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Old 04-18-2017, 02:39 PM   #1
Scott Harrington
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O'sensei's relocation to Iwama

It seems David (Sorokod) has preempted me in a comment in the latest Peter Goldsbury column, regarding O'sensei's relocation to Iwama.

- In addition, 1942 was a turning point in the war in the Pacific (Midway , Guadalcanal). Given the strong connections with the military, Ueshiba may have been privy to this information and form an educated guess as to where things were heading, so another interpretation may be that he was just getting out of harm's way. -

Reading "Memoirs of a Geisha" by Arthur Golden for facts; I am writing a short fictional story (Goldsbury's explanation of the Japanese telling the truth thru a falsehood) of just such a turning point.

Just imagine after a wonderful demonstration / seminar by Ueshiba of his Aikibudo to Naval officers, they retire to a geisha house to drink some sake, nibble on sushi, fondle (if lucky and bold enough) or just look at the pretty girls serving.

Two young Naval officers, who had been referred to this wonderful martial art by the retired Admiral Takeshita (a strong supporter of both Daito ryu and the Aikibudo spin off by Ueshiba) are sitting morosely in the back while everyone is getting tipsy.

Ueshiba sensei approaches them smiling, "You need to drink up! I am so pleased with such a great showing. If you two had suited up you could have flown over some tatami."

"Sensei, a great demonstration! But we came late from the hospital, visiting one of our fellow officers in recovery."

"I hope he is doing well. Should I send a get well postcard?"

"That might be difficult. We had to threaten to use some of your Aikibudo to get in. There is a lockdown to any family or visitors," the tall one sighs.

"A problem?" Ueshiba asks.

"Many problems," the sadder one says. "Many problems."

"Please explain."

The shorter one says, "It is over." "Quiet!" his fellow officer hisses.

"What's over!" Ueshiba's tone demands an answer. This is their instructor; they can tell him things - things kept secret, from the public, the press, and from the damn Army.

Guiding Ueshiba to the quiet lobby, they begin. "Midway is our setting sun," the short one says. "Hey, stop being melodramatic," the other responds.

"Sensei, Midway did not go well. Forget the fake news. We lost too much and they make too much."

"How can the Americans beat us. We have troops in Korean, Manchuria, Burma, Viet Nam, and the Philippines!"

"Sensei, from your days with the abacus, you know you can predict the future of a business, the same with the business of war. With new accounting procedures from a thing called spread sheets -- massive things of papers, columns and numbers - we can manually calculate what we need to support all those troops."

"Yes, we have millions of Army troops scattered about, but our Navy cannot transport them nor supply them. And the Americans openly and boldly print how many ships they manufacture a month. And their submarines…."

"All our raw materials will soon be cut off. Oil, gasoline, steel will dry up. Munitions unavailable. Troops abandoned. The numbers tell a story, not a victorious one."

"And they will bomb. And bomb. And bomb."

Ueshiba is taken aback. "Where is your spirit? We will fight on."

"Say that with an empty belly, when the food runs out."

The pretty geisha came out to the lobby and lightly placed her hands on the Aikibudo master. She could feel the strong muscles tightened under his kimono. "Let me get you a cup of sake."

The two officers watched as their instructor rejoined the party. They turned and left the building, with a war to still fight.

With the Japanese defeat at Midway, the chance to defeat the Americans disappeared. The Press never reported on the failure, dead reassigned postmortem, wounded segregated, and stories of the Midway veterans blocked. The conflict between the Japanese Army and Navy prevented cooler and wiser heads to see what the numbers showed. It was still Leadership by assassination (or the avoidance thereof.) The United States was approaching. It would not be 1942 but it would be soon. Already the shortages began to affect the civilians. What to do, where to go?

Iwama had a farm.

A true fictional story? Who knows....

Scott Harrington
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Old 04-21-2017, 06:13 AM   #2
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: O'sensei's relocation to Iwama

According to Kisshomaru Ueshiba's biography, Morihei Ueshiba had decided to move to Iwama as early as 1941, when "American B29 bombers began to target the Japanese mainland."

Actually, as I have mentioned in earlier columns, Kisshomaru is wildly inaccurate here about the date, since the very first B29 raid took place in November, 1944. Midway was too far away from Japan and regular bombing raids had to wait until the Marianas had been captured and airfields built there that were capable of handling such large planes.

There was indeed the gradual loss of students to the military, but Kisshomaru also mentions the role of the military government.

