NINJUTSU HIKETU-BUN 忍術秘訣文

The original translation is very deep and spiritual and may be tough for the general public to understand. I therefore provide a modern approach translation while still maintaining the essence so everyone can enjoy regardless of experience.

Through martial arts strategy the skills of self protection can be used to protect oneself ( Body/mind). However the highest level of defence can be reached through Ninjutsu ( spirit). It is important to establish good ethical background. If do not maintain the correct attitude (spirit) in the martial way you are likely to cause yourself or others injury or death. If we use medicine as an analogy it’s primary function is to aid in healing however if one develop dependencies beyond the prescribed use, it can lead to imbalance causing harm. The same with food… We need food to sustain life. However excessive use through overeating or eating unhealthy will destroy our body. Politicians have the responsibility to serve and protect their citizens. However if a politician is consumed with too much desire and greed or lack of wisdom it will cause imbalance within its constituents and country. The same is true for religion; if a religion is true and sincere, then it can aid people to achieve balanced living and help society prosper. If a master of the martial arts is to truly study Ninjutsu he must learn the  secret of Kanjin Kaname and develop the foresight of Shinshin Shingan. Through attaining this wisdom and character one can walk in the path righteousness. For man this is called having faith and follow natural laws. 

The use of the five elements of Moku / Ka / Do / Kin / Sui (Wood / Fire / Earth / Metal / Water) gives insight to the dependencies of existence. With nature the seasons come into existence. If any of the seasons contain imbalance then nature will need to find a way to correct itself. When human beings follow a righteous, sincere and correct life then they can be in harmony with nature and the divine. Understanding these Universal Laws one can live with harmony with all living beings.This is having the wisdom of foresight to see things for what they really are.

It is a prerequisite for a Ninja to be righteous and have this understanding. To be able to study Ninjutsu one must be able have this wisdom of foresight and tell the difference between right or wrong. It is said that Ninjutsu  originated through Cho Busho and Cho Gyokko. Though these founders many theories came about. It is said they brought with them and transmitted the knowledge of Karate Hicho Jutsu, Koppo Jutsu, Senban Nage Jutsu and other skills. These later formed the foundation of Ninjutsu.

Those who followed their teachings were able to attain this wisdom and foresight through rigorous training and meditation. There is a a reference to a place where famous masters obtained enlightenment. This place still exist to this day. In the past this place was called Tojin Iwa.

One of the many skills they developed was to use their willpower to subdue their opponent. This development took place in the Iga area and through warriors from Fujiwara, Minamoto, and Taira Clans who sought refuge in the mountains of Iga the art naturally evolved to what its known today,  The formation of Happo Biken Jutsu was transmitted through generations.  It is said that martial art which uses the number 9 and has 9 methods or ways makes for absolute victory.


Bujinkan Dojo Guidelines

First of all, only those persons who consent to this Bujinkan Dojo agreement and are resolved to adhere to it will be allowed to join. Persons who think they cannot adhere to it will not be allowed to join. Accordingly,

