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Aikikai Hombu Dojo celebrates 70 years

by Stanley Pranin

Aikido Journal #121

A celebration in commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the Aikikai Foundation and the 70th anniversary of the Aikido Hombu Dojo was held at the Keio Plaza Hotel in Tokyo on October 21. Some 1,500 people including many foreign visitors were on hand for this festive occasion that centered on Aikido Doshu Moriteru Ueshiba. A number of dignitaries gave speeches among them Chairman of the Board of Directors Yoshimasa Miyazaki, former Japanese Prime Minister Toshio Kaifu, and the Doshu. In addition, several Japanese shihan residing abroad and heads of foreign aikido organizations traveled to Tokyo to join in the celebration. I think that if it were not for the tragic events in the USA in September many more participants would have come from abroad.

The Hombu Dojo was originally opened in 1931 as the "Kobukan Dojo." It was the scene of the transition of the Founder Ueshiba’s art into what would later become modern aikido. The dojo became incorporated as the Kobukai Foundation in 1940. The non-profit corporation was reestablished after the war in 1948 as the Aikikai Foundation.

A highlight of the event was the unveiling of a memorial plaque (see photo below) dedicated to Second Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba. A similar plaque of the Founder Morihei Ueshiba hangs in a prominent place at the Aikikai.

Those present were sent home with a gift package containing among other items a pamphlet with lots of interesting photos outlining the history of the Aikikai and the Hombu Dojo.

Cameras were flashing everywhere and here is a selection of shots I took to give an idea of the atmosphere inside the banquet room where the event was held.

Keio Plaza party highlights

View of crowd gathered in banquet room

Doshu addresses the audience

Another shot of Doshu Moriteru Ueshiba delivering speech

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