In 1995, the Japanese Government presented Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba with a Congressional Medal of Honor for his life time of achievements. On this auspicious occasion, Sensei Phong was invited to attend the celebration by Moriteru Ueshiba, Executive Director of Aikido World Headquarters. Sensei was one of only four Sensei invited from the United States to attend the event.

On October 8th, Mr. Jim Ogborn and I had the honor to accompany Sensei Phong to Tokyo, Japan. We got in touch with Shihan Masatake Fujita, General Secretary of Aikido World Headquarters, and were escorted directly to Doshu Ueshiba’s home. After a delightful visit, we returned to our hotel to rest before the celebration party.

Among some 3,000 distinguished guests at the party, I had the chance to see Mr. Kaifu, the former Prime Minister, Mr. Yosano, the Minister of Education and Mr. Kamei, the Minister of Transportation. Before this, I was able to see them only in their CNN news appearances. I was also pleasantly surprised to find out that these gentlemen were also life time Aikidoist, students of the Doshu himself.

Moreover, I was touched by the message given by the Polish Ambassador, Mr. Lipshits. In his speech, he mentioned that Aikido’s principle is a circular movement. The earth and the universe’s movements also follow this principle. Therefore, Aikido’s KI force in nature can unify people’s minds with the universe.

As the bottles of champagne were disappearing throughout the night and good spirits were found everywhere, Sensei Phong also had a chance to meet many Hombu Dojo Shihans from various cities from around the world. I was so happy to hear that all Sensei’s there were well informed of the latest developments for Tenshinkai Aikido in Vietnam and at our very own Westminster Aikikai.

Everyone there was very happy for the successes of Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba and Sensei Phong’s achievements

Besides the official business during this trip to Japan, Sensei Phong and Jim had the chance to visit O’Sensei’s grave in Tanabe City, Wakayama Prefecture and O’Sensei’s home. We also spent about half a day of sight-seeing in my home town of Kyoto on our way back to Tokyo to attend the celebration. Fortunately, this time, Sensei Phong was not too busy and was able to enjoy the sights of Japan which he was not able to on his two previous trips.

By Shoji Kongo

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