Photo By: Jacqueline Olivé
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Kanto
Island
Honshu
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Mito
Population
2,985,424

Aiki Shrine and Ibaraki Branch Dojo

Channel your spirit to become an aikido master at the very place the martial art was born.

You’re walking alone after dark along a dimly-lit alley when someone accosts you, trying to steal your wallet. Swift and agile, you grab their wrist and throw them to the ground—little does the would-be thief know, you are skilled in the art of aikido. Well, you could be if you trained at the Ibaraki Branch Dojo, anyway.

Aiki Shrine and Iwama Dojo in Ibaraki Prefecture

Photo by: Jacqueline Olivé Bet he won’t try that again.

Aikido focuses on using an opponent’s strength and speed against them while leaving them unharmed. The defensive martial art can be easily practiced by anyone as it requires little physical strength. The dojo, just two hours east of Tokyo in Ibaraki Prefecture, offers extremely foreigner-friendly aikido lessons and intensive live-in training.

Aiki Shrine

Stop by Aiki Shrine on your way to pay your respects to aikido founder Morihei Ueshiba. Ueshiba erected the shrine in 1943 and spent the later years of his life living and training here.

Photo by: Jacqueline Olivé Aiki Shrine.

The shrine is rather small, but as this is the birthplace of aikido, it’s a must-visit for any practitioner. It’s the only shrine dedicated to aikido in the world, and also features a statue of the founder.

Ueshiba believed the true spirit of martial arts is to nurture the spirit and live harmoniously with nature—which is why he built the shrine in the quiet farming town of Iwama.

Ibaraki Branch Dojo

Just across the street is the Ibaraki Branch Dojo, where you can level up your aikido skills. Live-in students follow a strict schedule that includes waking up at 5 a.m., cleaning the shrine, and training three times a day.

Aiki Shrine and Iwama Dojo in Ibaraki Prefecture

Photo by: Jacqueline Olivé Anyone is welcome to train at the Ibaraki Branch Dojo.

Dedicated practitioners come from around the world to train here, creating a friendly international atmosphere. Anyone is welcome as long as they register with the Aikikai Foundation and submit an application to the dojo beforehand. Live-in students typically stay for at least one week, and evening classes are open to regular students daily.

While there is a much larger aikido dojo in Tokyo—Hombu Dojo in Shinjuku— training surrounded by trees with Aiki Shrine nearby offers a more tranquil experience in the true spirit of the martial art.

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Things To Know

Hours and fees

Classes are ¥540 a day or ¥5400 a month. For live-in students, an additional ¥1080 accommodation fee is charged per day.

Live-in student application

Visit Iwama Dojo’s website to apply as a live-in student. http://www13.big.or.jp/~aikikai/e_annai.html

How To Get There

Address

270−4 Yoshioka, Kasama, Ibaraki 319-0203, Japan

By train

From Ueno Station, take the JR Joban line to Iwama Station.

From Narita Airport take the Keisei line to Nippori station and transfer to the JR Joban line. Get off at Iwama Station.

The shrine and dojo are about a five-minute walk from Iwama Station’s east exit.

Where To Stay

Restay Champion (Adult Only)
  • Oshinobe 2531−5 Kasama-Shi, Ibaraki 319-0205
  • 7.4/10
  • 3.3 km
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Ryokan Inami
  • Kurusu 45-5 Kasama-Shi, Ibaraki 309-1625
  • 6.8/10
  • 9.4 km
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Family Inn Ibaraki (Adult Only)
  • Saigochi 1470-2 Omitama-Shi, Ibaraki 319-0102
  • 7/10
  • 9.8 km
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Yusenso
  • Miyucho 1105 Mito-Shi, Ibaraki 319-0316
  • 7.8/10
  • 10.0 km
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