Cultural flourishing through peace

Ki-Aikido as we know and develop it further, has its roots in a period of great cultural prosperity. For more than 160 years Japan had neither internal wars nor much contact with other countries. Compared to European history, Japan enjoyed an unprecedentedly long period of peace that became possible after a domestic struggle for power that was won by Tokugawa in 1600. This was not a democratic process; rather, a grab for power by a general. The Japanese emperor was still revered but the power rested with this all-powerful general, the Shogun, who established the long period of peace referred to as the Tokugawa Shogunate (1600-1864).
All the energy that was invested in mutual warfare between and within the European countries during that period were in Japan transformed in cultural activity, leading to a refined way of life and a boom in arts such as theater (Kabuki and Noh), poetry, woodcut prints such as those by Hokusai and Hiroshige, calligraphy (Sho Do), flower arrangement (Ikebana or Ka Do) and the puppet theater (Bunraku). This cultural richness was only discovered centuries later and exerted a great influence on Western artists such as Vincent van Gogh.
An important characteristic of Japanese culture is a strong awareness of the transience, brevity and changeability of life. The artists are often trying to show the preciousness of the moment. The main theme of Hokusai's 36 Views of Mount Fuji, for instance, is that changeability of the moment of perception. In this sense, art is an aesthetic meditation on human life and a path of life or a Do; what we also find in the name 'Aikido'