  1. Only persons who have carefully read this Bujinkan Dojo agreement and agree to it will be allowed to join.
  2. Only persons who are able to show the determined consistency of true persevering self-control as martial artists will be allowed to join.
  3. A physician’s medical report is required. In particular, persons who are mentally
    unhealthy, persons addicted to drugs, and those who are mentally abnormal will not be allowed to join. The “requirement of a physician’s medical report” includes, for example, persons having illnesses which risk the prevention of the pursuit of martial arts, and the kind of abnormal personalities, abnormal physical constitutions, etc. which the person cannot personally control.
  4. Persons having a past criminal record will not be admitted. Additionally, persons who behave in a delinquent fashion, persons who commit crimes, and persons who cannot keep the law in Japan will also not be permitted to join.
  5. Persons who do not keep the rules of the Bujinkan, who, as both students and members of society, commit shameful acts will be expelled. For example, there are many persons who, in the past, came to Japan and knocked at the gate of the Bujinkan, but were drunken brawlers, mentally abnormal, those who by their delinquent behavior put their own thoughts first and did not think about the trouble they were causing for others, those who pursued evil desires and committed acts contrary to the traditionally righteous attitude of the Bujinkan. All such people will be subject to expulsion.
  6. With regard to any accidents incurred during training, either in the dojo or another location, only persons who can avoid causing trouble for the Bujinkan will be allowed to join. This is an important matter. Accidents are inseparable from the pursuit of martial arts, and persons who cannot resolve these matters themselves will absolutely not be admitted. To clarify a second time, the Bujinkan Dojo will assume absolutely no responsibility for accidents arising during the course of training, no matter what the location.
  7. Persons who have joined the Bujinkan must be sure to have the membership card which is issued every year. This is to preserve the honor of Bujinkan members and, as nobility with the peace of the martial heart, to show that warriors of friendship protect the great way of the Bujinkan Dojo by the gathering of comrades who have the heart of the martial artist. The power of warrior virtue, the proven reason for the loyalty, filial piety and love of friends in the martial arts.
  8. The tradition of the Bujinkan is something which shows the universality of nature and the life of the human race, and is that pursuit of martial arts which enlightens the natural mysteries that exist in them.
    “Know that the secret of taijutsu is the foundation of peace If you study this, you can walk the path of the immovable heart (fudoshin).”   Dojo Instruction:
    1. Know that perseverance is, first of all, for but a brief period of time.
    2. Know that the path of man is justice.
    3. Forget the heart of greed, comfort, and discrimination (reliance).
    4. Consider sorrow and bitterness to be natural laws, and simply take advantage of the enlightenment of the immovable heart.
    5. With a steady heart, do not stray from the path of loyalty and filial piety, aspire deeply to the ways of both literary and martial arts.
    The rule of the Dojo is to keep the above 5 laws. Meid?i 23 (1890) First Day of Spring, Toda Shinryuken Masamitsu
    Showa 33 (1958) A Lucky Day in March, Takamatsu Toshitsugu Uou
    Hatsumi Masaaki Byakuryuu
  9. After joining, beginning with Taijutsu,
    • Kyu grades: Beginner
    • 1st dan through 5th dan: Heaven
    • 6th dan through 10th dan: Earth
    • 11th dan through 15th dan: Man
    • Ranks from 11th dan through 15th dan of the “Man” level will be divided into 5 levels: Earth, Water, Fire, Wind, and Void, and will be the highest ranks in Bujinkan Dojo Happo Biken.
    • The 5th dan examination is of a spiritual nature and is something which is done by Soke. A 15th dan will be considered to be a true shihan.

Currently, the Bujinkan Dojo has become worldwide in nature. Just as the Earth has time zones, taboos also exist according to each country and race. Buyu should hold each other in respect, working together as Buyu who do not commit taboos, putting the heart of the martial artist first, placing importance on the pursuit of the martial arts, and strive to become a virtuous person. The person who cannot hold to the above will be expelled.

Bujinkan Dojo
Soke Masaaki Hatsumi
(Martial Name: Hisamune)

Togakure Ryu Ninpo Happo Biken 34th Head
Gyokko Ryu Kosshijutsu Happo Biken 28th Head
Koto Ryu Koppojutsu Happo Biken 18th Head
Shindenfudo Ryu Dakentaijutsu Happo Biken 26th Head
Kukishin Ryu Taijutsu Happo Biken 28th Head
Takagiyoshin Ryu Jutaijutsu Happo Biken 17th Head
Kumogakure Ryu Ninpo Happo Biken 14th Head
Gyokushin Ryu Ninpo Happo Biken 21st Head
Gikan Ryu Koppo Happo Biken 15th Head

