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An Aikido Life (11)

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by Gozo Shioda

Aiki News #82 (October 1989)

The following translation from the Japanese-language autobiography entitled ‘Aikido Jinsei” (An Aikido Life) by Gozo Shioda Sensei of Yoshinkan Aikido is published with the kind permission of the author and the publisher, Takeuchi Shoten Shnisha. The series began with AIKI NEWS No. 72.

Meeting an Old Friend in Formosa

The staff of the Embassy (of the Japanese Empire) in Formosa (present-day Taiwan) were surprised at these souvenirs of Czechoslovakian pistols, and were very pleased at our arrival, safe and sound. Mr. Uraoka was also pleased with my heroic actions - he was almost as proud as if he had done them himself. I continued to live it up, and soon had spent almost all the money I had. By the third day, I had to leave but I lacked even the traveling money to continue my journey, and was compelled to ask General Hata for some more money. He sent 300 yen, writing: “This money is the last.” I went to the Expeditionary Force in Shanghai where I picked up the money. On the fourth day, I left Shanghai, not by airplane this time, but on a small ship, called the Rozan Maru, which made the connection between Shanghai and Taiwan. After three days, the ship finally arrived at the port of Kirun, Taiwan. As the Rozan Maru docked in Kirun port, the Takasago Maru from Japan was also heading for the same quay. I glanced at the deck of the Taiasago Maru and saw Shiro Ogawa standing there. He saw me too and waved his hands. I was overcome with excitement and shouted out his name. He was my comrade in the Kobe Plot. Impatient even during the customs inspection, we were pleased with our encounter and took each other’s hands. “You actually survived the plot, didn’t you?” Ogawa said to me, struck with admiration. “You shouldn’t say such inauspicious things. I’m quite fine, without any physical injuries, as you can see.” I asked Ogawa what he really meant to say. According to his report, the civilian and the military police in Japan were frantically searching for one Shioda, a master of Aikido, to arrest at the earliest possible moment. This Shioda, however, was rumored to already be in Shanghai in disguise, and was waiting for the right opportunity to assassinate Wang Ching-wei, head of the Celestial Empire. This rumor seemed to have been spread throughout Japan. Nothing is so strong as innocence, and I had not the slightest suspicion that such a story was spreading in Japan. On the contrary, I had continued to sing the joys of my youth in Shanghai, and to enjoy fully the pleasures of life, night and day. We both burst into roars of laughter. That night we stayed at an inn in Kirun and talked to each other all night. “Ogawa! Why on earth did you come to Formosa?” I asked him. “By the order of Mr. ‘I.’ After meeting with you in Taiwan, I am ordered to go to Lieutenant General Wachi with you to undertake studies of the southern countries. So I came here,” he answered me. The next day we started for Taipei together. When we arrived we went to a hotel for the night. The next morning I rang up the Headquarters of the Taiwan Army and was ordered to appear there by 10:00 a.m.. I went to see General Wachi, Chief of the General Staff at the headquarters just before 10:00 a.m. After I had waited for half an hour, I met with the General, to whom I at once handed the letter from General Hata. Needless to say, I had no way of knowing the contents of the letter, but he read through it, and said to me. “I see. I’ll have my subordinate arrange immediately for a plane to Canton.”

A Week in Canton

I had fulfilled my errand by handing the letter to General Wachi. I left alone for Canton in the morning two days later. Ogawa got a job for the time being in the Nanpo Kyokal (Southern Association) which was an association affiliated with the Taiwan Army. Its chairman was Mr. Kikuchi, a former Lieutenant General of the Japanese Imperial Army. As soon as I arrived in Canton by plane, I visited general headquarters, but unfortunately Lieutenant General Atomiya was out. I received a message to appear there by 11:00 a.m. the next morning. So I went again at 11:00 a.m. the following day. The Lieutenant General welcomed me warmly. I handed him the letter from General Hata. He said to me, “You are welcome here,” and whole-heartedly thanked me for my troubles. That night, he held a grand dinner party expressly for me. When I told him at the party that I would go next to Lieutenant General Nagai in Hanoi, he advised me, “You shouldn’t go to Hanoi now, because unfortunately there is a cholera epidemic. I will send this letter to the Lieutenant General on my own responsibility.” I willingly accepted his warm and opportune offer, handed him the letter, and asked him to send it to Hanoi. The banquet was approaching its climax, and the night wore on. I stayed that night in a hotel room reserved by the General. As the room was very good and I had a comfortable bed, I slept very soundly. I went to the headquarters again the next morning and expressed my heartfelt gratitude for his warm welcome of the previous night. “If you don’t have any urgent business, would you like to stay here for a week to do some sightseeing?” I decided to stay on his recommendation. Headquarters hired an interpreter for me, and as a result that week left me with the most impressive and tranquil memories of my eventful youth. I visited to my heart’s content the famous and historic places in and around Canton.

Chapter Four: In the Southern Countries

I returned to Formosa at the end of August. I met at once with Lieutenant General Wachi to express my thanks, and I said to him, “I’d like to go back to General Hata in Nanking.” “Your friend, Ogawa, has enrolled in the Southern Association. Would you like to join too? Your duties would be to supervise and teach Japanese to 13 Vietnamese (who were conspiring to win Vietnam’s independence from the controlling power France) who were found in French-occupied Indochina when the Japanese Taiwan army entered there.” He urged me to work for the Southern Association. Even if I went back to Nanking, I thought, I might not be able to find an appropriate job. On top of that, if I joined, I could spend time again with my comrade, Ogawa. I decided to become a member of the group too. General Wachi told me later that in the letter General Hata had written to him, the General had asked him to make an effort to find me a job in Taiwan. “Thank you for the trouble you have taken to find me this job. Now, how can I explain this to General Hata?” - I asked him. “I will explain all the details to him,” he promised. So, without the slightest anxiety, I left my future fortune in General Wachi’s hands. He immediately wrote a letter of introduction addressed to the Director General of the Southern Association. “Since I will tell him about you on the phone, you can go there whenever you like,” he told me.

Post with the Southern Association

The next day, I went to the Association where I met Mr. Kikuchi, the Director General, and was formally admitted as a member. I was to be paid 95 yen a month. Ogawa had already gone to Hokuto to teach. It took about two hours by train from Taipei to reach Hokuto, a hot spring resort town, not unlike Atami in Japan. It had a valley in which many villas of Taiwan’s richest and most famous people were located. The Formosan Army borrowed a villa from a certain influential Formosan where they housed and guarded the 13 patriots. Hokuto was also an amusement quarter. Rows of restaurants, bars, and tea houses, their red lanterns glowing seductively, beckoned young men like us to sample their delights. But in other ways, Hokuto was a really wonderful place.

I went to Hokuto with high hopes and big dreams. When I met my old friend Ogawa again, I felt as happy as if I were meeting my lover. He was also pleased. We talked and drank sake till late at night. As he described it, the substance of my work was less difficult than I had imagined, and I would be able to perform my duties easily. We got up every morning at 7:00 a.m. and after the Japanese National Flag was raised, had breakfast prepared by Vietnamese cooks. Vietnamese dishes, with red peppers in almost everything, were too spicy for me. I tried to eat, but in vain. I always left most of my meals on my plate. Japanese lessons began at 10:00 a.m. I taught them the rudiments of Japanese pronunciation, “a, i, u, e, o” until 11:30 a.m. From 2:00 until 3:30 p.m. we worked on the farm. That was our daily schedule. Ogawa and I had free time every day after 4:00 p.m. Sunday was a holiday, and the Vietnamese were permitted to go out from 8:00 a.m. to 6.-00 p.m. and do as they liked.

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