Visit the "Birthplace of Aikido"

Iwama, Japan - 7~16 April 2019

Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of aikido, called Iwama the ubuya or birth-place of aikido. He lived and trained there from the time aikido was named in 1942 until his death in 1969 and was succeeded as dojocho by Morihiro Saito until 2002. Alan Roberts was apprenticed to Saito there from 1988 to 1993. Today, the Iwama Dojo is considered the shibu or branch dojo of the Aikikai's Tokyo Headquarters. As well as the Founder's dojo and home, Iwama is the site of the Aiki Shrine, the spiritual centre for all practitioners of aikido.

Our dojo's roots are in Iwama so join our group of aikido pilgrams to train and experience for yourself the place where the Founder was most at home.

The information below is to give you a general overview of the trip but exact details may change between now and departure so please allow some flexibility in your preparations. If you are ready to commit, sign up here!


We leave Auckland on the morning Sunday 7th April and arrive in Japan early that evening, travelling by train to Iwama and arriving mid evening.

We stay and train at the dojo that week and then leave for Tokyo the afternoon of Sunday 14th April where we will stay until Tuesday to train at Hombu Dojo and explore the capital.

The group return to New Zealand is scheduled for the afternoon of Tuesday 16th April but you would be welcome to continue your stay in Japan in your own time beyond that.


In Iwama, primarily training. Three one-hour classes, morning, afternoon and evening. Living at the dojo  entails early morning starts, cleaning and other chores and the preparation of group meals. While in Iwama, we can explore the town, climb Mt Atago, train at the shrine at the top and bathe in the waterfall on the far side. There may also be opportunities for day trips in the nearby area, dependent on dojo activities.

Sunday 14th April is a working bee in preparation for Aiki Taisai on 29th April. This is a great opportunity to contribute to the dojo and to meet more of the local aikido community while working together and also at the after work party that afternoon.

In Tokyo we will take an early morning class on Monday with Doshu at Hombu Dojo, then you are free to explore the capital in your own time. 

Costs (Indicative)

Airfares are likely to range from $1500-$2000

Training, accommodation and other associated fees in Iwama ¥12,000 ($160)

Food while in Iwama ¥1,500-¥2000 ($20-$25) per day paid into a kitty

Train fares for basic travel plans ¥5,000 ($70) [Narita Airport-Iwama-Tokyo-Narita Airport]

Accommodation in Tokyo ¥8,000 per night ($110)

Meals in Tokyo ¥6,000-¥8000 per day ($80-$110)

Plus spending money and money for sundries like short train fares etc.

If you are not already registered with the Aikikai you will need to do so ¥8,640 ($115)

Please note that this is the best estimate of costs that can be made at this time and may be subject to change without notice. (Exchange rate was calculated at approximately ¥75=NZ$1)

Sounds fantastic! What do I do now?

There is already a lot of interest in this trip and there is a limit to the size of the group that we can reasonably take so, if you are excited about training at the cradle of aikido, sign up now!