By Lisa Jensen
Special to The PREVIEW
Tai Sai is a festival celebrated at the Aiki Jinja in Iwama, the shrine to aikido that Aikido founder Morihei Ueshiba built in 1942. Tai Sai is a memorial service and honor to Ueshiba, who passed away on April 26, 1969, and also to the second leader of aikido, his son, Kisshomaru Ueshiba, who passed away Jan. 4, 1999.
Last year, 1,400 people participated in the event in Iwama, Japan. Following Shinto rituals, the ceremony included a Shinto purification rite, festival chant and offering of a branch of the sacred tree. Current doshu, or leader of aikido worldwide, Moriteru Ueshiba greeted everyone and said that aikido is now practiced in 130 countries around the world.
After doshu’s greeting, Mitsuteru Ueshiba, who is next in line to head aikido worldwide, gave a dedication demonstration.
Locally, Aikido of the San Juans celebrated Tai Sai with a gathering of students and family that included sharing some of the founder’s words and a demonstration by the children’s class.
Morihei Ueshiba established the shrine during World War II and sought to bring an end to war and fighting.
He said: “In Ueshiba’s Aikido there are no enemies. It is a mistake to consider anyone to be an opponent or enemy, to want to be stronger than anyone else, or to try to defeat anybody. In true budo, there are no opponents or enemies. True budo is always in tune with the universe; true budo always returns to the centre of the cosmos. Training in aikido is not to make one physically powerful, or to make one skillful in combat; it is for the purpose of bringing all the people of the world together in peace, to make things better little by little, to stay centered and in tune with the universe. Aikido is a compass that points us in the right direction so each one of us can fulfill our mission in life. Aikido is the way of harmony. Aikido is the path of love.”