Re: Training at Aikikai Hombu Dojo - Experiences
It's good to remember as well that Hombu Dojo gets a large amount of visitors all throughout the year from various dojos throughout Japan and throughout the world. Some visitors stay for a class or two, some may stay longer, but the core students must find this a bit tedious and wearisome. Certainly, I've been to other dojos in the US where the core members have not welcomed me with open arms. And not speaking the language confidently, I think, makes that situation even more difficult because they (the core students) don't know if you can speak the language.
My experience training at Hombu was fine. I enjoyed chatting with some of the guys in the locker room and hearing stories from one elderly gentleman from the days when he trained under O-Sensei. Of course, this was all done in Japanese.
Yes, it is a formal place. Yes, perhaps a little more pretentious than other dojos. But I think that's what we would/should expect from the Hombu Dojo.
just my thoughts