Corallini travelled to Iwama in 1984 and invited Saito sensei to Italy in 1985. Daniel Toutain began training with Saito sensei in 1993. Neither is terribly early. They both must have gotten their inspiration, their idea to search Saito sensei out, from somebody else's aikido. With Toutain we can suspect Corallini, perhaps, but with Corallini? Evenås? Tomita sensei, who after all lives in a corner of Europe since 1969? Some US practitioner? Books only? The last version I highly doubt.
Chiba Sensei invited Saito Sensei to the U.K. in the early 70s. The object of this was to further expose weapons work to the U.K. At that time Saito Sensei had written the introductory Vol1/2/3 of his excellent books which contained weapon training.
Both Tomita Sensei and Bruce Klickstein Sensei also travelled with Saito Sensei in the U.K.
My own original teacher, Mr Coyle, in the 70s was also instrumental in introducing Saito Sensei type weaponry in Scotland.
At present I believe there is an Iwama style dojo in Edinburgh.
This is interesting. You are saying that early on, Saito sensei's teachings were spread as a weapons auxilliry to other teacher's aikido. That sounds as a reasonable start... yes. At the time, the borders between different "styles" within the Aikikai were not really borders the way they sometimes are today. I wonder if Saito sensei visited other European countries in similar fashion, invited by people with no or little prior experience of his aikido but who had read his books on weapons work. This must have created plenty of opportunities for aikido practitioners to become interested in Saito sensei's aikido.
I also wonder to what extent, if any, Tomita sensei travelled and taught outside of Scandinavia in like the 70s, besides this travelling with Saito sensei in the UK. If
Tomita sensei actually did play an important part in spreading this type of aikido in parts of Europe, we can expect this to be excluded from the official history of Iwama aikido as written by today's Iwama aikido people (since Tomita sensei never was a part of this movement). Theoretically, there could have been half a dozen people like him throughout Europe who got removed from the official history books of Iwama aikido. So I really don't think my question will be best answered by the senior Iwamaists. They will probably give me the very official version only.
Tomita sensei's organisation "Tomita Academy" has dojos in Sweden, England, France, Portugal, Italy, and Russia, according to his website. These are probably not very many dojos - they are not extremely many in Sweden either. Is the existance of these dojos a sign that he did use to travel and teach in these countries? They could be, but not necessarily.