Category Archives: Articles

TAKA-AMA-HARA…from the Kujiki…

The very manner in which you, yourself, protect and  preserve  TAKA-AMA-HARA  is a place where you can find the Way. Your own body originates in the workings of Heaven and Earth – – – from the Heavenly sphere: your head; in the direction of the Earth: your feet; from the Nine Emperor Gods of the Big Dipper (seven visible and two invisible): your hara and your guts; from the North Pole itself: your seven bodies (shichi-dai)… in one year there are twelve branches: the South Pole is in your left hand and forearm’s bones; and the Seven Stars of the Northern Dipper are in your right hand and forearm’s bones…. the broad expanse of your back are the Heavenly hidden mountains…
– – – from the Kujiki,  Chapter Eight

AN AME-NO-UZUME-NO-MIKOTO-ZOU for Tsubaki Grand Shrine of America

[UPDATE:] …the AME-NO-UZUME-ZOU is cast and remains a laborious and painstaking process of polishing…CASThokothreejewels2CROPCASTassemblingwLHspearCROP

UZUME_April4_drum_72dpi800pxHCROP

[UPDATE:]  Application of the mold rubber to the drum is complete…
…and in the background, Barry-san prepares a lego container for the first layer of mold rubber to be poured onto AME-NO-UZUME-ZOU’s spear…
UZUME_April5_Spear_1stsidemoldrubber_72dpi800pxHCROPUZUME_April4_Spear_clayeduo_72dpi800pxHCROP

 

UZUME_April6_drum_mothermoldbegin_72dpi800pxWCROP

..outside the silicone, Barry-san applies burlap soaked in plaster-of-paris as the first layer of the drum’s mother mold…
UZUME_April7_removMoldFromDrum_72dpi800pxWCROP...as Barry-san removes first the mother-mold and then the silicone rubber from the original sculpture of the drum, it becomes obvious why a supporting mother mold is so critical to the process!

*

[UPDATE:]  AME-NO-UZUME-ZOU’sarms are being molded separately… so many layers of multi-colored silicone are applied…

AMEZOUarmsCROP
Back to the main part of the ZOU:  all the layers of mold material have been built up. Next is a hard shell: sometime referred to as the mother mold. This  will be comprised of several separate sections. Parting lines of water-based ceramic clay define the sections (the wet clay is covered overnight with plastic to keep it from drying out).

AMEZOUready4mothermoldCROP

 

Barry begins to apply the “Plasti-paste II” which will form the hard mother mold. The paste is a two-component, fiber-filled resin:  when the two parts are mixed the paste is workable for JUST 10 MINUTES before it begins to set. Barry-san must mix and apply multiple small batches of Plasti-paste. AMEZOUstartingmothermoldCROP

[UPDATE:]  Kimbal Sensei builds a base for AME-NO-UZUME-ZOU, using an actual wooden tub as a basis for the clay sculpture of a taiko drum… AME-NO-UZUME-NO-MIKOTO danced on an upturned tub, to tempt the Sun Goddess out of the cave… thereby inventing both Kagura sacred dance and taiko-drumming…

MAKINGPEDESTALthebasictubCROP

MAKINGPEDESTALlogdrumCROP
MAKINGPEDESTALfinisheddrumCCROP

*

[UPDATE:] Meanwhile AME-NO-UZUME-ZOU is now in the molding room – at Laf’n Bear Sculpture Studio, pictured here with Dojo member, Barry Moore, of BearCast Molding and Casting:

AME-NO-UZUME-ZOU_March22_2016_MoldingDay1_1_CROPsmall

 

Barry-san begins to apply the first “imprint” coat of silicone molding material  carefully drizzled on with a brush, then moved into fine detail areas with compressed air.  

24 hours later, the silicone has set to a rubbery firmness, and more layers of silicone are added,  to build up thickness.  

AME-NO-UZUME-ZOU_Day2_1_ADDPURPLECROPsmall
Barry-san tints each coat to help keep track of the layers.  On day 2, AME-NO-UXUME-ZOU is robed in purple…

First thing in the morning on day 3, another layer, this time pink.  Each successive layer is somewhat more viscous and thicker than the previous layer.

Purple again… and by early afternoon on day 3, Barry-san is adding tabs of cured silicone to the seamlines to reinforce those areas.  Held in place by T-pins, the overall effect is one of an odd variation of acupuncture.  The tabs are “glued” into place with yet another layer of silicone mold material…

AME-NO-UZUME-ZOU_Day3_3_CUREDSILICONECROP

*

– – – by Kimbal Anderson Sensei

For some weeks, now, I’ve been working at constructing a statue for Tsubaki Jinja in America.  While we tend to think of Shinto as being very much based in natural phenomena – we think of the beautiful torii gate in the middle of a  forest… or the sacred stones surrounded by shimenawa…there is, in fact, quite a bit of lineage concerning the making of sacred images. For instance, if you go to a shrine and you’re going to make a branch shrine – a secondary shrine – they will give you a go-shintai:  a go-shintai is something that has been blessed by the parent shrine, and it’s like a little holographic chunk of what the parent shrine has… and often it’s a little statue.
shindenwAMENOUZUMEZOU5CROP

SarutahikoZou2CROPNow, at Tsubaki America Jinja, there is already a
SARUTAHIKO-NO-O-KAMI
statue, which I was able to construct, and which  has been there for many years, and it has found its way into rooting itself into the landscape properly.

