Screencast: Focus on History — “Morihei Ueshiba’s Ill-starred Mongolian Expedition,” by Stanley Pranin

“The fact that this photo has survived is nothing less than a miracle!”

Transcript of screencast

Hi, I’m Stanley Pranin, and welcome to another episode of “Focus on History”

Today, we have a fascinating historical photo that many of you will seeing for the first time.

Let me give you some background. This photo was taken in 1924 in Mongolia. The man on the right is a 40-year-old Morihei Ueshiba. Do you recognize him?

The other man is Masazumi Matsumura. Matsumura was, incidentally, one of the scribes who helped to take dictations of Onisaburo Deguchi’s lengthy account of his spiritual experiences that was published under the title of “Reikai Monogatari.” This work consists of 81-volumes and is usually translated into English as “Tales of the Spiritual World.” This massive collection is considered one of the sacred texts of the Omoto religion. Morihei had a complete collection of Reikai Monogatari in his personal library and and is said to have read the entire text.

Now, back to our story of the photo.

Both Morihei and Matsumura were among Onisaburo’s party that secretly traveled to Mongolia with the stated objective of “fulfilling Omoto’s ultimate ideal of spiritually unifying the East Asian continent and then the rest of the world.” It was obviously a very grandiose scheme.

There was very much a political and military aspect to Onisaburo’s Mongolian Expedition and he had close ties with the Japanese Kwantung Army –sometimes referred to as the “Kanto Army” — which had a growing presence on the continent. It was this army group that played a major role in the establishment of the Manchukuo–the Japanese-controled puppet government of Manchuria, that lasted from 1931 to 1945. Puyi –known as the “Last Emperor”– was the titular head of the government…

Duration: 6:17 minutes
Access: free

Click here to view the free screencast of Morihei’s Expedition to Mongolia


  1. Patrick Augé says:

    Here is a link with “Saka no ue no kumo”, a quality Japanese historical drama –presently on NHK International — about the militarization of Japan around the turn of the 20th century as Ueshiba Sensei may have lived it.


    It’s in Japanese and subtitled in English and worth taking the time to view it if you are interested in Japanese culture and history.

    Patrick Augé

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