Tsubaki Kannagara Aikido


Rev. Koichi Barrish giving Aiki Embu on the occasion of Tsubaki O Kami Yashiro 2000 year anniversary, Oct 1997, Mie Prefecture, Japan.

Ai (meeting/ joining) KI (spirit / vibration / essence) Do (Michi/ path/way/ method) is a profound Budo (martial way) that evolved from and reflects a Shinto cosmology. The powerfully flowing spiral movements of Aiki technique are an active meditation, removing the obstrutions that keep practitioners apart from the life giving forces.

The Founder of Aikido, Ueshiba Morihei O’Sensei (whose mitama is enshrined at Gyomando of Tsubaki Grand Shrine in Japan and at Tsubaki Kannagara Jinja) said:

Aiki is the way of the Kami and was born of the will of the Kami.

Rise early in the morning to greet the sun. Inhale the breath of heaven and let the cosmos inside. Next breath up the rich vibrance of the earth. Blend these breaths with your own breath and become the breath of life itself. Your mind and body will be gladdened, heartache and disappointment will dissipate and you will be filled with gratitude.

The movements of Aikido which unite human being with great nature are all given by Sarutahiko-no-O-Kami. Aikido is Misogi..a purification of ourselves…the way of the universe.

At Tsubaki Grand Shrine of America Aikido is practiced regularly in the Haiden (public hall) led by the Senior Priest who has 40 years experience as the the teacher of Aikido. Everyone is welcome…please contact the Jinja for schedule and more information .

Misogi & Aiki

This detail from the painting "Tenson Korin"
is the exclusive property of Tsubaki O Kami Yashiro
and is graciously provided by Rev. Dr. Yukitaka Yamamoto.

Written by the honorable Rev. Dr. Yukitaka Yamamoto

Master Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of Aikido, visited Tsubaki grand shrine in spring of 1958, guided by master Michio Hikitsuchi of Kumano Aikido dojo. As soon as master Ueshiba arrived at the shrine, he told me he would practice the misogi (a waterfall purification) at Konryu-Myojin's waterfall of Tsubaki Grand Shrine, and he practiced misogi with me.

Then he participated in a purification ceremony at Haraiden (the Shrine purification hall), and prayed at Honden (the main sanctuary). After I finished reciting the Norito (prayer) he chanted, "Su-U-Ah-Oh-Uh-Eh-Ih" then took the wooden sword and offered several Aikido moves to OhKami. At that time he said, "these are the basics of Aikido. Moves which unite the being with the great nature, all of them given by Sarutahiko-no-O-Kami." He continued, "Aikido is misogi. Misogi of ourselves. Aikido is the way of misogi itself, the way to become Sarutahiko-no-O-Kami and stand on the Ame- no-Ukihashi (the bridge between heaven and earth). In other words, the skills of misogi are Aiki, the way of uniting heaven and earth, the way of world peace, the way of trying to perfect humanity, the way of the Kami, the way of the universe.

He rested at my house and he told me and my father, "I have been given many teachings by Sarutahiko-no-O-Kami. OKami told me, 'By the work of Takehaya Susanowo no Mikoto, you will worship the Ame no Murakumo KuKamisamuhara Ryu O (Kami of Takemusu) and build an Aiki shrine and dojo.' Then I built the Aiki shrine and dojo in Iwama, Ibaragi prefecture in 1940. Since then I have been searching for the main shrine of Sarutahiko-no-O-Kami. I heard Tsubaki Grand Shrine is the main shrine of Sarutahiko-no-O-Kami, so I visited here today."

After that day master Ueshiba visited the shrine many times a year. When he came to the shrine in 1959, he said he would like to enshrine Sarutahiko-no-O-Kami at the Aiki shrine. In July 1960 I, instead of my father, took the Goshintai of Sarutahiko-no-O-Kami (statue of Sarutahiko-no-O-Kami) to the Aiki shrine in Iwama and performed the enshrinement ceremony. I went there with Mr. Shoji Gomi, who made the Goshintai, Mr. Akihide Isokai, and Mr. Masanori Fukuchi, shrine supporters. I remember that day: Master Ueshiba had great joy. It was a big ceremony with many participants, including master Kisshomaru Ueshiba of the Tokyo dojo.

After that he came to the shrine often. He planted a tree by the waterfall of the shrine. That tree remains there today.

