In my continuing quest to understand the principles of Aikido, I look to the Japanese language. Generally in budo it seems the kanji ri, 理 is the most common used to describe the idea of principle. In judo, for instance, this word in used in the name of the ju no ri, or the principle of softness.
I found another word which brings up an interesting idea, that of immutable principle or iron law. 鉄則（てっそく） Tessoku / an invariable principle, an iron law. I have chosen to follow ri 理, because I believe in the power of words. I do not believe in rigid thinking in our pursuit of the martial path. Principle flavored with reason and justice as the definition of ri 理, rather than rigid 鉄則tessoku law. I feel the ri 理 definition follows the true underlying philosophy of Aikido closer.
Lets look at the kanji, both in it's modern form (kaisho) and it's ancient form (tensho).
I think looking at the parts of a Japanese symbol is telling of the logic of it's meaning. The word 'principle' is made from the parts - 'king and village'. You can use your imagination and see that a principle could be an proclamation to his people in the village. Indeed this character says to me, law of the land!
Here are the composite parts.
one's parents' home