"Aikido, at that time variously known as Aiki-Budo, Ueshiba-ryu Aiki-Budo, or Kobu-Aiki, was to be incorporated into a larger organization, the Butokukai, as Aikido-bu, the Aikido section. (It was at this time that O Sensei decided he would integrate the name as "Aikido.") For this reason, until the end of the war, Aikido also used the ranking classification of Hanshi, Kyoshi, and Renshi. Frankly speaking, it was at this point that O Sensei determined to move to Iwama. He did not openly oppose the actions of the government, but his integrity would not allow the art he had built in his own lifetime, through blood, sweat and tears, to be subsumed for convenience into a mere section of a larger, bureaucratic organization." (Kisshomaru Ueshiba, A Life in Aikido, p. 266.)

There are details that Kisshomaru does not mention about this government organization, which have to be learned from other, non-aikido related, sources. However, it seems clear to me that the influence of this government-controlled organization was a major factor in his decision.

Have you come across the book entitled, Japan's Longest Day? Compiled by the Pacific War Reseach Society, the book chronicles the efforts made by the military to prevent the Emperor making his surrender broadcast in August 1945, after the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

So, I doubt whether the Battle of Midway had so much influence on Morihei Ueshiba's decision to move to Iwama, compared with the reach of the impersonal organization known as the Butotukai. The role of the Butokukai was partly the reason for the focus of Column 28 on organizations, rather than individuals.

Best wishes,

P A Goldsbury
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Old 04-21-2017, 07:25 AM   #3
Ecosamurai
 
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Re: O'sensei's relocation to Iwama

Slightly off at a tangent, as a farmer I've been wondering for a long time what it was that they farmed at Iwama but can't find much in the way of answer.

I went there last year and visited the aiki shrine but was still none the wiser. My best guess would be wheat and/or vegetables rather than rice paddies. I'm basing this off the little I can remember reading during my PhD (related to agriculture and climate change), and a recollection from somewhere that vegetables grown at Iwama were brought to the Tokyo dojo during and immediately after the war.

I'm not asking out of interest in farming alone, I know from various farm related jobs I do here that there can be a lot of good practise of aikido related movements - fence post knocking comes to mind as an obvious example. I'm interested in aspects of farm work as solo practice in aikido.

"Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men."
-Martin Luther King Jr
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Old 04-21-2017, 10:39 AM   #4
sorokod
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Re: O'sensei's relocation to Iwama

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
According to Kisshomaru Ueshiba's biography, Morihei Ueshiba had decided to move to Iwama as early as 1941, when "American B29 bombers began to target the Japanese mainland."

Actually, as I have mentioned in earlier columns, Kisshomaru is wildly inaccurate here about the date, since the very first B29 raid took place in November, 1944. Midway was too far away from Japan and regular bombing raids had to wait until the Marianas had been captured and airfields built there that were capable of handling such large planes.
The (largely symbolic ) Doolittle Raid occurred in April 1942

Quote:
"... but his integrity would not allow the art he had built in his own lifetime, through blood, sweat and tears, to be subsumed for convenience into a mere section of a larger, bureaucratic organization." (Kisshomaru Ueshiba, A Life in Aikido, p. 266.)
Did Kisshomaru Ueshiba allowed himself to be ironic here?

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Old 04-21-2017, 01:15 PM   #5
Ethan Weisgard
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Re: O'sensei's relocation to Iwama

Mike, a quick answer here. In Iwama they farmed rice and vegetables. It was basically to supply sustenance for the family and extended family.

I remember the first time I went to Iwama in 1984, Saito Sensei took us newbie uchi deshi out to help out at a friend's rice field. Us city boys were pretty helpless!

In aiki,
Ethan
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Old 04-21-2017, 03:49 PM   #6
Scott Harrington
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Re: O'sensei's relocation to Iwama

So, you are saying (along with Kisshomaru) that the Founder of Aikido scurried to Iwama because of an organization authorized under the deadly "Ministry of Education" (oooh, shades of Harry Potter and those poor students), the Dai Nippon Butoku Kai (大日本武徳会), whose purpose was; hold exhibitions and tournaments, collect weapons and equipment, maintain documents detailing classical combative arts, and publish martial-arts related material.

And over a name change? How many different variations did Ueshiba go thru slowly separating from Takeda's Daito ryu? Answer -- lots.

And the anglophile Kano (who had lots more members) could tough it out? Yeah. I'm reminded of Donn Draeger's book "Judo Training Methods : A Sourcebook", with Takahiko Ishikawa 1961 where he spent a forest of pages on Judo organization and tournament rules and was invalid before it made it to the printing press. Politics of ineffectiveness.

As to Japan's Longest Day? Compiled by the Pacific War Research Society, I have not read it but have a jaundiced eye since they also published The Day Man Lost: Hiroshima, 6 August 1945. Tell that to the hundreds of thousands saved by the two Atomic bombs (including EVERY live Allied prisoner whose neck narrowly avoided touching gently curved steel.)

