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Old 09-27-2011, 05:37 AM   #1
Carsten Möllering
 
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Ueshiba family samurai?

Hi,

in a discussion the question was raised whether the Ueshiba family was originally samurai or not?
In some Texts of John Stevens he mentiones the family to be of samurai status.
Is there some more evidence?

Thank you,
Carsten
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Old 09-27-2011, 10:31 AM   #2
tlk52
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Re: Ueshiba family samurai?

in the aikido journal interview with Noriaki Inoue (O'Sensei's nephew) in the book "aikido masters" by Stanley Pranin he tells the story (p.22) of Morehei coming to their house dressed up to go through a ceremony for officially becoming a martial arts teacher. he says that they all laughed about "a farmer becoming a jujitsu teacher".

hence, I assume that they were not samurai.

does anyone know if that's correct?
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Old 09-27-2011, 11:06 AM   #3
Fred Little
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Re: Ueshiba family samurai?

Quote:
Toby Kasavan wrote: View Post
in the aikido journal interview with Noriaki Inoue (O'Sensei's nephew) in the book "aikido masters" by Stanley Pranin he tells the story (p.22) of Morehei coming to their house dressed up to go through a ceremony for officially becoming a martial arts teacher. he says that they all laughed about "a farmer becoming a jujitsu teacher".

hence, I assume that they were not samurai.

does anyone know if that's correct?
During the rule of Hideyoshi, class structures became fixed; whereas there had previously been a tradition of farmer samurai (among other formations), Hideyoshi's edicts essentially forced a choice: Those who wished to remain samurai had to leave the land and depend on stipends from great lords. Those who wished to remain on the land (this applied to some individuals who were interested in medicine and other fields as well) had to give up their social status as samurai.

Thus, there are many families within Japan who were certainly not considered hereditary military households during the subsequent Tokugawa period, who nonetheless maintain a family tradition that they "are from samurai backgrounds." I have seen quotations from Ueshiba Morihei in which he makes an assertion of this kind. But the potential for other members of the same family to give someone a bit of ribbing for what might be called "putting on airs" after a few hundred years of farm-life is pretty clear, even if the claim is historically impeccable.

Best,

Fred Little

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Old 09-29-2011, 06:38 AM   #4
SteliosPapadakis
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Re: Ueshiba family samurai?

Maybe totally irrelevant to anything but...what happened to Ueshiba's daughter(s)?
Do we have any clue of her/their fate?
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Old 09-29-2011, 07:18 AM   #5
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Ueshiba family samurai?

Hello Fred,

In the family tree that appears in the Japanese original of Kisshomaru's biography, the Ueshiba family line starts with Kichiemon and Kisshomaru adds the following comment:

秋津、植芝家より一女を連れ西ノ谷村に隠居、別に植芝家を建てる。

So Kichiemon was adopted when he married a Ueshiba daughter. But this does not go very far back into the Tokugawa era.

Given Kisshomaru's detailed discussion of whereabouts in Tanabe the Ueshiba family house was situated, I think that if the Ueshibas had been samurai, this would have been proclaimed from the housetops.

Best wishes,

PAG

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Old 09-29-2011, 02:17 PM   #6
tarik
 
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Re: Ueshiba family samurai?

Quote:
Fred Little wrote: View Post
Thus, there are many families within Japan who were certainly not considered hereditary military households during the subsequent Tokugawa period, who nonetheless maintain a family tradition that they "are from samurai backgrounds.
This is akin to many Middle Eastern assertions of adventurous "bedu" heritage when most families are actually fellahin. Maybe somewhere, a long time back.. maybe, but it's a popular claim because it lends romance and a bit of excitement.

Regards,

Tarik Ghbeish
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Old 09-29-2011, 02:36 PM   #7
Fred Little
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Talking Re: Ueshiba family samurai?

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
Hello Fred,

In the family tree that appears in the Japanese original of Kisshomaru's biography, the Ueshiba family line starts with Kichiemon and Kisshomaru adds the following comment:

秋津、植芝家より一女を連れ西ノ谷村に隠居、別に植芝家を建てる。

So Kichiemon was adopted when he married a Ueshiba daughter. But this does not go very far back into the Tokugawa era.

Given Kisshomaru's detailed discussion of whereabouts in Tanabe the Ueshiba family house was situated, I think that if the Ueshibas had been samurai, this would have been proclaimed from the housetops.

Best wishes,

PAG
Thank you for the citation, Peter!

The quote that I was recalling was one from Morihei, (in English,not in Japanese) in which he asserted that his family had "moved many times over the years, always in service to the Emperor" or some such formulation -- which is one of those sideways assertions that suggests something without stating anything that could be disproved.

But being American, I am, of course, immune to such subtlety.

Best,

Fred

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Old 09-29-2011, 06:28 PM   #8
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Re: Ueshiba family samurai?

Let's not forget that during the Meji restoration period, the caste system was abolished. Numerous samurai had to give up the sword and pick up a new profession. Ala farmer, potter, fisherman, etc.... So a lot of generational farmers and such are desendants of samurai.
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Old 09-29-2011, 09:34 PM   #9
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Re: Ueshiba family samurai?

Quote:
Fred Little wrote: View Post
The quote that I was recalling was one from Morihei, (in English,not in Japanese) in which he asserted that his family had "moved many times over the years, always in service to the Emperor" or some such formulation -- which is one of those sideways assertions that suggests something without stating anything that could be disproved.
Also deflecting potential criticism. Like an American saying that his family moved often because his father was in the Army, as opposed to, say, being unable to pay the rent.

In that era in Japan, wouldn't "in service to the Emperor" have applied to most of society, not just the samurai class?

