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Amidst an apathetic World

Kawaraban No. 31


by Kenji Shimizu

The following happened some years ago. When I was walking along the sidewalk running parallel to highway 246 with a dōjō visitor from Germany, bicycles passed incessantly. They came from the front as well as from behind. While we could react to the bicycles coming from the front accordingly, the bicycles coming vigorously from behind baffled us. That German man mentioned jokingly that Japan seemed to be quite a dangerous place for pedestrians without a rearview mirror.

I was struck a bit, but could not dismiss this remark simply as a joke. Furthermore, there is the disaster with the bicycle parking space, a situation that came to a head after many years. What actions are the Japanese administration and authorities actually taking against it? I ponder what the responsibilities of these authorities actually are? But wait; among the users there are people, whose insensitiveness has reached an extreme. I believe, this kind of selfish thinking results in many troubles. And I feel compelled to think how our country will develop in future.

Nowadays there are many children growing up with an education that mainly trains the brain. They haven’t got the physical balance. We tend to bring up insensitive children, whose bodies behave selfishly.

Long time ago muscles, mind and manners were trained in the military and scholastic arts. Nowadays information from the television and magazines are flooding us. We live in an era of decisions based mainly upon information received by eyes and ears, which are processed by our brain. We are drifting towards an insensitive world.

But because nerves cover our whole body – the nerves extend to the remotest body parts -, various activities of our whole body are necessary for interactions with the outside world. For example, dialogues with nature, sports and human contacts. I want to cultivate not only the acquiring of knowledge, but rather bring out abilities like the feeling for truth, intentions and esthetic.

Well, some days ago I finished the seminars in Germany and have returned (I am still jetlagged). This time students from nine countries came together and practiced intensively and concentratedly. The seminar’s location Herzogenhorn - next to the French-Swiss border – is really a beautiful place. I was surprised to learn that more than ten students had an even longer journey considering time to get to this place than I, who came from Japan. These students from distant foreign countries wanted to learn to understand the soul of Japanese culture and the nature of mind by practicing aikidō. They made an effort to grasp the teachings. Therefore, I believe, that we Japanese should not blame ourselves for want of our behavior. The opportunity to meet every year appreciated domestic and foreign friends is one reason why I do not stop loving this budō unreservedly.

© translated by Birgit Lauenstein and Peter Nawrot 04/2003