Above is a black and white scan of a sample page from Takuma Hisa’s famous “Soden” collection of technical photos of Aiki Budo and Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu taken from around 1933 through 1939. These photos cover the period of instruction of both Morihei Ueshiba and Sokaku Takeda at the Asahi News dojo in Osaka during this period. First, a bit of background about the “Soden.”
By a stroke of good fortune, Hisa had the foresight and the means through the facilities of Asahi News to make a pictorial record of their aikijujutsu training. After each training session, the Asahi dojo members would systematically photograph the techniques practiced on that day. Yoshiteru Yoshimura, Heizaburo Nakatsu, and Kuniyoshi Kawazoe are the main individuals who appear in the technical sequences photographed. These photos eventually numbered more than 1,500 and were later assembled into scrapbooks with brief explanations by Hisa under the title of Daito-ryu Aikibudo Densho Zen Juikkan. These books cover some 547 techniques and are commonly referred to as the Soden by Hisa and his students.
The techniques taught by Ueshiba in the Asahi News period consisted mainly of suwariwaza, hanmi handachi, and tachiwaza. What Ueshiba was teaching was primarily basic techniques, however, his instruction also included some more advanced techniques of Daito-ryu aikijujutsu as evidenced by the hundreds of photos comprising the first six volumes of the Soden.
Forgive the use of technical terminology, in what follows. The photos can be realigned and their tone curves manipulated in such a way as to improve their quality. The handwritten text is a bit problematic because the amount of fading varies from page to page. Of course, it is possible to darken the text tone curve to make the writing more legible, but this means darkening the background such that the selected area stands out from the rest of the page where the photos appear.
So my questions are the following:
- What would be the best way to make the text clearly legible, preferably it being possible to achieve this without having its background stand out from the rest of the page?
- What advice do you have from the historical/archival standpoint for the preservation and presentation of the “Soden”?
Please feel free to post your advice/comments below. I welcome the support of the aikido community on this project.