In Japan, the dojo serves as much more than a training facility for martial artists. A dojo is any formal training facility where members learn and practice physical skills and art forms, specifically the “do” forms. The Japanese suffix “do” means the way of, and often implies that the technique in question possesses a spiritual element. Since the Meiji era (1868 to 1912), Japanese martial artists have adopted this suffix for the names of martial arts, such as Aikido, Judo, and Kendo.
In Japanese culture, the dojo is a symbolically important structure. Training is usually conducted outside the building on the grounds, while the interior is used for more ritualistic observations, and as a display for artifacts and weapons associated with the dojo and its members. The dojo is cared for and maintained by its students, who at the end of every each training session perform a ritual “souji,” or cleaning. The importance of rank pervades every aspect of dojo life; there are even separate entrances to the building, one for the teachers, and one for the students.