“Add Morihei Ueshiba’s Name Card to Your Collection of Aikido Memorabilia!”, by Stanley Pranin

More interesting items have come to light as I sift through boxes and photo albums. Today’s find is a “meishi” or name card of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba. This is an extremely interesting document, and there is a long and involved story to be told in this connection.

First, here is what is written on the meishi:

“Morihei Ueshiba
President, Jinrui Aizenkai Tokyo-to Rengokai”

This is followed by the address of the Tokyo branch of the Aizenkai near Ueno Park, and in addition, the address of Morihei’s residence which is the same as that of the old Aikikai Hombu Dojo.

What is this Jinrui Aizenkai? This association was an auxiliary organization established by Onisaburo Deguchi in May 1925. It is usually translated into English as the “Universal Love and Brotherhood Association.” The descendant of this association still exists today as a Non-Profit Organization with branches in many countries.

Here is an excerpt from the mission statement issued by Onisaburo Deguchi shortly after the founding of the Aizenkai:

“This Association exalts the noble cause of Love of Mankind, and hope to make its best efforts to bring about the friendship and harmony of the whole human race, thus bringing about a world of light eternally full of happiness and joy.

The human race are essentially brothers and sisters, one in body and spirit. To return to this basic principle is the profoundest desire of the divine nature in all people, as well as the loftiest ideal of the human race. However, in recent years, the state of the world has changed suddenly, the way has become dark, and the hearts of the people are hard and corrupt, with truly deplorable and horrifying consequences. If things are left to proceed in this way, it is clear what the future holds for the world.”

See “The Great Onisaburo Deguchi” by Kyotaro Deguchi, p. 189.

This lofty statement and the launch of the Aizenkai was followed by a flurry of activity both in Asia, the United States, Brazil, Europe, etc. It engaged in many charitable and educational activities in Asia, especially in Manchuria and Mongolia. The Aizenkai and Onisaburo also were intimately involved with the Kwantung Army in this region and served as a buffer to concerns of Japanese expansion and empire building among the local populace. There are many interesting areas of study in this regard that will provide more of a background to Morihei’s evolution both as a martial artist and prominent person active in prewar militaristic Japan.

For those who have come to believe that Morihei’s association with the Omoto religion became distant after the devastating consequenes of the Second Omoto Incident of December 1935, this simple name card speaks volumes. This meishi was used by Morihei toward the end of his life and he is listed as the “President” of one of the Omoto religion’s most active arms.

Historically speaking, the truth is that Morihei continued regular association with the Omoto after the war and, even visited Onisaburo Deguchi in Kameoka shortly before his death in 1948. I personally interviewed Yasuaki Deguchi, a grandson of Onisaburo, in the home where Onisaburo and his wife Sumiko lived at the time. I spent two nights in that house, apparently in the room next to where Onisaburo slept. It was an eerie experience, to be sure!

In any event, for those of you who are interested in such things, please accept a high resolution copy of Morihei’s personal name card, and keep in mind all of the history behind it, and the connection to the Omoto religion which played a pivot role in the creation of aikido.

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  1. There was quite a lot of pre-war exchange between Japan and the world. One small example is that Admiral Kimmel’s* intelligence chief had spent time in Japan, spoke the language, and was of the opinion that Japan would never be so strategically irrational as to attack the United States. There was also a concurring train of thought that if Japan were to attack, the Philippines would be their choice: much closer to home and more easily in range. There’s an article in USNI Proceedings this month.

    * commander of the Pacific Fleet when the Japanese attacked. Court martialed and convicted for dereliction of duty.

  2. Jean Fujikawa says:

    Thank you so much for providing everyone this most wonderful article and the most interesting story behind it. We are all so grateful to you for doing all the research and sharing what you find with Aikido practitioners all around the world. I practice Aikido quite a long time ago and think I met you one time in person at some Aikido demonstration somewhere, perhaps it was in San Jose, Sacramento or Palo Alto, or perhaps it was in Oakland it was just such a long time ago that I can’t remember either. But I have always admired you for being such a great teacher and friend to all. I read things from this website every day and keep finding more and more new and most wonderful interesting articles and information that it is just an incredible experience always. Thank you for providing this and making it available to everyone, especially Aikido practitioners and lovers of this particular martial art and spiritual way of life. I trained briefly in Iwama with Saito Sensei a long time ago and he gave me a brown belt. I am sorry to say that I didn’t write to him while he was still alive to thank him for all the most unbelievable training experience in my entire life. From him and his love for everyone and kindness and gifts that he shared personally to all of his students, I am forever and ever grateful and most thankful. I think about him every day and to see him on all different aikido websites around the world is a great joy, he has travelled and visited all the aikido schools in the entire world and has taught everyone everywhere. Thank you again! Have a wonderful and happy, happy day. Jean Fujikawa, Oakland, CA

    • Jean,

      Thank you very much for the kind words of encouragement. We really appreciate the support of members like yourself. We will bring you much more material on a regular basis. Watch for what goes up this evening! Big surprise!

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