Aikido Pilgrimage



It all started when I (Lucile) got an opportunity in summer 2013 to visit Japan again. During high school I had spent an exchange year in the land of the rising sun, and it became my adoptive home country. By chance, the exchange organisation had sent me to Tanabe, the aikido founder’s homeland. This is how I discovered and fell in love with aikido. So, 15 years later, I decided to make an aikido pilgrimage through Japan: training in various dojos in Kyoto, Tokyo and Tanabe, visiting Ueshiba’s grave and the Kumano shrines.

Shortly before starting my journey, I looked for a new dogi. As an environmentalist, I wanted one made of organic cotton and produced under fair conditions. However, I realised no aikido uniform on the market was meeting any sustainability criteria. My 2013 agenda book cover quoted Lily Tomlin:

I said: ‘Somebody should do shomething about that.’ Then I realized I am somebody.

I decided to follow in Tomlin’s footsteps: not to wait for the conventional industry to make it happen, but ‘simply’ to give it a try myself and take care of this market gap.

In Kyoto and Tokyo, I met Japanese sustainability and entrepreneurship experts and visited the headquarters of a Japanese aikidogi brand. The director was very friendly and supportive and gave me precious insights into the supply chain of aikidogis. His advice however: rather develop a supply chain directly in Europe than in Japan.