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Minoru Mochizuki Essay (1)

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by Minoru Mochizuki

Aiki News #78 (September 1988)

The following article was prepared with the kind assistance of Tomas Reiche of the USA.

“A culture is born in a given nation. However, once it has developed and become internationalized, it suddenly vanishes as if by magic from that nation and never again returns.” (Passage translated from the Japanese) This is a statement of Dr. Arnold Toynbee, a British historian and philosopher.

I imagine that numerous aspects of Japanese culture have influenced the world. Certainly one of them is the book entitled Theory of the Way of the Japanese Warrior or Bushido written in America during the first half of the Taisho Period (1912-1925) by Dr. Inazo Nitobe (1862-1933), an educator and specialist in agricultural administration. His book has been translated into the major languages and has been a perennial bestseller. I personally saw the impact of this book when I visited Europe 37 years ago in 1951.

Since the news of the suicides of Japanese military officers such as Mr. Anan, the Minister of War, was fresh in people’s memories, it seemed to have given many abroad the impression that seppuku (suicide by disembowelment) was an everyday event in Japan. On more than a few occasions I was asked the proper way of performing “harakiri” by martial art practitioners since I was teaching iai and kumitachi (paired sword practices) in addition to Judo. Fortunately, I had been taught by my teachers various ways of performing harakiri – using a long sword, a short sword, horizontally, making a cross or a simplified cross and about the depth of the cut. In any event, the morality of the Japanese warriors was highly regarded in relation to European chivalry.

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