The Spirit of Yamato in the world of modern Budo

The Spirit of Yamato in the world of modern Budo
Japanese paper (washi 和紙) is one of the several symbols of Japanese culture and spirit. It is made using fibers from the bark of the gampi tree, the mitsumata shrub (Edgeworthia papyrifera), or the paper mulberry. Washi comes from wa which refers to Japanese and shi meaning paper. The process is very precise and requires skills and knowledge held by a handful of families throughout Japan. However, due to the “modernization” of society and technology, the lengthy process, and declining interest/appreciation by younger generation is slowly causing the tradition to erode. It was during a discussion about this subject with my Shodo (calligraphy) teacher that I was reminded once again about the importance of Yamato Damashi and subsequently sparked the interest to write this article. Sensei mentioned that although Japanese paper can be made by a more “cost efficient ways” and may look like Japanese paper it cannot be called one. The reason for this is that the traditional way of producing paper is done with the “correct spirit”. This “spirit” cannot be achieved with technology but rather through passing knowledge from teacher to student by word of mouth. This “spirit/attitude” is connected to any action in ones daily life and is especially prevalent in the world of Budo.
Yamato-damashii 大和魂 (“the Japanese spirit”) is a historical and cultural, developed in the Heian period which set the premises of describing Japanese spirit and attitude achieved by following the ‘way’ of the people. This term is often contrasted with the knowledge and scholarship imported into Japan from China. It can be also understood as ‘The Soul of Old Japan’. ‘For this national type of moral character was invented the name Yamato-damashi
Yamato-damashii refers to “Japan or Japanese”. The characters for Yamato (大和) translates as great harmony. Wa (倭 or 和) is Japan’s oldest endonym and derives from the Han Dynasty Chinese exonym Wō 倭 “Japan, Japanese”. This character 倭, which graphically combines the 亻 “human, person” radical and a wěi 委 “bend” Japanese scribes replaced the Chinese character 倭 for Wa “Japan” with Wa 和 “harmony; peace”.
Soke has also mentioned “Tamashii”. Most commonly translated as “soul”, we may also acknowledge that in order to understand the duty of fudoumyo, we must accept fully the teachings to understand the soul of bushido
Developing the soul of budo is the aim of the true budoka. This is far more important to me than continually learning new skill sets. While training, we will inevitably learn new waza. However, if there is no soul or heart to the movement, there is ultimately nothing, only an empty shell. This is part of the reason we recite the Ninja Seishin and a special verse every class.
Damashi or Tamashi is closely related to the theme of the year, Sai no Kon Ki. In this theme Utsuwa also can imply a person of high calibre or capacity. A person may have Saino & Tamashii, 魂but must have the caliber to understand, unify, and use these together in harmony to their full potential.
This type of ‘spirit’ is of extreme importance in the world Budo and Ninpo. In essence if you do this type of Budo without this type of attitude you may not be doing Japanese Budo but rather your own interpretation of it. It’s not something that can be seen necessarily or even understood. It is more like being able to absorb it with the whole body over time. To further explain what it is that is being referred to let’s look at air. It cannot be seen, touched or felt yet everyone knows it exists and we need it to sustain life. Another analogy would be that one cannot cook any kind of ethnic food without being able to fully absorb the process, flavour, taste and customs associated. There is a story about an individual moved to Japan to study Japanese paper making and was asked about the subject after training for several years. His reply was that although I have been learning how to make paper for quite some time I have yet to achieve the required spirit associated with it and as such cannot call the paper I am making Japanese. it would probably require additional time to acquire this essence. In Ninpo, when you perform a waza without this type of spirit it in essence loses its flavour and authenticity. Many of the modern Budo and sport martial arts may seem attractive to many but are truly deviating from the source.
This is not an easy concept to understand especially for a person who was not born and educated with this type of mentality. It also easy to ignore this type of attitude as it requires in some cases an adjustment to ones perspective and conduct. The truth is not always easy to accept but as practitioners of Ninpo we strive to polish our spirit through training and follow the righteous heart. I encourage you to dig deep and discover the true essence and spirit of our Budo.

Cha Do – the art of tea.

