Suzuki from Cuke Pages
Mitsu Suzuki main cuke page
More links to Mitsu Suzuki on
From Interview with Yasuko Oishi, Shunryu's daughter and eldest child.
From Interviews with Hoitsu Suzuki, son and dharma heir of Shunryu
From interview with Otohiro Suzuki, Shunryu's youngest son
Excerpts from interview with Koshin Ogui - Jodoshinshu priest from BCA around the corner from Sokoji,
a book for Zentatsu Baker's 70th birthday
In photo of Betty Warren's collection [Maybe I'll come back and put the phots here. - dc]
Four PDFs with correspondence from/to Mitsu in Japanese among that listed on this page.
In Japanese - notes for untranslated farewell talk by Mitsu (when she returned to Japan)
4-22-07 (from a report on Peter Coyote's lay ordination: "...Mary Watson who told about visiting Mitsu Suzuki, Suzuki's widow, in Japan last fall. She said Mitsu, 93 this year, said they'd be the last guests, that she was too old and tired for visitors. And then Mitsu took them on a long walk to a park."
From cuke interview with Tomoe Katagiri, the only specific thing she mentions Shunryu Suzuki saying to her is:
He mentioned to understand his wife, Mitsu. He mentioned to me please understand Mitsu Suzuki's character.
D: Like study her?
T: Her personality.
T: That is the question.
D: Did he mean she was a good example?
T: She is very characteristic person. So if I understand . . . that will help me.
DC Comment: My way of understanding this now is that I didn't understand what Tomoe was saying. I saw it as Shunryu telling her to watch Mitsu because she could learn from her, but now I think it's about how Mitsu was hard on Tomoe. I recall seeing that and hearing about it. Mitsu was headstrong and Tomoe was passive. I've had many Japanese talk to me about how hard they can be on each other.
Mitsu once asked him, “What are you
thinking about all the time?”
It became clear that Suzuki was going to stay longer. His second wife, Mitsu, and teenage son joined him.
The hippie migration to the Bay area brought more seekers to Suzuki's door. And so many of them were unkempt, barefoot, and long-haired. When he heard exasperated comments about these young seekers from Mitsu, Suzuki said he was very grateful to them and would do all that he could for them. So Mitsu started putting out damp towels that people could clean their feet on before entering the meditation hall.
In November of 1969 Suzuki and Mitsu moved to a fine residential brick building on Page Street.
In 1970 Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind was released, a carefully edited book featuring a series of simple and eloquent lectures Suzuki had given to his Los Altos group. Mitsu was upset there was an unshaven photo of her husband on the back.
Mitsu, who was actually a sort of student of her husband, would get angry at him a lot and often said, “Good priest, bad husband.” She said that when he went to America that she was gravely ill with an unknown ailment and that he'd just told her good luck and left. He'd actually married her only shortly before that and for expediency - because Sokoji wanted a married priest. They never lived together until she came to America. A number of Japanese priests have commented on how close and unusual their relationship was for older Japanese.
His wife, Mitsu-san said that he passed away quietly, and that as he wanted to take a bath a few hours before he died, she washed him. Now those Zen centers have been taken care of by the Americans and Mitsu-san is still there mending their koromo.
Interview with Yasuko Oishi, Shunryu's daughter and eldest child.
Towards the end of the war he had gone to Manchuria to build a temple - there was a town called Shizuoka village in Manchuria. It was named after Shizuoka, the capitol city of our prefecture, and he wanted to build a temple there. [Thatís interesting - Hoitsu also thought he wanted to found a temple there but Mitsu said he went to be a priest to troops or to lay people.]
He married Mitsu in December of 58 and went to America in May of 59. Mitsu joined him two years later.
A week after I got married, my father remarried. Hoitsu was in the University in Tokyo and Oumi was in a mental hospital. Otohiro was a junior high student. Otohiro joined my father two years later with Mitsu when she went.
Otohiro asked Mitsu not to make him go to high school in the states but he had to. He's forty-nine now.
