as well as lots of nice photos of the area by me!)

Good luck!

01-25-2008, 10:14 PM
the Yoshinkan Honbu, located in western Tokyo, might be open to a visit. There are more than a few English speakers in the dojo - foreign and Japanese teachers. You could ask them about watching and participating.


01-26-2008, 12:25 PM
...As I am new to Aikido I am hoping for your suggestions on places to visit relevant to the history and culture of Aikido.
I would also appreciate your opinions and possible suggestions on the possibility of incorporating breaks in the tour itinery to train at local dojo's.

One lesser known associative location is Tsubaki Okami Yashiro in Mie ken. Osensei learned misogi from Yamamoto Yukitaka who was then the Guji of the shrine. The shrine is over 2000 years old so it has some historic importance in and of itself too. Also, they performed the ceremony to enshrine Osensei's mitama there, if I understand correctly.

01-26-2008, 04:40 PM
Thanks for the replys

I really have my work cut out with this project,
Thank you for the suggestions, off to find more reading material and a better map!
The way i am going the tour is going to take a month.

Walter Martindale
01-27-2008, 07:06 PM
In '03 about 15 of us (from Canadian Aikikai) did a tour of Japan which started in Osaka. We attended and took part in a demo at a pretty big gathering of dojo in the region and then were guests at a post-demo dinner with some fairly high-ups in the Osaka area Aikikai. (the main reason for the tour was for our shihan to show us a lot of famous places in Japan, with a little Aikido on the side). We then did some touring around including Tanabe with the memorial to Ueshibo O Sensei, the Hiroshima memorial and some training with the Hiroshima police dojo. We visited Himeji castle, Beppu "hells", and a little village whose name has escaped my memory where some famous samurai lived (and were murdered).
We visited Kyoto's Kinkakuji, a kimono "factory", and Nara's indoor Bhudda. Towards the end of the tour we visited Kanazawa (just before some earthquakes visited), stayed at a spa and watched a sumo tournament. After that we ended the tour in Tokyo with a couple of morning sessions at Akikiai Hombu led by Doshu, and a dinner at a chinese restaurant with Moriteru Ueshiba Doshu.
From there, we dispersed by our separate routes back to Canada.
The tour was pretty good, but it was hampered by the fact that most of us have minimal Japanese, and our tour guide had possibly taken English in high school but that was a long time ago.

Here, I'll admit a shortcoming on my part - about 1995 our shihan told me I should study Japanese, and (my bad) I said "muzukashii". If only I'd studied...

The trip around Beppu was cool but we had a different tour guide who, to make sure we got it, turned the PA on the bus up to full blast and spoke quite loudly, in Japanese. Towards the end of the tour I was able to discern that they were going to continue with the tour for the rest of the Japanese passengers after they dropped the foreigners at the train station, but really it was a bit of a waste. (we did see a lot of cool things, and when we visited the Hiroshima police dojo, the practice was led by one of our shihan's former students from before his Canada days - beer and sushi afterwards was heaps of fun because we got to try our minimal Japanese and they got to try their only slightly better English. The experience of a Kanazawa spa is one to remember, as well - Imagine a bunch of big hairy gai-jin wandering around in pink and blue striped spa wear and ... well, it's a long story.)
I guess the point here is that if you're going to arrange Aikido tours, you'll do well to consider the various "divisions" - some who have posted here are "Yoshinkan", others may be Aikikai, and so on - I think you'll need to be sensitive to these divisions and possibly arrange tours of Yoshinkan - based dojos for that group of participants, and Aikikai-based dojos for that side of the world. I know I'm leaving out other groups, but you could do some pretty good tailoring of your tours, and PLEASE for the sake of the people who are paying heaps of bucks for the tour, ensure that the people attending the tour will have someone who has the ability to lead the tours in, and understand questions in the language of the people attending the tour (most likely Eigo) - even if you have to charge a little more for it.

01-28-2008, 10:17 AM
Hi Michelle,
Check your privae messages....


Ethan Weisgard
01-28-2008, 02:20 PM
Hello Michelle,

It sounds like a great idea, but there are certain things that would be good to be aware of when putting these tours together.

The point that was made about different "styles" is important. Even within one style or the other, there can be preferences regarding which places / Sensei people wish to train under.

Japanese language skills are important, as another person mentioned. You will need a tour leader who can speak Japanese, and I highly recommend someone who does Aikido. The etiquette that is needed when dealing with representatives of dojo you are visiting is best understood by someone in the world of Aikido who speaks Japanese (and English!).

You will need recommendations to visit most places - these must be made properly beforehand, and introductions by someone who is well known by the representatives of the places you will be visiting is best. If this is not possible, then you will need someone to make the connection and explain your wish to visit and/or train with the group you have put together.

Good luck!

In Aiki,

Ethan Weisgard

oisin bourke
02-01-2008, 09:17 AM
Another option is the Shiritaki Dojo in Hokkaido. This is where Ueshiba Sensei first learned Daito Ryu from Takeda Sokaku. There is still an Aikikai dojo there and is regularly used by both Aikido and Daito Ryu groups of all persuasions in Japan.

The village has barely changed since the Ueshiba/Takeda days and there is a pretty phenomenal feeling that one can tap into if they train there for a few days. There is also a small museum with some of Ueshiba's memorabilia plus the sites of the Ueshiba and Takeda houses are still marked, but the atmosphere of the place is what really makes it special (at least it was for me.)

It's not an easy place to get to (though there's a new highway linking the village to Asahikawa city: a two hour drive) but that's part of understanding Ueshiba Sensei's journey, no?

02-02-2008, 01:22 PM
An "Aikido Tour" could include O'Sensei's birthplace, grave, Hombu Dojo in Tokyo, the Iwama Dojo and Peace Shrine.