View Full Version : Aikikai Hombu Dojo Still Open? (Covid-19)

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04-02-2020, 09:42 PM
Hi folks,

So, from what I understand, Aikikai Hombu Dojo is basically still open and holding regular practices outside of closing for a couple of weekends (April 4, 5, 11, 12).

Can anyone in Tokyo (or elsewhere) confirm or deny that this is the case?


-- Jun

04-04-2020, 11:07 AM
I just heard from a trustworthy source that Aikikai Hombu Dojo is, indeed, still open outside of the above weekend closures.

To me, this feels unwise and seems to go counter to many global initiatives and medical/scientific advice. Tokyo alone just reported 118 new cases on the day of 4/4 with the number of new cases growing daily (https://stopcovid19.metro.tokyo.lg.jp/en/).

Moriteru Ueshiba, the current Doshu, recently wrote (http://www.aikikai.or.jp/eng/index.html), "Regarding Aikido, events are being cancelled in all the regions, and most people cannot even keep practicing because of the closing of their training places. Although unavoidable, it is incredibly unfortunate." The choice to keep Aikikai Hombu Dojo open, seems to me, to be just that--a choice. And, I sincerely hope that this choice does not cause any dire consequences that could/should have been avoided.

Does anyone else have any thoughts on this?

-- Jun

Carl Thompson
04-05-2020, 02:00 AM
Hi Jun,

As someone who trains with people from Hombu in the Iwama dojo, I can see how it looks to the rest of the world. I think it also reflects how the government are treating this crisis.

I gather that you are Japanese yourself, so you probably understand the cultural nuances at play better than I do. It's a hierarchical country, but it also places great importance on getting group-consent.

When Prime Minister Abe initially closed the schools nationwide, with only one day's notice, lots of people were angry at his 'marunage', just making a decision without consultation, and leaving everyone else to figure out how to do it. It was still only a recommendation, but I think 'emergency culture' kicked in and many schools did have their closing ceremonies the next day. The one I work at stayed open just a few more days to sort out the chaos. Once we got into the holidays and saw how the rest of the world was burning, I think people appreciated the decision. It seems that slamming the brakes on corona early like that was a good move.

Now, schools are due to reopen tomorrow (including mine), but in other areas, especially where there are coronavirus cases, local authorities have told them to stay closed until Golden Week (at the start of May). Lots of shops, restaurants and other places are closing down of their own volition, and people are choosing not to travel, or gather in groups. I know some dojo-mates who have been told by their wives that they will be quarantined in their own homes if they go to the dojo.

I agree that it is risky, but having taken some measure of control earlier on, this time I think Japan is riding the corona-curve while letting people make their own decisions. It seems Hombu is doing the same thing, but as long as that curve keeps going up, it won't surprise me if classes are completely cancelled soon. And for that matter, unless the curve starts going down, I can't see the schools reopening for long, and the government knows this.

Just my thoughts for now anyway.


04-05-2020, 09:53 AM
Hi Carl,

Thanks for your thoughts! I've been hoping to get a reasoned response from someone who is there in Japan.

Yeah, I've been thinking of the collectivist nature of the Japanese culture combined with its hierarchical layers would lend itself to a different overall societal and governmental behavior than, say, that of the United States of America. It sounds like some folks, and I would imagine many organizations such as Aikikai Hombu Dojo, would defer to the government regarding institutional behaviors.

I still do have personal concerns, especially with the number of confirmed cases still growing in Tokyo (144 (https://stopcovid19.metro.tokyo.lg.jp/en/) as of 4/5). Frankly, though, I'm surprised the numbers have stayed low over there, especially considering the population density. At the same time, I suspect that many cultural norms such as wearing masks and overall sanitation may serve as buffers to the spread of the virus.

Most dojo in the United States seem to have closed at this point. It sounds like the Ibaraki/Iwama dojo is still open? Are dojo folks in Japan expressing any concern over physical contact?

-- Jun

Carl Thompson
04-06-2020, 04:53 AM
Hi Jun,

The Iwama dojo is still open, but few people are training. For various reasons, I am electing to stop for a while myself. I agree with your opinion on institutions deferring to governmental guidelines.

As you said, Japan has plenty of customs that protect it, such as wearing masks and bowing rather than shaking hands. There has always been hand sanitizer at the entrance to supermarkets and most buildings. Social distancing was already here, and most of the Achilles heel situations, like festivals etc have been cancelled. Most people are tightening that cleanliness up even more and you see things like supermarket workers disinfecting the handles of shopping baskets as they stack them and so on. That being said, I met one of the officials in charge in the area where I work today and he shook everyone's hands. (NB: We were all foreign teachers, some recently arrived and I wondered if it was a purposeful, well-intentioned gesture. I was still kind of glad that I was at the start of the line, and that the hand sanitizer was close.)

Prime Minister Abe is due to make an announcement tomorrow, declaring a ‘State of Emergency' covering Tokyo, Osaka and other affected areas. It will be largely voluntary to follow the measures, but I think most people will comply.

Apropos of what I said about Japan preferring to get things done with group consent, I think it is also against the Japanese constitution to enforce lockdown measures, as seen in the UK and US. Most people I talk to find that idea abhorrent with one acquaintance even saying it was ‘Fascism.' Even shutting the schools down (which was also voluntary) has left some people deeply angry, particularly those in unaffected areas who didn't get to have proper graduations and so on.

I guess we will see how it plays out.


Carl Thompson
04-07-2020, 03:51 AM
In accordance with the emergency declaration and in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, all practices at the Aikido Hombu Dojo will be cancelled from April 8 (Wed) to May 6 (Wed). In addition, from April 11 (Sat) the office will be closed.

Regarding the cancellation of Aikido Academy and make-up days, we are still deciding on our course of action. As the situation changes daily, it may take some time to determine the restart date.

However, using the guidance from the government, we plan to place the safety of our members and staff in the highest priority.

For those who paid the April fees through automatic bank withdrawals, we are still deciding on our action. We will contact you again once there is a decision.

We apologize for any inconvenience our sudden decision may cause you, but we trust you will understand.

If there is a change about the length of time Hombu Dojo will be closed, we will notify you on our homepage.

Practice Cancellation Period: April 8 (Wed) 2020 ~ May 6 (Wed) 2020
Office Closure Period: April 11(Sat) 2020 ~ May 6 (Wed) 2020

04-07-2020, 02:52 PM
Aikido Yoshinkai HQ also announced closure for that same time period.

04-09-2020, 09:00 PM
Hi folks,

I'm happy to hear both Aikikai Hombu Dojo and Aikido Yoshinkan HQ have decided to close their dojo for the time being--I think it's a wise choice.

Carl, thanks for your perspectives from there in Japan. Since I haven't lived there in so long (despite occasional visits, like over this past New Years), I do feel a bit distanced from things there, so I appreciate your thoughts. It feels strange these days (years) that my perspective seems weird when I view them through the lens of the USA where I live, and also weird when I view them through the perspective of Japan as well...

-- Jun