Mitsu and Otohiro went to the US by ship. I saw it go slowly away and it made me so sad. A plane would have been fast. Otohiro was crying hard when he left.
Mitsu and Shunryu-san had a pretty equal relationship.
"Yes, mitsu doesn't hide anything and my father liked that about her. They didn't fight so much because they said everything up front. I think that they were an ideal couple - my real mother wasn't like her. She didn't say what she felt. And he didn't express his real feelings to her either. Although they didn't fight so much there was a distance between them. She was like a servant to him but Mitsu was on equal ground with him.
DC: You came over with Mitsu. Did you know her very well by then?
O: She was my kindergarten principal. Did I know her well? No. Not well.
DC: She never lived at Rinso-in. When Shunryu married Mitsu were you surprised?
O: No I guess not. My grandmother told me something. It was her idea.
DC: That's what Hoitsu says.
O: Mitsu says that. So that's what happened. Why they got married? I guess my father knew her a long time.
DC: From the late forties. She knew your mother too. The reasons Japanese people get married are so different from here. In terms of writing a book, I can't just say . . .
O: I guess the way you put your mind to it.
DC: Six months to a year you stayed in Sokoji. Above the office?
O: Right above the office.
DC: I've never been there but I'm going to go look. Do you want to come with me?
DC: I want to spend time there so I can describe it. I've never been upstairs. Shunryu and Mitsu lived up there. And you. And then you moved across the street?
O: Right. An apartment across the street. I guess Sokoji was paying for it. Yeah, I liked that. Actually the room itself was not even like this. Very small room. My father had a small room on top of the office. The stairs comes up and right hand side as you go up there's an attic there with a bed. I stayed there. Mitsu stayed with Shunryu in the other room. Just for sleeping. Living room was downstairs. And kitchen, and zendo, and office. That's our living room.
O: Then I went to City College for one year. I knew I would have a hard time. After a year I decided to become barber. Barber school for about 6 months or so. Then I got the degree. I think that was my mother (Mitsu's) idea. I worked about a year or so.
I knew then that Vietnam War started going on, that I'm going to get drafted. I might as well go. I cannot stand waiting. My feeling is not settled. I might as well go. I went into the Army.
DC: Did Mitsu or Shunryu have anything to say about this? Did they encourage you? Was this all your idea.
O: Most likely. Do whatever you want. Go ahead. They didn't encourage me. I decided.
My father said call Baker Roshi . . .And all the people came. . . .In a couple of hours he died. That was the morning.
DC: Baker came. Who else?
O: I don't know how many people. Three or four people I think.
DC: Mitsu, Dick, Yvonne --
DC: You think he wanted to come to America earlier.
O: Yes he probably did. Nothing he said, but how he acted, when he got to 55 years old. Normal person, normal priest in Japan -- I can't do that now, I'm too old to do things like that. There is younger people out there, educated people out there. He says, okay, I do it. I don't know how long he had to make a decision.
DC: I think he had a year or something. Do you remember Yamada in Shumucho? He's dead now. I think Yamada talked to him earlier. Maybe Yamada and he started talking about it in '57 or something. And Tobase -- he was gone a year before Shunryu came. He had to tie up Rinso-in. I think he had to marry Mitsu before he came.
O: He has to marry with someone. I guess it was some kind of deal -- something. They wanted a married person.
DC: Nobody knows that here. Mitsu says that. Hoitsu didn't understand that. They wanted a married priest here. He filled out the application for a visa. He filled out that he was married so he got a visa for a married priest.
O: I was saying that father has to marry because . . .
DC: Because of maybe some problem with Tobase.
O: Oh yes, something like that. I hear about that, something like that. There was something before. Sokoji members don't want to have a single person. They want a married person, so they don't have any problem. If that's the case, then my grandma said, get married to Mitsu. She's the one that suggested doing that.
DC: That's what Mitsu says. Mitsu says that he said, good idea. He liked that idea. But people here think he married Mitsu because of Rinso-in. But she never lived at Rinso-in.
O: My mother was different. . . . (inaudible) . . . she was strong person. (inaudible) . . . she was very independent person.
