Garth and Tara in Japan, September 2007


We had the good fortune to take a trip around Japan with Mary Heiny Sensei. In addition to visiting Tokyo and Kyoto, we traveled to Tanabe, O'Sensei's birthplace, various spots in the Kumano mountain region, and Shingu, on the coast. We had the chance to train in the Shingu dojo where, in the early 1970s, Heiny Sensei trained with and learned from Hikitsuchi Sensei, Anno Sensei, Yanase Sensei, and many others. Here are a few photos from that part of the trip.


The shomen in the Shingu dojo. The shrine houses a piece of O'Sensei's beard. His photo is at the upper right and Hikitsuchi Sensei's is at the left.


Tara and Garth with Anno Sensei after a morning class. We forgot about photos until after we had changed. Anno Sensei, a student of O'Sensei's from long ago, was exceptionally warm and generous, both on and off the mat, during our visit.


Takemusu Aiki. Caligraphy by O'Sensei.


Mary, Tara, and Garth, at Kumano Hongu Taisha, the shrine O'Sensei felt held the spiritual heart of aikido. Tara and Garth participated in a blessing cerimony involving much amazing taiko drumming.


Kumano Hongu Taisha


Tamaki Jinja (Tamaki Shrine). High in the mountains, this shrine is reached by more than an hour of gut churning driving on a one lane road. It is a peaceful, beautiful spot, surrounded by ancient trees and sweeping visits.


Mary with her old friend Sugawa Sensei. Sugawa Sensei took three days away from his business to tour us all over the Kumano mountains. He has more energy than ten normal people and tooks us on a whirlwind tour. We did not have a chance to train with him, but we did learn that his taste in cusine was impeccable - we ate very well!


The gate at the entrance to Kamikurasan, on the outskirts of Shingu. 538 steps lead to the shrine at the top. Back in the day Mary Sensei and other aikido students would run to the top and back before the 6:30 AM class. Anno Sensei drove us over - we thought just to drop us off - but then grabbed a walking stick and went with us. He was 76 that year!


Tara, Yanase Sensei, and Anno Sensei climbing Kamikurasan. We met Yanase Sensei, another student of O'Sensei, on the way up. He was also 76 that year and looks like he could still run up and down the hill a few times.


The great rock at the top and its shrine. Supposedly the kami (spirit) came down from heaven to this rock. It was an impressive sight.


With Tara's help Yanase Sesei changed the water for the flowers and generally cleaned up the shrine while Anno Sensei looked on.


Yanase Sensei and Anno Sensei at Kamikurasan. These two senseis, with whom we could hardly converse, made our morning magical.