This was a connection practiced not only by O'Sensei, but also many of his notable students, such as Saito Sensei and Saotome Sensei, just to name a couple. There is something fundamental and natural about working the soil.
I wonder if it's a coincidence that the dojo where I trained has a fabulous (if I say so myself) garden?
Built by senseis and students out of land reclaimed from under asphalt...here are some pics!
From the first groundbreaking...
...to our first plantings...
...to a healthy garden at the end of one growing season...
...a new growing season, more reclaimed land, a new flower border...
...and a completed stone path.
Man was that a lot of work! But ya know, that garden does a lot for people. I've seen people stop in the garden as they arrive at the dojo, and just spend a moment letting the day's stuff go. I've stopped after a frustrating class to pull a few weeds and remind myself that I can do things. We reclaimed a strip of weedy, neglected grass, we cleaned it out and nourished it with manure from members' livestock, we planted a couple flats of leftover annuals from the garden center that nobody wanted...and they turned into this
. It's enough to make you a believer.