Yesterday after class we reviewed the making of traditional Japanese Macha Tea. The history of matcha in Japan is said to commence in the 12th Century, when Zen monk Eisai [栄西] (1141-1215) brought tea seeds he had gathered on a study trip to China. In the 8-9th Century however, Buddhist Monks Saichō [最澄] (767-822) and Kūkai [空海] (774-835) had already brought tea seeds from China. But at that time tea was processed into compressed cubical bricks or cakes, and it was not until the following century that a powdered kind of tea, resembling what we nowadays perceive as matcha, became the standard.

How To Prepare

First things first, put the kettle on and grab yourself a mug or if you want more authenticity, try using a chawan, a traditional Japanese tea cup.

Once the kettle has boiled, wait for a minute or two so that the temperature of the water is approximately 80°C. If the water is too hot, your tea may become too bitter.

Add a small teaspoon of matcha powder to your cup and then fill with approximately 60ml of hot water.

Using a chasen, or matcha whisk, mix the powder in with the water so that no lumps remain in the tea. Mix for a minute until the tea has lots of small bubbles on the surface and appears slightly frothy.
Your tea is now ready so sit down, relax and enjoy your green tea, perhaps with a small Japanese sweet on the side.

Tips and Information

– If you live in an area with hard water, try using a water filter to purify the water before you boil it. This will give you a cleaner tasting tea.

– Try adjusting the amount of water and matcha used until you find the right taste for you.

– Traditional matcha green tea is much bitter than the regular green tea so you might need something sweet to balance the taste.

About Japanese Martial Arts Attire

What do many English speaking martial artists call their uniform? Chances are if they train in a style of martial arts that originates from Japan they’ll often call it a “Gi,” however there is a problem with this. It is grammatically incorrect, and a misuse of this Japanese “word.” For you see, “Gi” isn’t actually a word at all, it is a suffix. How do we represent a suffix as a stand-alone term? This is something most English speakers were taught very early on in their education; we can

So how did this suffix -gi come to be misconstrued as a stand alone word? Ignorance and/ or laziness. Many people are told that -gi is the word for “clothes,” however it isn’t quite that simple. See the word for clothes that uses the same kanji is actually Kimono. We can see this quite clearly when looking at the kanji. The kanji for -gi is 着while the kanji for Kimono is 着物. But wait, why is it pronounced differently: -gi vs ki?

In Japanese there is a natural speech pattern called Rendaku (連濁). This is where often times a sound presented in the middle of a word will often be softened. In English we call this Sequential Voicing or simply Voicing. Sounds such as T, S, K, and H all have a softened version used later in words: T becomes D, S becomes Z, K becomes G, and H becomes B or P. Those who have studied Hiragana and/or Katakana have already seen this:

たーだ

さーざ

かーが

はーば、ぱ

Or in this case きbecomes ぎ.

Okay… so if it is -gi as a suffix should we call it a ki instead? No, that would also be grammatically incorrect. See 着just isn’t meant to stand alone. The closest you’ll get is actually the verb “Kiru,” to dress, which is written 着る.

So what should we call our martial arts uniform? There is actually a whole laundry list of things to choose from. Most commonly used are the generic terms: Dōgi (道着)and Keikogi (稽古着). Dōgi being “clothes of the way,” while Keikogi (my preferred term) is simply “practice clothes” or “training clothes.” Next we have Budo-gi and the style specific -gi, such as Karate-gi, Judo-gi, Kendo-gi, etc. There are also acceptable terms that don’t even use the suffix -gi, such as Seifuku (制服) which simply means “uniform.” (Be careful looking up the term “seifuku” because one of its homonyms is the Japanese term for BDSM, which uses the kanji 征服.)

Last two things I want to touch on is mixing languages and pluralization. Is it okay to slap a Japanese suffix onto an English or Korean word? Not really. So things like “martial arts-gi” and “taekwondo-gi” would be frowned upon. Do people still use them? Yes. Should they? No. Also how would you pluralize the correct terms such as: Dōgi, Keikogi, Karate-gi, Judo-gi, etc? Simple, leave them alone. Just like the plural of Moose is still Moose, the plural and singular forms of all these words remain unchanged.