I had made a statue of
AME-NO-UZUME-NO-MIKOTO
before, and wanted to give one to the shrine, as a gift from our school.  I feel that it’s really important to consider female  energy – she represents, of course, sacred movement, for us in aikido – but also the balancing aspect of having both kinds of energy in a place:  the sacred marriage of the energies.

AMENOUZUMENOMIKOTOzou2016inSHINDEN2CROPThe first time around, I built her just as a pure figure, with the properties which are folk-loric, but without the well-known story. But this time, we’re including the story, and that’s why she’s decorated the way she is, with a bamboo frond in one hand, and a head-dress  of sakaki and a belt of woven club-moss. Now each one of these has some meaning… and I also put tama in her head-dress, and suchlike…

I also looked at some ancient, ancient stuff: the shamanesses and oracles in old Korea –  women who danced – and women who are reflected in the first miko  that ruled Japan… I think that pretty much
AME-NO-UZUME-NO-MIKOTO
is a metaphor for them, and these dances… they are basically spiral dances.

AMENOUZUMENOMIKOTOzou2016CCROPAnd I wanted to make her spear a particular way,  so that while it’s not the Spirit that Creates the Earth in particular, yet there’s a reason she has it. So I like the idea of it being the jeweled spear of creation – and it’s also a  male principle that she’s holding, there.

I really like the old Jomon pottery.  There are so many similarities to the world of Shinto shrines as they are today: the Oyu stone circles on the top of a hill…  with a Te-Mizu-ya – a place for washing hands and mouth clean – just down the hill, before you oyuyangCROPget to the top…  and pottery discovered there, decorated with the image of people seated,  meditating, with halos…  from this time, the decoration always has a  very clear yang, or a very clear yin feel to it: and there are a lot of spiral  designs.

So I  reflected these spiral designs on her garments, as an allusion to the ancient knowledge.

AMENOUZUMENOJOMON2016CROPAnd I’m going to construct the tub that she  dances on in the story. And I’m going to use the old version: people often think it should  be something like an old whiskey barrel, but my own feeling is that  it’s much more like  the thing I make my sushi-rice in. More like  a straight-sided cylinder.

And I’d like to make it so that when the wind  blew, she danced  – I could balance her so she could rotate.

My inspiration is to support Tsubaki  America. I’ve been involved for 30  years, trying to help Guji-san make daigi7CROPthat shrine-world possible for Americans to experience. He’s done such an amazing job with the energy, there:  it truly is one of the most extraordinarily potent places on  the planet.

I think the
AME-NO-UZUME-ZOU
will be really be nice because  it’ll help balance everything.  Guji-san has a wonderful spot in mind, where she and her  husband will be able to see each other, so they can be conjoined in that spot. And people will be able to come and experience it.

haniwaI’d also like to make some of those figures, those really ancient Haniwa,  guardians… to give the shrine a connection to the very, very ancient stuff. If you look at these  ancient things, you know, they’ve carried  over… it’s the deep soil of it.

And I hope to have the
AME-NO-UZUME-ZOU
reproduced, reduced in size, for people  who would like to have one… about the size of a Goshintai, so if you have a shrine at home you could have it…

Ideally we’d cast it in meteorite-iron….  we’ll see!UZUME_April6_drum_mothermoldbegin_72dpi800pxWCROP

Peter has a show playing with his sound design…

Margin of Error (or, the Unassailable Wisdom of the Mouse and the Scorpion), at Boise Contemporary Theater, April 13 – May 7…

A change of optic:

Aikido is a gem of many facets – sometimes it seems that every one of O’Sensei’s students remembered a different teacher, and of course, many, many different styles have been preserved and developed – but here is one facet that clicked into focus for me recently:

what if O’Sensei spent his time away from Iwama and Tokyo coherently pursuing what he felt to be his “mission in life”?…

what if he spent his time away from Iwama and Tokyo creating and nurturing a network of dojos run by Omoto-Kyo, ex-Omoto-Kyo and Ko-Shinto believers ( hand-picked deshi,  some of them raised, almost, as members of his family) – – – and ex-Kamikaze pilots, too (!) – often with his own name on the sign –  in places – and close to shrines…

read more:

…late in 1942…

“….On August 7, after consultations with the appropriate judges, [Judge Takano] released [Onasiburo, Sumiko and Isao] on bail, and they appeared in the outside world for the first time in six years and eight months….