DC: Very unusual for a Japanese. I spent a lot of time with her last April. I spent time with her in Japan with Japanese people and I saw how different she is.
O: She's unusual in Japan and in the United States, but most likely she'd be more -- rather be in United States than Japan most likely. I don't think I can find a person like that.
DC: She's unusual. And with men. I was with three men in their 70s -- [shitotsu?] and Kayoko, -- we went and got Mitsu. She's very strong.
O: I would say, I know her more than anyone else. But I have to keep away. (inaudible) . . .
DC: You kept some distance.
O: Have to make some distance there. Otherwise, she's unhappy.
DC: She and I were very close. We were actually closer in the '60s. I've seen her many times, but there's always been -- I saw her right before she left. She didn't want to see me. I said, no, I have to see you, because I wanted to tell her about this book. So she said okay I think she keeps some distance from many people just so she can have her own life.
O: In that moment she refused you I think she was tired of thinking about people. . . . (inaudible)
DC: She saw me. Then I told her I wanted to write this book and she was very enthusiastic in supporting the idea. And in Japan we talked many hours, in Japanese. She was so happy to speak Japanese. She was very surprised that I could talk with her in Japanese. I had been there a week, talking Japanese all day, so I could remember a little. I had many many hours with her.
O: (inaudible) . . . It could have been like that. I think she's happy now. She did experience a lot. But she did sacrifice a lot to be in the United States.
DC: What did she sacrifice to be here?
O: I think she is the one who sacrificed herself. She put the mind into, I have to do this. . . . My husband did that. I have to do this. (lots of inaudible talk about Mitsu having to do this) She accomplished a lot. . . . I have to stay here. That is important to her. Important. Everyone at Zen Center, Roshi's wife was still here, is important. And she thinks it is. I have to stay here. Yes, I understand. It's very important. If you sacrifice too much, you might give up sometimes. That's the time she probably thought, I have to leave, and she left.
DC: She was here 30 years.
O: Same time I was here. She should write a book. I'll bet she's going to write a book. She's capable. And she's very very intelligent person. I don't know why, she really . . . (?) . . . She should (shouldn't?) get married with my father. If she went on her way (?) . . . she could be a very famous person.
DC: You think she's going to write a book now?
O: She started work to do it.
I'm trying to figure out what your father did during the war. There's a lot of stories, but there's no proof. He didn't go into the war. He didn't go into the army.
O: He was -- chaplain -- Buddhist priest.
DC: It's not clear why he went to China. Everybody says a different reason. Hoitsu and Mitsu have different reasons why he went.
O: Never talked about it either.
Yasumasa Amada's List of Papers with brief description. (These papers are in PDFs of Japanese [See Japanese PDFs]
- His wife, Mitsu-san said that he passed away quietly, and that as he wanted to take a bath a few hours before he died, she washed him. Now those Zen centers have been taken care of by the Americans and Mitsu-san is still there mending their koromo.
Hojo-san would be happy about it.
No.2 - This is a letter I wrote after hearing from Okusan about Shunryu-san's death in Showa 46. I sent out a photocopy of her letter with this as its cover letter to other members of the group.
- The Omimai (gifts to a sick person) that we, Takakusayama Group sent to SR [exactly what?] with Yasuko-san and Hoitsu-san who left for the States got there on time. The copy of the letter of thank you from Okusan that was received on 3/12 is attached here [?where is the letter from Okusan - dc].
- In her letter she wrote that Hojo-san expressed his appreciation of our long relationship with him. This brought me an unbearable feeling that we really have to say good-bye to him. But at the same time I wanted to congratulate him for his accomplishments. He completed the Shinsanshiki (Mountain Seat Ceremony) and the transmission of Ihon? Ihatsu[?] (the bowl?) and passing the responsibility to his (teshionikaketa - hand salt)carefully nurtured disciple, Dick Baker. He has done what he had to do. I was (hisoka ni) secretly surprised and at the same time I want to say, (yokatta desu ne) respectfully, well done and I want to wholeheartedly congratulate him.