Ninpo and Ninjutsu

NINPO & NINJUTSU

Ninjutsu 忍術 is a collective term for various strategies developed by very sophisticated individuals during various stages of Japan early history. Ninpo 忍法often referred to as the higher order of Ninjutsu. It sets the foundation for purpose in life based of natural laws (法) . The core philosophy is rooted in the principles of Nin (忍).

Nin translates into patience or perseverance (忍耐). The Japanese character for Nin (忍) consists of two parts. The upper part is called yaiba (刃) which refers to the cutting edge of a blade. The lower part can be translated into heart (心). In essence how to persevere during the ups and downs of life.

The character Ho or Po (法), can be interpreted as natures law, referring to the art as Ninpo rather than Ninjutsu. The emphasis in training is to strive toward a balanced development of body (體) mind (心) and spirit (魂). It isn’t enough just to know techniques (術). Having high moral standards being rooted in refined character and spirit are a way to create a balanced scale to highly acquired technical skills. This refinement of one’s spirit is known in Japanese as seishinteki kyoyo (精神的教養).

The Natural Flow

Shu Ha Ri 守破離 Is a concept that describes the natural stages of growth.

Shu (守) “to abide, to follow” – Refers to the early stages of development and requires a student to make a sincere effort to copy the master without deviation. The reason for that is that at the early stages a student does not have sufficient experience and emotional intelligence to understand the flow being taught. Therefore any attempt to comprehend what is being taught using ones own logic will no longer align what the Master is teaching (the illusion of self and breaking the flow).

Ha (破) “to come to light, to realize” – At this stage the student has accumulated sufficient fundamental knowledge to understand the essence is able to express the flow accurately. For that reason the student is now allowed to ask questions to further develop emotional intelligence. It is a also a stage where a student realizes the need to detach from the illusions of self.

Ri (離) ” to Transcend“- by this stage a student has matured into self mastery and is now able to articulate the flow independently. Its the time to open the door to creativity and express ones skills and emotional intelligence in ones own unique way. The concept “to transcend” denotes a level of self expression without forgetting the flow. Once reading this stage one realizes that the cycle of Shuhari repeats itself within oneself infinitely.

Seeing Through the Mist

On One auspicious evening the master invited one of his brightest students to join him for his regular walk with his dog.  The Masters pet dog loved his evening walk. The dog would run ahead to fetch a stick, then run back, wag his tail, and wait for the next turn.  You must understand, said the Master, that words are only guideposts. Never let words or symbols get in the way of truth.  With that said the teacher called his happy dog. Fetch me the moon, and pointed to the full moon. Where is my dog looking? asked the teacher of the bright pupil. He’s looking at your finger replied the disciple. Exactly, don’t confuse the pointing finger with the thing that is being pointed at. Words are only guideposts. Every human being fights his way through others words to find his own truth.

In Ninpo we work to transform the body, mind and spirit. Increasing consciousness and cutting through illusion of duality. Mastering self, mind, body, and skill is done through studying the Art of Effortless Power. Recognizing protecting self, family community and country without raising a sword is if the highest achievement.

Mastery of self leads to enlightenment allowing the highest level of compassion for humanity. Appreciation and preservation of all living things. The lessons and pains learned on the mat mirrors the up and downs of life. Developing an unwavering spirit with the notion of getting up with every fall and never giving up. This require the forging of martial virtues: humility, honesty, courage, faith, wisdom, obedience, kindness, dedication, compassion and trust.

The Ninja use the laws of nature by leveraging the strategy of In/Yo Gogyo, eight directions with the notion of Hisho Hen. The heart must strike a balance in being be as sharp as a raiser-blade and as pure and soft of a flower.

Appreciate all that life has to offer and enjoy every moment as if it was your last.