I think master Ueshiba's words, "Aikido is misogi" are true. Human beings are born as children of the Kami and can become Kami. Misogi is the practice of uniting with the great nature and uniting with the universe. Of course humans have flesh and blood, but by practicing misogi we can elevate our spirits. At the same time, Aikido misogi is a way of harmonizing heaven and earth, a way of producing harmony and a way of uniting everything with the Kami. In other words, Aikido and misogi erase the mind that fights and and create a heart of harmony, a way of having a heart of Kami and a way of becoming the Kami of Takemusu.

Later, he had a trip to Hawaii. He went to attend the opening of an Aiki dojo. When he returned from Hawaii, he came to the shrine and reported his trip to Sarutahiko-no-O-Kami. He told me that he finished the misogi of Hawaii and showed me the key he had received as an honorary citizen of Honolulu.

In 1967 Mr. Akihide Isokai came to the shrine. At that time master Ueshiba said, "I can't go by myself already. At last the time has come. I would like to give Sarutahiko-no-O-Kami my address." So he sent mr. Isogai instead of himself.

Now I remember these things. These things remain with me, the faith of master Ueshiba and the Ueshiba who became Kami.

I would like to pray that the spirit of master Ueshiba shines on.

I am very glad that we enshrined him as one of the leaders at this Kototama ceremony.


Triangle, Circle, Square

Three Principles - by Rev. Dr. Yukitaka Yamamoto

Shinto and Human Life

The principle of sanmi-sangen explains the mystery of life. Sanmi-sangen means the three elements that constitute the basis of all forms of existence. these basic symbols guide the destiny of human life. We can see sanmi-sangen operate at many levels, and it is the interaction of theselevels that can product forces that will work for the benefit and well-being of those who follow their lead - people whose behavior and thinking are characterized by the way of the Kami.

At the level of the Kami, Amaterasu-OmiKami, the deity of the Sun who lives in Takama-no-Hara, the Utopia of brightness, is principal aamong the three important parts of the cosmological dimension of existence. The sun is the source of life, of growth and of creativity. Without its heat, power and energy, life could not exist. Thus, the universe is totally dependent upon the primal force of the sun.

Tsukuyomi-no-mikoto, the Kami of the moon, is the guardian of night, the time of silent growth and development, the necessary complement to the day. The moon symbolizes these in its cycle: the new moon, the half moon, the full moon. the moon waxes and wanes as does life in the process of growth. Shinrabansho, or everything in nature, depends on the growth time of the moon, just as everything depends on the light and power of the sun.

Susanoo-no-mikoto, the deity of the stars, was given authority over the vastness of the ocean, unabara. Without water, the earth cannot live. The ebb and flow of the life is under higher governance and that governance is the destiny of man whose place is creation is described in Japanese by the expression banbutsu-no-reicho, the lord of everything under the sun.

These three, the deities of the sun, moon, and stars, are called the san-ko, the three lights and their existence is fundamental for all forms of life in the universe.

When spring comes all the flowers begin to bloom towards summer, insects begin to appear, birds sing and human beings begin to move in response to their Ki, power or energy. Spring is naturally the time of romance when love blossoms, people marry, and the soul of man enters the female spirit and body and new life comes into being. The flow of all things is from the gaseous state to the liquid and then to the solid. Ki generates feeling which turn into solid. Ki generates feelings which turn tot he liquid forms of love and then the solid forms of birth and reproduction. Thus nature flows eternally and is as we know it. In Shinto symbolism, the triangle symbolizes the gaseous, the circle symbolizes the liquid, and the square smbolizes the solid.

This symbolism encompasses all aspects of cosmic and earthly existence, showing how life is built and governed and how its destiny should flow. The Buddhist expression for this is rinne, transmigration of the sould, samsara in Sanskrit.

To have meaning life must have balance between mission and destiny. We must think quite deeply about these. Mission has quite a specific meaning. If two people produce a child, this does not mean the presence of mission. The child who is not the product of mission and destiny is the child who will perhaps end up abandoned, whose conception and birth were not surrounded by the protective structures that the union of life, mission and destiny can produce. If these are present, however, that life can be nurtured properly and grow into the fulfillment of its own destiny. In addition that life, in union with another, will continue its natural flow, projecting life into the future, united in mission and destiny, according to Kannagara. So the generations are born and life ceaselessly flows.

