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The Usui Dojo

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Last Updated: November 26, 2014
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Image from http://home.planet.nl/~d.v.ooijen/sashimisen/things_japanese/tatami_f.html
(a possible modern Reiki dojo or training space)
(image modiifed from source: http://home.planet.nl/~d.v.ooijen/sashimisen/things_japanese/tatami_f.html)

Usui Sensei's training hall (dojo) was of medium size.  His dojo in the Aoyama district of Tokyo was a 12 mat dojo.  Tatami mats are roughly 3 feet by 6 feet so the size of the room would have been something like 12 feet by 18 feet.   The room was either attached to Sensei's dwelling or was a space he rented in another building. 

Like most dojos of it's time, before entering the room there was a simple place for the Shinto misogi practice of temizu -  the cleansing of the hands and mouth using a dipper and water from a container.  It is a smaller and simpler version of the greater waterfall misogi cleansing ritual.

image thanks to www.tsubakishrine.org
Misogi Dojo Ritual
bamboo dipper
Dipper and Basin
Kenyoku Ho Ritual - Step 1

The dipper was picked up in the right hand (at the end of the handle) and filled with water from the fountain or bowl; one quarter of the water was poured over the left hand for ritual cleansing - this was done away from the fountain or bowl; then the now cleansed left hand held the dipper in an area not touched by the right hand as this was "unclean"; another quarter of the water was poured over the right hand to cleanse it; the right hand now held the dipper in the middle of the handle and poured another quarter of the water into the left hand from which the mouth was rinsed;  The final quarter of water was upended so that it flowed down the handle of the dipper, thus cleansing the complete handle for the next person. The dipper was then placed over the bowl, cup facing downwards.

In 1925, Dr. Hayashi is reported to have introduced the process called Kenyoku-ho into the dojo.  It was another form of cleansing that could be done inside the dojo in order to disconnect oneself from a previous exercise or act.  The 3 part inner brushing and the 3 part outer brushing were intended to represent a form of temizu, cleansing the inner and outer you.

dojo shoes
Shoes left at Dojo entrance
zafi and xabuton
Zafu cushion and Zabuton mat
Next, before entering the dojo you would remove your shoes and leave them outside before entering the dojo (another Shinto cleansing ritual.) 
Once inside the dojo, the doka (student) would give a shin bow towards the tokonoma and then the same to Usui Sensei.  If there were other doka present then a gyo bow would be exchanged with the group.  Those already present would move off their zabuton (floor mat or cushion) and give a gyo bow as well, before returning to their cushion.

shin bow
Note that the bowing might also be done while standing. The politeness of bowing was also executed between doka when they were given a kata exercise to practice. Each time they would get off their zabuton and gyo bow to their partner before and after the exercise. When class was over, students would again shin bow to Sensei and to the Tokonoma before leaving the dojo.
gyo bow
The tokonoma is a small alcove in the wall, or a raised section at the front of the dojo, that faces opposite the entry way of the room
(see image at top of this article.)  It holds a kakejiku (hanging scroll).  In the case of the Usui dojo, this was the original Gainen. In a typical Reiki dojo tokonoma after the passing of Sensei, you might also find a picture of Sensei.  This might be a copy of the large portrait photo that Dr. Hayashi had taken before Sensei's passing.

Mikao Usui

Modern hanignig of original Usui gainen

Usui Gainen

(from usui-do.org)

(The blue part is a close sample of
 the original.
The background originally was
blue linen)

Doka were seated in seiza style on their zabuton. They were in pairs of rows running from the front of the dojo to the back.  There were up to 4 doka in a row and each pair of rows faced each other. The doka opposite you would be your partner for any exercises.  In the smaller dojo there were sometimes 2 sets of rows (thus 4 lines of doka). The senior doka would sit closest to the front of the dojo.  Sensei would sit at the front of the class and teach from there.  At the end of class he would also sit quietly as all students filed out.

Seiza examples

In 1923 Sensei moved the dojo to a larger premise in the Nakano district which at the time was outside the city. The dojo was now about twice the size as before and there was an additional room where Sensei would often sleep.  It would have been a long walk back to his Aoyama home, assuming his family still lived in this location.  Note that the Aoyama district is adjacent to the Shinano Machi district where Dr. Hayashi lived.

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