The Spirit of Yamato in the world of modern Budo

Japanese paper (washi 和紙) is one of the several symbols of Japanese culture and spirit. It is made using fibers from the bark of the gampi tree, the mitsumata shrub (Edgeworthia papyrifera), or the paper mulberry. Washi comes from wa which refers to Japanese and shi meaning paper. The process is very precise and requires skills and knowledge held by a handful of families throughout Japan. However, due to the “modernization” of society and technology, the lengthy process, and declining interest/appreciation by younger generation is slowly causing the tradition to erode.

It was during a discussion about this subject with my Shodo (calligraphy) teacher that I was reminded once again about the importance of Yamato Damashi and subsequently sparked the interest to write this article. Sensei mentioned that although Japanese paper can be made by a more “cost efficient ways” and may look like Japanese paper it cannot be called one. The reason for this is that the traditional way of producing paper is done with the “correct spirit”. This “spirit” cannot be achieved with technology but rather through passing knowledge from teacher to student by word of mouth. This “spirit/attitude” is connected to any action in ones daily life and is especially prevalent in the world of Budo.

Yamato-damashii 大和魂 (“the Japanese spirit”) is a historical and cultural, developed in the Heian period which set the premises of describing Japanese spirit and attitude achieved by following the ‘way’ of the people. This term is often contrasted with the knowledge and scholarship imported into Japan from China. It can be also understood as ‘The Soul of Old Japan’. ‘For this national type of moral character was invented the name Yamato-damashi Yamato-damashii refers to “Japan or Japanese”. The characters for Yamato (大和) translates as great harmony. Wa (倭 or 和) is Japan’s oldest endonym and derives from the Han Dynasty Chinese exonym Wō 倭 “Japan, Japanese”. This character 倭, which graphically combines the 亻 “human, person” radical and a wěi 委 “bend” Japanese scribes replaced the Chinese character 倭 for Wa “Japan” with Wa 和 “harmony; peace”.

Soke has also mentioned “Tamashii”. Most commonly translated as “soul”, we may also acknowledge that in order to understand the duty of fudoumyo, we must accept fully the teachings to understand the soul of bushido
Developing the soul of budo is the aim of the true budoka. This is far more important to me than continually learning new skill sets. While training, we will inevitably learn new waza. However, if there is no soul or heart to the movement, there is ultimately nothing, only an empty shell. This is part of the reason we recite the Ninja Seishin and a special verse every class.
Damashi or Tamashi is closely related to the theme of the year, Sai no Kon Ki. In this theme Utsuwa also can imply a person of high calibre or capacity. A person may have Saino & Tamashii, 魂but must have the caliber to understand, unify, and use these together in harmony to their full potential.

This type of ‘spirit’ is of extreme importance in the world Budo and Ninpo. In essence if you do this type of Budo without this type of attitude you may not be doing Japanese Budo but rather your own interpretation of it. It’s not something that can be seen necessarily or even understood. It is more like being able to absorb it with the whole body over time. To further explain what it is that is being referred to let’s look at air. It cannot be seen, touched or felt yet everyone knows it exists and we need it to sustain life. Another analogy would be that one cannot cook any kind of ethnic food without being able to fully absorb the process, flavour, taste and customs associated. There is a story about an individual moved to Japan to study Japanese paper making and was asked about the subject after training for several years. His reply was that although I have been learning how to make paper for quite some time I have yet to achieve the required spirit associated with it and as such cannot call the paper I am making Japanese. it would probably require additional time to acquire this essence. In Ninpo, when you perform a waza without this type of spirit it in essence loses its flavour and authenticity. Many of the modern Budo and sport martial arts may seem attractive to many but are truly deviating from the source.

This is not an easy concept to understand especially for a person who was not born and educated with this type o
f mentality. It also easy to ignore this type of attitude as it requires in some cases an adjustment to ones perspective and conduct. The truth is not always easy to accept but as practitioners of Ninpo we strive to polish our spirit through training and follow the righteous heart. I encourage you to dig deep and discover the true essence and spirit of our Budo.