Sangen in Daily Ife

Sangen, the rule of three main factors, works at the level of everyday life and at the level of human destiny. In every shrine, offerings to the Kami on sambo (offering stand), include certain items apart from sake, vegetables and fruits - namely salt, rice and water. the offerings, called shinsen, presents the basis of life.

For Japanese, life has been based on rice and rice requires water for growth. The ancient Japanese knew the power of water to make rice grow. The Shinto terms minaoshi (forward) and kikinaoshi (obedient) contain the secrets of how that power was harnessed.

Water in a bottle can be passive and obedient, but uncontained, water can be a torrent tearing down trees and destroying walls. Water can fertilize and stimulate growth. If people could live like creative water, they would find life less tiring. The flexibility of water is a great lesson.

Allied to the role of water and of equal importance is time and timing. The shrine's nenchu gyoji - schedule of rituals - covers the entire year, and each stage in life. Shinto is very time conscious. What is the most important aspect of human existence? Some might answer, "life," but I would say, "time," because life is very much a sequence of events.

These events follow in order, and that order cannot be changed. Cherry blossoms will not appear in December. No matter how much you may wish to see them, you have to wait until spring. That is their time. Time is perhaps why Japanese are so time conscious. Time you cannot see, but it is time that enables us to understand the processes of nature. This is turn encourages us to feel thankful. Thankfulness is important in Shinto because it expresses our repectful dependence on the powers that determine the flow of our lives.

Discontentment will lead only to frustration. If there is one word or one sentiment that should govern our way of thinking and that expresses the true spirit of Kanngara, it is the Japanese term Kansha - simply giving things to the powers that make people their care and that assist them in reaching the true greatness of spirit they were born to know.

Iku Musubi
Nervous System

Taru Musubi
Circulatory System

Tamatsume Musubi
Digestive System

*This symbol and chart
are the exclusive property
of Tsubaki O Kami Yashiro
and are not to be printed or
reproduced without expressed

Excerpts from a letter written by Rev. Lawrence Koichi Barrish in response to a question about Sankaku Maru Shikaku.

May I share this information from Ise-noKuni Ichi-no-Miya, Sarutahiko Daihongu Tsubaki O Kami Yashiro?

In his book Kami no Michi, Rev. Dr. Yukitaka Yamamoto, the 96th generation High Priest (Guji) wrote:

"The Principle of 'Sanmi-Sangen' explains the mystery of life. Sanmi-Sangen means the three elements that constitute the basis of all forms of existence. These basic symbols both explain the meaning of and guide the destiny of human life. We can see Sanmi-Sangen operate at many levels."

In Shinto cosmology, the    relates to "Gogyo Gogen." Following the blueprints created by the Amatsu (heavenly) Kami, the Kunitsu (earthly) Kami made the "Ki" of trees, fire, soil, gold and water. Gas  turns to be a liquid  and a solid , while a solid  turns to a liquid  and gas . This transformation (Kami Musubi - a Fire & Water Knot [Musubi = Tie where existence and non-existence are unified]), is holographically mirrored in the aiki waza of Ueshiba O'Sensei.

Archetypically, aiki progresses as follows:

  • triangle -
    Sankaku-no-irimi: Sankakutai - the hanmi prior to deai (initial physical contact) . Establishment of angle and radius of entry (triangle) is power of harmonization.
  • circle -
    En-no-irimi: The spiralic movements (omote and ura) of aiki technique
  • square -
    Chokusen-no-irimi: The explosive power (shunpatsu rokyu) of a kokyu nage like extension and the expanding echo (zanshin) or osae waza (pinning technique)

In the doctrine of O'Harahi (Great Purification) as explained by Yamamoto Guji the  means mission. Mission means a share of the work that helps realize the ideal of O'Kami. The  is Life. Life stands between mission and the flow of fate. This is vertical and horizontal musubi. The  is fate. Fate is the result of all things based on the actions of the past - the flow of fate is horizontal musubi.

In his book The Kototama Commentary Concerning the O Harahi published (in Japanese) by Tsubaki O Kami Yashiro, Yamamoto Guji further explains, "Those who are aware of mission (future) and boil their blood to do their best in their lives (present) are able to alter the currents ([and purify] the past) of fate."

This is the mission established by the vertical tie and unmediated connection to the breath and heartbeat of Kami.