Mitsunari Kanai (April 15, 1939 – March 28, 2004) was one of the last live-in students trained by the O-Sensei. 8 Dan Aikido Aikikai Shihan, Iaido teacher and a founder of the New England Aikikai.
Mitsunari Kanai trained in Judo in the years of his youth but he became dissatisfied as he was moving deeper. After school, Kanai Sensei was working in a typewriting company but at some point, he started to think about what he really wants from life. He knew about the Aikido from a video he seen in the Tamagawa amusement park where Nobuyoshi Tamura was taking ukemi for the O-Sensei. He also got impressed by a book of a second Doshu.
Mitsunari Kanai quit the job and went for Hombu to become an uchi-deshi in 1958. A friend he was doing Judo with together, Kazuo Chiba Sensei was already in when Kanai came for the first time. Future Sensei had to be assertive to be accepted and he did. During the 8 years stay Kanai Sensei was able to learn also the Iaido deeply with the teachers who were visiting O-Sensei. He did that every day since 1960 after the Hombu duties were done.
In 1965 Hombu Dojo received a request for an Aikido teacher for the Boston, USA. Mitsunari Kanai Sensei found himself in Boston making his best to convince a city without the monetary support and the language. He had hard times but was able to establish Dojo with his own standards. He found a wife in the USA, made kids of course.
New England Aikikai had thousands of students inside learning Aikido and Iaido with the Mitsunari Kanai Shihan. Week-long summer camps were held in the Dojo with the guest Hombu instructors. Sensei has become a Technical Director in the Eastern Region of the United States Aikido Federation and Canada Aikido Federation where he went regularly with the seminars. He had a heart attack during a Canadian seminar in 2004 when he was 64 years old.
Enjoy a 1999 interview with the Shihan on the torontoaikikai.com and his profile seen by Kazuo Chiba in 2002 at the aikidojournal.com.