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Old 07-04-2007, 12:36 AM   #27
Peter Goldsbury
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Dojo: Hiroshima Kokusai Dojo
Location: Hiroshima, Japan
Join Date: Jul 2001
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Re: Aikidoka learning Japanese

Takao Hattori wrote: View Post
However, if you want to learn spirit of Aikido,you had better learn Japanese.
Yes, I think one needs to be very careful about this.

Here in Hiroshima we hear very much about Hiroshima no Kokoro ヒロシマの心 (with Hiroshima always in katakana), which is always translated as the "Spirit of Hiroshima".
Do you need to speak Japanese to understand the Spirit of Hiroshima? I believe that the (Japanese) politicians & bureaucrats who run the Peace Park & A-Bomb Museum would definitely think not. If you did, much of Hiroshima's mission to make the world aware of the dangers of nuclear weapons would lose its point.
I prefer to ask the annoying questions, like: does Hiroshima no Kokoro go beyond the mere words and issue in actions, especially in respect of people like the ethnic Koreans, whose kin were brought to Japan and forced to aid Japan's war effort?

The Spirit of Aikido is the accepted English translation of 合気道の心. At least, this is the English title of Kisshomaru Ueshiba's book with the same title and in another thread it was suggested that the Engish translation had Doshu's blessing.

With Hiroshima no Kokoro there is an unexpressed assumption that (1) understanding it has an ethical dimension and (2) the phrase has a cultural context that many Japanese believe to be unique. The ethical dimension was clearly demonstrated recently with the sacking of Fumio Kyuma, because of comments he made that could be taken to justify the atomic bombing. The cultural context is an assumption that the 'A-Bomb Experience' is unique, in other words, if you are not Japanese you cannot understand what it was like to be atom-bombed. (Again, the fact that there many Koreans and even US prisoners of war were in Hiroshima at 8.15 on 6 August 1945 is conveniently forgotten here.)

I think that similar assumptions exist with Aikido no Kokoro and they should be seen for what they are.

P A Goldsbury
Hiroshima, Japan
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