At the same time, there have also many fortuitous conditions, for example, the fact that the Hombu Dojo escaped destruction during the war. I would also mention the efforts of those who worked to have the Aikido Hombu Dojo legally recognized as a non-profit foundation (zaidan hojin) even before the war. It was first recognized as such in 1940, as the Zaidan Hojin Kobukai, and based on that was later recognized by the Ministry of Education as the Zaidan Hojin Aikikai (Aikikai Foundation) in 1947.
So aikido exists today through a combination of all of these factors: its creation by the founder, my father’s efforts as doshu, the survival of the dojo during the war, the establishment of aikido as a non-profit foundation, as well as the support the founder received from his parents, wife, and many others.
I’ve heard stories of the desperate efforts your father Kisshomaru made to save the dojo from the fires that engulfed much of Tokyo during the war.
I think only about five other buildings in this area managed to survive.
Even the building right next door was burning, so they formed a bucket brigade in a frantic effort to keep the flames from consuming the dojo as well. Everything would have had to have been started from square one again if the dojo had been destroyed then, so it is quite significant for the development of aikido that it was spared.
Yes, I think so. I remember when I was small, there was not yet much activity at the Hombu Dojo. For a time my father was actually in Iwama instead. He married there, and starting around 1949, he worked for about seven years at a company called Osaka Shoji. He had no other choice. Even if you have a dojo, you can’t make a living if nobody is coming to train, which was largely the case after the war.
So, he took a job as an ordinary company employee during the day and taught only in the mornings and evenings. As things gradually began to stabilize, he was eventually influenced by various people to leave the company and take up aikido full time. I think it was deemed most proper for the son of the founder to assume a position of leadership, especially since it would help stimulate membership growth.