Japanese royal family visit to Toronto

With handshakes from one last group of dignitaries, Japan’s Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko left Ottawa Wednesday afternoon, concluding their six-day visit in the capital. They boarded their official government 747 bound for Toronto, to continue their 11-day goodwill tour to celebrate the 80th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Canada and Japan.

This is part of an email sent to me by one of my students which I though was an interesting observation and may be of interest to our readers.

“Good Afternoon Sensei,

I just wanted to pass something on to you that I thought may be of interest. I recently had the honour of viewing parts of the Imperial visit of the Emperor and Empress of Japan. I was able to see the Emperor and Empress on a few different occasions such as the Sick Kids Hospital, Queen’s Park, and the Japanese Cultural Center. I wanted to share my thoughts with you about the Emperor and Empress since I believe we may all learn significantly from the Royal Family in terms of their humanitarian efforts, their daily life, and the rich culture and history of Japan of which they are a living expression.

At the Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto, the Emperor and Empress visited many different areas. I observed them interact with some children in the library reading room of Sick Kids Hospital for about a half an hour. They spent time talking to children that were patients of the hospital. They were genuine and compassionate in their time with these children and they took time to speak to many children. I thought it was wonderful that they took time with these children; some of whom suffer from very tragic physical and mental conditions, and struggle substantially on a daily basis. I felt the Empress was moved by these kids and she sang a song for the children in the reading room. It was a nice and special time for the children and for all of us to share.

At the Japanese Cultural Centre I was able to see and learn much about the Imperial Couple. I was also early and was able to watch a video that was showing on a large screen in the same room where we held our Takai. The room was decorated nicely for the reception of the Emperor and Empress. I was able to watch a video documenting some periods in the life of the Emperor and Empress. I’ll try to break this video down into specific themes.

Based on this brief documentary, it was clear that the Emperor is a highly educated, studious and learned man. The video showed a section of the Emperor’s library housing books on Okinawan history, culture, and traditions of which there were several (roughly forty or so and I’m being conservative in my estimate). The documentary spoke of the Emperor’s desire to learn as much about Okinawa and its people. The documentary spoke of the Japanese military’s campaigns and conduct in Okinawa during WWII and the effect this had on the Okinawan people and their ‘complex’ feelings towards the Emperor. I believe the Emperor understands this very well based on his studies and contact with the people. I believe the Emperor has had a sincere desire to learn of their suffering and I think I remember the Emperor stating in the documentary that he acknowledges the suffering incurred by many people at the hands of the Japanese army in WWII and that he deplores acts of inhumanity. I don’t want to offer many opinions but I do believe the Emperor to be a sincere humanitarian and a man of deep spiritual conviction. I observed him speak openly about the past tragedies inflicted by the Japanese (such as against the Chinese and the Dutch in front of official representatives of both nations), and I believe that he does so freely of his own volition in order to acknowledge and atone for his nation’s past.

I also learned about his spiritual side. There is a time (once a year) where the Emperor performs a ceremony where he must kneel in a temple for several hours (I can’t remember the exact amount). The video stated the Emperor observes this ceremony with the utmost respect and serious consideration; for it is one in which he prays for the well-being of the Japanese people as a whole. I remember the documentary stating that the Emperor’s reverence for the gods causes him to remain completely focused during the hours of his prayer service; and that he prepares for this time throughout the year prior to the occasion.

I also observed the Royal Couple in the natural landscape of their nation. They were able to recognize many different kinds of trees, birds, and flowers by name. I would think that they make time to enjoy the natural beauty of the world and to learn as much as they can about nature. I think that the Emperor and Empress are also no stranger to manual labour, since he and the Empress have a garden in which they grow their own rice, herbs, and vegetables. I was able to see them working in the garden and preparing some of the crops.

hope I was able to pass on something enlightning about such interesting and exceptional people from a part of the world which has offered us the richness of our Art to you Sensei.

Take Care Sensei”