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Founder of Aikido (17): Master Onisaburo Deguchi

by Kisshomaru Ueshiba

Aiki News #46 (March 1982)

We would like to thank Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba for his kind permission to publish these chapter summaries.

This Ueda started out as a sort of judge, a saniwa, that is to say, a person who is relied on to determine whether a particular god is one of good or evil.

Kisaburo was born in Kameoka City, at a place called Anao in 1871. He came from tenant-farmer stock, but the family had had a bright star seven generations earlier with the rise of the very famous artist Okyo Maruyama from among their ranks. Master Onisaburo’s own personal genius in calligraphy, drawing, sculpture and the pottery style known as Yowan, probably descended from the time of Okyo. One of his cousins was the artist Gasho Tamura.

In his infancy Kisaburo was weak and very sensitive, nervous and jittery. His grandmother, Uno, raised him to be a “scholar”. And interesting point to note is that this woman Uno was the daughter of Kodo Nakayama, the author of the book Ninon Kotodama Gaku (The Study of Japanese Kotodama, or The Science of the Power of Words in Japan). So it was that the foundation of the Kotodama study, which Onisaburo later systematized and which so greatly influenced the Founder Morihei, was already being layed early in Onisaburo’s life.

As a child he was considered a genius and by the age of 12, he was already acting as a substitute teacher. But during the next year he received instruction in misogi and harai (purifying ablutions and exorcism”) from the teacher Yusuke Kishimoto of the Myorei church and became interested in old Shinto. He quit his job as a teacher and entered a night school at Kongo Ji, a zen-sect temple. There he studied Buddhist scripture and the Chinese Classics.

An ability in prose and poetry gradually developed and at about the age of twenty, he became absorbed in a style of poetry called “Kanku” which was popular at the time. He regularly submitted his work to a magazine called Ahorashi (“Silly”). Humor was a God-given talent of the master so we can understand why he included optimism among the “Four Great Principles of Oomoto”, the other three being purity, progress and unification.

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