I have read and watched accounts of the difficulties regarding the surrender in 1945. No Ministry of Education teachers there. Of course the Army wanted to go down in flames, they still had troops everywhere. Just couldn't get them to the homeland for the Divine Wind (Kamikaze -- not the pilots but the weather incident [Oct. 24, 1945, Typhoon Louise] which would have possibly hit during the land invasion!)

Ueshiba had hitched his wagon to three horses which eventually bucked him into the ditch. 1) Daito ryu under Takeda Sokaku from which he broke over money and modifications 2) Omoto-kyo from which nearly got him arrested and had to distance himself politically and 3) Japan's military having taught both formally and informally its members.

And I can just hear the feedback Ueshiba heard from Tomiki (before he was put in a Soviet Concentration Camp) of the massive corruption, rapacious theft, and ongoing money-making kidnappings and unsolved deaths at the hands of the occupying Japanese Army. Read "Secret Agent of Japan" by Amleto Vespa to tear away the veil of Aikido's happy time in Manchuria.

"Shattered Sword: the Untold Story of the Battle of Midway" by Jonathan B. Parshall and Anthony P. Tully clearly points out the ‘writing on the wall' with the loss of the Carriers, plus the Japanese Government setting up a wall of fake news to cover the defeat.

Ueshiba's Navy contacts would have surely told him the ramifications which would lead to the eventual ‘pay the piper' time coming due from Pearl Harbor.

Midway and Iwama fit in the same Kendo glove.

Scott Harrington
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Old 04-21-2017, 07:58 PM   #7
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: O'sensei's relocation to Iwama

Quote:
David Soroko wrote: View Post
The (largely symbolic ) Doolittle Raid occurred in April 1942
The reorganization of the Butokukai and the incorporation of aikido began from April 1942 onwards. Morihei Ueshiba moved to Iwama not long after this reorganization was completed.

Quote:
David Soroko wrote: View Post
Did Kisshomaru Ueshiba allowed himself to be ironic here?
I quoted the English translation of the Japanese text. I do not see any irony in the Japanese original, but a rather forthright expression of Kisshomaru's own view. But you can judge for yourself:

「率直にいって、この時点で開祖は明確に岩間へ転住に踏み切ったもののようである。
 国策に異を唱えるわがままこそ自制したが、己れが一代の辛酸と研鑽とをもって築きあげた合気道である、それが便宜的 に、「合気道部」などで一括されることに、開祖の潔癖が耐えられようはずはなかった。」『合気道開祖植芝盛平伝』. p. 256.

Best wishes,

PAG

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Old 04-21-2017, 09:05 PM   #8
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: O'sensei's relocation to Iwama

Quote:
Scott Harrington wrote: View Post
So, you are saying (along with Kisshomaru) that the Founder of Aikido scurried to Iwama because of an organization authorized under the deadly "Ministry of Education" (oooh, shades of Harry Potter and those poor students), the Dai Nippon Butoku Kai (大日本武徳会), whose purpose was; hold exhibitions and tournaments, collect weapons and equipment, maintain documents detailing classical combative arts, and publish martial-arts related material.
No. I am not saying this. You are putting words into my mouth.

Quote:
Scott Harrington wrote: View Post
And over a name change? How many different variations did Ueshiba go thru slowly separating from Takeda's Daito ryu? Answer -- lots.
Yes. But this name change was different and included quite a lot more besides the mere name change.

Quote:
Scott Harrington wrote: View Post
As to Japan's Longest Day? Compiled by the Pacific War Research Society, I have not read it but have a jaundiced eye since they also published The Day Man Lost: Hiroshima, 6 August 1945. Tell that to the hundreds of thousands saved by the two Atomic bombs (including EVERY live Allied prisoner whose neck narrowly avoided touching gently curved steel.)
Wow! I hope I do not catch your jaundice. Having lived here for nearly 40 years, I also know lots of people whose families suffered terribly from the atomic bomb. But I am British and lost an uncle in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp. I do not know how he died, but I can imagine what happened. At least, his body was recovered in 1945 and he is buried in the family grave at home. So I think I am in a position to see both sides.
It might also interest you to know that I will go to the Peace Museum on Monday, to have a preview of the revamped A-Bomb exhibition, which has taken two years to complete. I can assure you that as the sole foreigner who is a member of the board of directors, I shall be interested to see whether there is the same attention given to Hiroshima's role as a wartime military city as there was before the exhibition was revamped. If there is not, I shall have plenty to say.

Quote:
Scott Harrington wrote: View Post
Ueshiba had hitched his wagon to three horses which eventually bucked him into the ditch. 1) Daito ryu under Takeda Sokaku from which he broke over money and modifications 2) Omoto-kyo from which nearly got him arrested and had to distance himself politically and 3) Japan's military having taught both formally and informally its members.

