We’ve just had our 37th Annual Aikido Demonstration [at the Nippon Budokan], but demonstrations back then were held in places like the rooftop of Takashimaya department store. I remember going there with my grandmother to watch one of them.
Also, I believe my father enthusiastically encouraged many of the university students training at the Hombu Dojo to form aikido clubs back at their schools, so gradually aikido dojos began to appear in many parts of the country as those students graduated and returned to their hometowns.
Encouraging the formation of university aikido clubs seems to have been an important element in spreading aikido.
Did you yourself ever train at a university club?
No, I was busy training at the Hombu Dojo, so I didn’t have any particular interest in training at a university club. Of course it also had to do with the fact that I was too busy enjoying myself doing other things. (laughs)
I’ve heard you were a member of your university’s calligraphy club instead.
(Laughs) Ah, that I was… I wanted to improve my handwriting, but I must confess I didn’t pursue it that seriously. I was in the calligraphy club, but actually I spent most of my time doing things with my friends and so on, just like any university student (laughs).
When did you first start travelling abroad to teach aikido?
The very first time was in 1975, when I went with Mamoru Suganuma Shihan to accompany Doshu around Europe. The atmosphere of the training in each place we went was different depending on the teacher hosting us. In any case, it was my first time abroad, so everything was quite new to me. I remember being particularly impressed, for example, that our hotel in Rome had been built in such a way that it actually incorporated some ancient ruins. I also remember thinking how beautiful the sea in Cannes was.
To tell the truth, most of my memories and impressions from that trip had more to do with it being my first time abroad than with the aikido training. We were only there for twenty-five days, but it was still a pretty packed schedule.