If he was feeling well, the Founder would call us for Aikido practice. Dressed in his kimono, he especially enjoyed practicing suwarewaza—shomen uchi ikkyo, and standing ai hanmi katatetori iriminage omote. He instructed us in timing as uke.
Having had breakfast at about 9:00 am., the Founder did not eat lunch. Kikuno and I however would be ravenous, especially after practice, and would eat left-overs from breakfast. We would make extra portions for breakfast to insure that we had enough left over for lunch.
In the afternoon, the Founder engaged himself in different activities. In the springtime, I remember the Founder and his wife Hatsu planting peanuts in the garden. Hatsu was almost bent in half with age, but she still was very skilled with a hoe. She would form the rows for planting deftly wielding the hoe before her. My job was to add fresh compost to the rows to make them rich for planting. The Founder would follow, flipping peanuts expertly into the fresh mounds with a flip of his thumb and forefinger. As I think about it now, his skill at planting peanuts came from the many years he homesteaded in Hokkaido and the years he coordinated the garden planting and harvests with the Omoto Kyo.
Usually, once a month, the Founder would visit Hombu dojo in Tokyo. If it was to be a long visit, he would stay for four or five days. On the mornings he left for Tokyo, he would finish his morning ceremony a little early. In spring, we would bundle up freshly picked daikon leaves, nanohana, nira, and shungiku to take on the journey. After finishing breakfast, we would take a taxi to the station. Even if we were running late, we always arrived at least half an hour before the train was due to arrive. Sometimes we arrived a full hour before departure. Iwama was a small town with a small station. Only the local train stopped at Iwama. To catch the express train to Tokyo we had to change trains at a larger station down the line. I would carry the Founder’s leather doctor bag that was given to him during a trip to Hawaii in one hand. On my back was the bundle of fresh vegetables tied into a cloth furoshiki. I always walked in front of the Founder to protect him from harms way. Once in a while, when we changed to the express train I would have trouble finding a seat for the Founder to sit in. On these occasions I would pick a student in uniform that had already found a seat and “convince him” to give it up for the Founder. I was pretty good at “convincing” in those days! Anyway there are a lot of stories about traveling as otomo with the Founder, but those too are for another day.
At that time, there were no uchideshi living at Hombu dojo. I want to make that clear. The only person living at Hombu dojo was Mr. Mitsuo Tsunoda, who served as maintenance man and caretaker when the Founder visited. He did not practice Aikido.
Recently I have seen advertisements for instructors who claim to have been Hombu uchideshi under the Founder at that time. This is not true. For at least three years before the Founders passing there was no one living at Hombu dojo. Anyway, the Founder did not live at Hombu. The only Hombu uchideshi were students of the second Doshu, Kisshomaru Ueshiba, and were salaried staff students.