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Old 04-06-2009, 08:30 AM   #27
Peter Goldsbury
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Dojo: Hiroshima Kokusai Dojo
Location: Hiroshima, Japan
Join Date: Jul 2001
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Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 12

Hello Steve,

Many thanks for your response. From what you state, it would seem that Ueshiba Sensei was well in the avatar mode at this point and was seeking at least a glimmer of understanding / confirmation from his audience. His explanation was clearly about kotodama, as he conceived this. I would love to have been a fly on the wall at the meeting you describe--and also wonder why Odano Sensei's answer would have caused such a rapid departure from his presence.

I ask because I had a two-hour meeting with the present Doshu last Saturday. Admittedly, the circumstances were different. It was not my first meeting with Doshu and when we meet, Doshu rarely discusses anything but the points of the meeting. So, if I had been Odano Sensei, I would have stayed and argued, as I do with the present Doshu.

However, though from your posts it is clear that Odano Sensei never studied kotodama, her studies in Japanese kanji seem to have provided at least one of her students with the means to include kotodama in his vision of aikido.This person is William Gleason. So please be aware that I will discuss your book in my next column (which will appear in May, if I can get everything together) solely in connection with Mr Gleason's view of the role of kotodama in aikido.

Best wishes,


Steve Earle wrote: View Post

Continental origins? Maybe. There are also all of the lost tribe theories that would relate kotodama to Judaism and the Kabbalah. I am not a student of kotodama and can't really offer an opinion. (Odano-sensei also never studied kotodama.) What I would say is that the table of fifty sounds is unprecedented elsewhere. Phonetically, Japanese is closer to the Polynesian languages than any other group; but none of those languages has anything like the table of fifty sounds associated with them. The sanskrit alphabet that Fred has introduced above, while obviously phonetically arranged, from what I can tell shows very little resemblance to the fifty sounds of Japanese; first of all, it appears to be made up of vowels and consonants as opposed to whole syllables. Also the progression of these sounds does not seem to resemble the progression in the Japanese table.

Odano vs. Ueshiba: OK, twist my arm. This forum is obviously not a venue that allows passing comments to pass! Not sure that it will shed the light you are hoping for, but here goes. Also, I will need to be vague on details as my notes are buried in a pile while we have work done to our house, but this is what I remember.

Preface by saying that Odano encountered a number of the prominent "spiritual" figures of her age through no desire of her own; the meetings were almost always arranged by her friends and usually ended in the bizarre. After returning home from a meeting with Goi Masaharu, founder of the Byakko Shinkokai, in which the two spent most of their time glaring at each other, she developed a high fever and was bedridden for 24 hrs--only to discover that Goi had been bedridden with the same fever during exactly the same period of time. Several hours after meeting with Sakurazawa Nyoichi (George Ohsawa), founder of macrobiotics, in which he praised her for her work and then proceeded to demonstrate that he had misunderstood it entirely, he dropped dead--giving Odano-sensei a reputation in some macrobiotic circles as the lady that killed George Ohsawa! Compared with these meetings, the encounter with Ueshiba was tame. One of her friends was evidently practicing aikido and wanted to introduce Ueshiba-sensei to her friends, so a group of four or five of them called upon him one afternoon. This was in the early sixties; Odano sensei would have been in her early fifties and Ueshiba early eighties. They were seated around a square table, and because Odano was the youngest in the group she ended at the "foot" of the group which in fact but her all the way around the table next to Ueshiba. As she told it, Ueshiba began telling them how one kamisama rose up to heaven at the sound of suuu and another came down to the sound of suuu . . . something to this effect. Looking around the table he encountered glazed eyes until he reached Odano--at which point his face lit up. You understand! he said. He reached over and grabbed her arm.

This was before Odano had begun sharing much of her work; she was an unknown entity to Ueshiba and would not have received any special introduction; she introduced herself to Ueshiba by name. Ueshiba was obviously very pleased. You will have to come study with me, he said. I will give you private lessons in the art of self defence (goshinjyutsu). Odano, who was never very good at telling white lies, thanked him for his kind offer and replied with a statement to the effect that she had lived without goshinjyutsu up until now and saw need for it.

The effect was apparently like throwing water on a fire; Ueshiba's mood soured immediately and Odano's friends begged a hasty retreat with Odano in tow. Outside on the street they began pummeling her with their handbags--you can't talk to Ueshiba-sensei like that, they said!

End of story. Except that several years later Odano received a postcard from the Ueshiba family inviting her to some event and demonstration, which she passed along to a young guy who was visiting her at the time and who said he wanted to go. Don't remeber who it was; sorry--it's in my notes. But he ended up becomming one of the uchideshi at Hombu.


P A Goldsbury
Hiroshima, Japan
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