“My cousin Yasuaki Deguchi…writes in ‘Founder of a New Religion’….’To the followers who came to see him, he would say with emphasis, “There will be no divine help in this war,” “This war is a war between devils, so do not get involved”….’

“….even now he did not hold back from his outspoken remarks. ‘On the day I left prison, Japan’s defeat in the war began,’ he said.

“On August 7, 1942, the day Onisaburo was released, American forces landed on Guadalcanal, and the first naval battle of the Solomon Islands began….

“He would say, ‘They did all this to Omoto and don’t even come to apologize. So Japan will be attacked by the foreign enemy and will be beaten.’….’God dislikes killing. Omoto will not cooperate in the war.’

“….Telling soldiers leaving for service overseas, ‘Fire your guns into the air,’ he would give them advice according to their respective destinations….To troops leaving for the front, Onisaburo issued special amulets on which were written the words, ‘Victory to the Enemy’….

– – – – from The Great Onisaburo Deguchi,  Kyotaro Deguchi,  tr. Charles Rowe, publ. Aiki News, pp. 285-9

…1942-1948 – Ubuya…

“It may be that, at the time, we [this young people’s class in Iwama] were the only existing Aikido class in Japan – perhaps even in the world.”
– – – Kazuaki Tanahashi,   Aikiweb interview

“In 1946 when I was admitted into Aikido, the site of the Iwama Dojo with an area of more than 20,000 tsubo was just a forest of Japanese oak trees, dotted with the Aiki Shrine,  Dojo,  and a farm. The location of the Dojo almost eluded detection. The local neighbors had not the foggiest idea of what was going on inside the Dojo and would not dare approach it.”
– – – Morihiro Saito Shihan,  Traditional Aikido,  vol.5,  p.20

“For seven years, Ueshiba O’Sensei hid away in the mountains, and said not a word: he was silent. But by his silence he was teaching, making something very great, by saying nothing.”
– – – André Nocquet Shihan, Maître Morihei Ueshiba: présence et message  p.97

 

…the Buddha of Infinite Space and Wisdom…

SNOWbuddhaofinfinitespace2CROP

…close to the source: Ame-no-Torifune…

Shrine Shinto instructions for Ame-no-Torifune…

….from Kami No Michi The Way of the Kami, by Yukitaka Yamamoto Guji pp.117-121, and Shinto Norito a Book of Prayers,  by Ann Llewellyn Evans pp.128-132.

O’Sensei’s relationship with Tsubaki O-Kami Yashiro in Mie Prefecture is well documented, and there are some beautiful reminiscences recounted in Susan Perry’s  Remembering O-Sensei.

Seiseki Abe Shihan lineage instructions for Ame-no-Torifune…

…from Shaun Ravens Sensei,  courtesy of a post by jgrowney on Aiki-web.

It seems overwhelmingly likely that O’Sensei experimented in various dojo and over the course of his life-time, with the sequence of kotodama, and with the kami  invoked during furitama. One might guess, too, that he finessed these aspects of Ame-no-Torifune to suit particular students and lineages.

It also seems worth mentioning that the kotodama should be thought of as pairs of syllables, with the first of each pair co-inciding with the inward pull of ki-energy and of the arms. Do not let the mind migrate to thinking of the syllables as starting with the outward movement.

Gozo Shioda Shihan’s Basics for World Peace…

It’s possible to wonder how an art that requires years and years of dedicated practice could possibly be a significant factor in working for peace in the world.

But Gozo Shioda Shihan makes a wonderful point: all that’s necessary is for folks to acquire the BASICS…

‘It is my belief that if everyone were to absorb the basics of Aikido, or in other words, “when confronted with an opponent, [harmonize] with him” and made this principle the basis of their lives, all conflict and strife would disappear.” – In the Aiki News translation and serialization of An Aikido Life (issue 74, p. 46)

…and he’s quite specific: the “basics” he’s referring to are (verbatim):

  •   a pure heart
  •   calmness in movement
  •   “when facing an enemy, unite with him”
  •   balances in the body

…thus 5 or 6 years training (including ki-flow and internal organization) AND a meditation practice…

…it’s a lot, but actually do-able – – – especially if included in a school curriculum…

…the notion of a ‘Way’…

It is easy for us, today, to miss the meaning of a “Way”. As a concept, a “Way”, a “Road”, a “Path” dates back to a time when travelling by land was by far the more difficult option. For most of human history, travelling by water – on a broad river or hugging the coast – was easier, and travelling overland was both arduous and dangerous. It was something one might do to access a sacred site, or some unusual fruit or root, or to acquire some particular knowledge. Traveling in this way changes you, and only by experiencing it can you know why it is also “Tao” – the origin and ground of being…