Katherine
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Old 09-30-2011, 02:10 AM   #10
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Ueshiba family samurai?

Quote:
Fred Little wrote: View Post
Thank you for the citation, Peter!

The quote that I was recalling was one from Morihei, (in English,not in Japanese) in which he asserted that his family had "moved many times over the years, always in service to the Emperor" or some such formulation -- which is one of those sideways assertions that suggests something without stating anything that could be disproved.

But being American, I am, of course, immune to such subtlety.

Best,

Fred
Hello Fred,

The quote can be found in the English translation of the interview with Asahi Shimbun reporters, published in Aikido FAQ. Here it is with the Japanese original:

"My family has been loyal to the Imperial Household for many generations. And we have been wholehearted in our support. In fact, my ancestors gave up property and fortune and moved all over in service of the Imperial Family."

「わたしの家は代々勤皇の家柄でしてね。それもちょっとやそっとじやない。家も財産も投げ出して東奔西走していた人だそうですね。」

"Watashi no ie wa daidai kinnou no iegara deshite ne. Sore mo chotto ya sotto ja nai. Ie mo zaisan mo nagedashite touhon seisou shite ita hito da sou desu ne."

PAG

Last edited by Peter Goldsbury : 09-30-2011 at 02:18 AM.

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Old 09-30-2011, 06:30 AM   #11
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Re: Ueshiba family samurai?

Quote:
Katherine Derbyshire wrote: View Post
Also deflecting potential criticism. Like an American saying that his family moved often because his father was in the Army, as opposed to, say, being unable to pay the rent.

In that era in Japan, wouldn't "in service to the Emperor" have applied to most of society, not just the samurai class?

Katherine
i was thinking the same thing. it sounded way more cool when you said "i am in the service of the Emperor", instead of "i am taking my hoe here and go plan some rice in that field over there!"
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Old 10-01-2011, 07:45 AM   #12
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Re: Ueshiba family samurai?

I recall reading, but can't remember the book, about O'Sense when he was young that his father would tell him stories about his grandfather who was a "great samurai." Not that it matters.

Lyle Laizure
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Old 10-01-2011, 09:49 AM   #13
JO
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Re: Ueshiba family samurai?

Quote:
Lyle Laizure wrote: View Post
I recall reading, but can't remember the book, about O'Sense when he was young that his father would tell him stories about his grandfather who was a "great samurai." Not that it matters.
It might have been on his mother's side. In the biographical introduction by K. Ueshiba in Budo (Kodansha edition). It describes O-Sensei's mother (Yuki Itokawa) as coming from "a landowning family of noble descent".

Jonathan Olson
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Old 10-01-2011, 10:44 PM   #14
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Ueshiba family samurai?

Hello Jonathan,

In this connection, the following quotation might be of interest. It is taken from pp. 5 and 6 of anthropologist Takie Sugiyama Lebra's book Above the Clouds: Status Culture of the Modern Japanese Nobility, published in 1993.

"It is all too natural that a commoner Japanese will elevate his or her "original" ancestor to the status of a village headman, samurai, warlord, feudal domain lord, court noble, royal prince, or emperor. Stories of subsequent family downfall (to explain one's present commoner status) are heard more often than those of ascension from bottom to top. Given the ancestor cult, the individual bases his or her self-esteem in part on aristocratized ancestors. There is nothing surprising in the Japanese tendency to trace genealogies upwards to prominent ancestors rather than downwards to obscurity. If one's own ancestry is found not to be too lofty, vicarious identity may be drawn from borrowed genealogy. In the iemoto, for example—traditional schools of art such as the tea ceremony, flower arrangement, dance and music—the grand master (himself called iemoto as well) is worshipped by his disciples as embodying the essential formula of the art created by his "original" ancestor and perpetuated by more recent ancestors. By becoming attached to the iemoto master, a disciple takes part in the long line of distinguished descent of the iemoto family and thereby elevates his or her identity. In the same vein, the nobility has a popular appeal as a model for identity construction. The nobility, like the iemoto, represents the "other" for the commoner "self"; via ancestors, however, the noble other becomes accessible and absorbable into self.

"It is against this general background of genealogical aristocratization—whether direct or vicarious—that we can understand the persistent idiom of kishu, "noble species" or "of noble origin," as a category of people. How often we hear such phrases as yuisho tadashii, rekki to shita, o-ienagara no yoi, kakushiki no takai (all meaning "of proper origin" or "of good birth") in asserting a person's unequivocal reputation. Bridal candidates for royal princes, including those of commoner origin, are characterized in these terms by the approving media. In a TV show featuring Crown Prince Hiro's speculated marriage choice, the emcee was carried away in endorsing one potential candidate: "Miss ------ is fully qualified in every respect. First of all, she is from the right kind of family [rippana o-ienagara]." A Gakushuin University student, "she has been the best friend of Princess Nori since primary school at Gakushuin." Even though her family does not belong to the nobility, still "her great-grandmother is said to have mothered Emperor Taisho. "In other words, "Miss ------" virtually "came from the nobility [kazoku shusshin de irassharu]." The speaker was saying what the audience wanted to hear.

Quote:
Jonathan Olson wrote: View Post
It might have been on his mother's side. In the biographical introduction by K. Ueshiba in Budo (Kodansha edition). It describes O-Sensei's mother (Yuki Itokawa) as coming from "a landowning family of noble descent".
In his father's biography, Kisshomaru gives more detail. His mother came from the Itogawa family, who were descended from the Takeda family, you know, the famous samurai family from Kai Province. Kisshomaru does not mention that the Takedas were eliminated in 1582 by Oda Nobunaga.

Best wishes,

PAG

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