And I can just hear the feedback Ueshiba heard from Tomiki (before he was put in a Soviet Concentration Camp) of the massive corruption, rapacious theft, and ongoing money-making kidnappings and unsolved deaths at the hands of the occupying Japanese Army. Read "Secret Agent of Japan" by Amleto Vespa to tear away the veil of Aikido's happy time in Manchuria.

"Shattered Sword: the Untold Story of the Battle of Midway" by Jonathan B. Parshall and Anthony P. Tully clearly points out the ‘writing on the wall' with the loss of the Carriers, plus the Japanese Government setting up a wall of fake news to cover the defeat.
You are preaching to the converted here. But before you dismiss the Dai Nippon Butokukai completely, I suggest you read Denis Gainty's book, entitled, Martial Arts and the Body Politic in Meiji Japan. It was published in 2013.

P A Goldsbury
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Old 04-21-2017, 09:10 PM   #9
Scott Harrington
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Re: O'sensei's relocation to Iwama

Battle of Midway - Between 4 and 7 June 1942.

From Wikipedia: Military historian John Keegan [Battle of Midway] called it "the most stunning and decisive blow in the history of naval warfare."

Wikipedia again: The Japanese public and much of the military command structure were kept in the dark about the extent of the defeat: Japanese news announced a great victory. Only Emperor Hirohito and the highest Navy command personnel were accurately informed of the carrier and pilot losses. Consequently, even the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) continued to believe, for at least a short time, that the fleet was in good condition.

Wikipedia again: [Midway] Osmus was held on Arashi; O'Flaherty and Gaido on the cruiser Nagara (or destroyer Makigumo, sources vary); all three were interrogated, and then killed by being tied to water-filled kerosene cans and thrown overboard to drown.

Gregrory Cochran writing about Midway and torture: "Happened all the time. At the Battle of Midway, two American fliers, whose planes had been shot down near the Japanese carriers, were pulled out of the water and threatened with death unless they revealed the position of the American carriers. They did so, and were then promptly executed. Later, at Guadalcanal, the Japanese captured an American soldier who told them about a planned offensive -- with that knowledge the Japanese withdrew from the area about to be attacked. I don't why he talked [the guy didn't survive] -- maybe a Japanese interrogator spent a long time building a bond of trust with that Marine. But probably not. For one thing, time was short. I see people saying that building such a bond is in the long run more effective, but of course in war, time is often short."

War is hell.

On the quote, this is from the same Kisshomaru who extremely 'downplayed' Takeda Sokaku and photoshopped the kanban - editing out the Daito ryu kanji.

Somehow I don't see a Harper Valley P.T.A. hit song going on about the Butokukai. So he's upset about a taxonomic rank in an organization as his homeland is about to endure a horrendous non-stop bombing and potential invasion? Naaaaw.

Scott Harrington
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Old 04-21-2017, 09:26 PM   #10
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Re: O'sensei's relocation to Iwama

- Wow! I hope I do not catch your jaundice. - War is hell. The only thing worse in war is losing.

During the First Gulf War, a reporter latched on that the U.S. Government was placing an order for Purple Heart medals (awarded for wounds under combat) and that this meant the Military leadership expected a bloodbath. Come to find out, the US had been using up the vast stock made for the expected Invasion of Japan and that same supply had lasted thru the Korean War and Vietnam War.

The kata that got away from me was from a friend offering to teach me the 'rudimentary' bamboo spear form taught to Japanese civilians in repelling the US soldiers. Thank God it was never tested in actual battlefield use. Many died (terribly) so many more could live. I could say it is a shame, but that seems very shallow.

The Smithsonian had a minor 'incident' regarding the display of the Enola Gay. The past is the past, just some want to shade it.

Scott Harrington
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Old 04-22-2017, 03:04 AM   #11
Dazaifoo
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Re: O'sensei's relocation to Iwama

I had a pet theory that the death of Tsutomu Yukawa (August 42 according to the Romanian info website) may have played a contributing role in Ueshiba's decision to relocate and dissociate. Maybe not the primary motivator, but one of a number of things going on in his life. Something that may have made him more introspective. Yukawa was stabbed to death in brawl by a Japanese soldier in Osaka in 42. A Japanese soldier killing one of his students may have put Ueshiba into a state where he wanted to withdraw. I seem to recall that Yukawa accompanied him to Manchuria on a peace mission or some such in 41, and to have lost him in such a terrible way may have been the event that made Ueshiba's relocation to Iwama more long term. The justification that the bombings were the cause may have been an after the fact, neat and tidy explanation. Maybe. Just had to put in my two cents. Grist for the mill and all that.
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