Mrs. Suzuki was the opposite of her husband. So she did Sunday school and he kind of backed off from it up to that point.
Roger Merick sat at Sokoji back then and Janet Beatty. She was after Okusan came. Before Okusan came Suzuki would get frustrated at times because he had to clean the temple and do the shopping and cook and do the laundry. I don’t remember any woman helping him and I came every few days. I was glad he’d come because I’d been taking care of the temple for over a year since Tobase left and I was teaching at Berkeley.
from Interview with Taizan Maezumi
TM: Sure. I think it was in '59. I don't remember exactly which month [May]. I started to go to San Francisco State College to study English and one day I visited Sokoji and he was there.
But then before I went to Sokoji too, when there was Tobase Roshi and his wife.
DC: Tobase's wife? Tobase had a wife?
TM: I thought so. A lady was there.
DC: You sure? A Japanese woman?
TM: Yes but she was relative maybe, I don't know.
DC: The reason I say that, I didn't know if he did or didn't, but Sokoji asked for a married priest when Suzuki came. And Mitsu Suzuki says that's why he married her. He married her right before he came to America. She said that he had filled out that he's married on the visa application, and that Sokoji wanted a married priest because of some problem they had with the unmarried one. Suzuki and his wife Mitsu first lived together at Sokoji.
[That woman who Maezumi thought was Tobase's wife was a nun named Nazuka who helped in the temple and it seems from what I've gathered through the years that they were lovers and that some people in the congregation didn't approve and so, when he left, the congregation asked for headquarters in Japan to send a married priest to replace him so there wouldn't be that problem. - DC]
TM: And Mrs. Suzuki was there too. And she was a very charming lady, so kind.
DC: Did you get to know her much?
TM: Sure - from the first time I met her.
DC: She came in '61.
TM: Oh is that so. It's been so many years. I remember vaguely that she was there in the upper part of the temple.
Another thing that I remember is that Suzuki Roshi really cared about his wife. And she was nice to him. That was a kind of nice to see and I appreciated it the early days. I visited them after I had returned to LA. But I remember how she and I would go out and we'd drink together. Suzuki Roshi didn't drink so much and he was somehow always kind and he didn't say much.
Excerpts from interview with Koshin Ogui - Jodoshinshu priest from BCA around the corner from Sokoji, later Bishop of BCA for America
DC: Do you remember what you said at his funeral? I don't remember what you said, but someone told me you said, "Suzuki Roshi, you were a bad family man." - something like that.
KO: I used to take Mrs. Suzuki out to Japan town for dinner or to have a drink because Suzuki Roshi would be at Tassajara or busy with his students and so on and he didn't take care of his wife well. So I helped him out with that. Sometimes Mrs. Suzuki as a woman felt left out and she would call me sometimes and ask me to keep her company and suggested we go out.
She told me that she went downstairs at Sokoji to take a bath and she told him what she was going to do and he grunted an acknowledgement without paying much attention. So after she was through with her bath she went upstairs but the door was locked. She banged and banged on it and called his name over and over. So she ended up sleeping in the bathtub. Suzuki Roshi had locked up and gone to bed not noticing that she was not there. But he finally knew she was missing when he went downstairs the next morning.
She told me all sorts of stories that I put in the article that I wrote about him for the Hokubei Mainichi [that's been translated]. It's very strange - after his death was the first time I ever wrote any serious type of writing. Every morning when I woke up I'd feel like I had to write about him. And in the night sometimes I'd have a dream where I was talking to him. And I wanted to write what he'd said to me and what Mrs. Suzuki had said. That came out finally as a series on Shunryu Suzuki. The newspaper told me that people came to buy many extra copies because of my article. It was one that many people saved.
Suzuki Roshi used to enjoy samurai movies - especially Zatoichi. No one could go up to the second floor but when zazen was over he'd often come whisper to me, "Tonight I'm going to see the movie." So I'd come back for the movie and we'd go up to the balcony and we'd laugh and laugh - loudly - and Mrs. Suzuki would show up and say don't make so much noise or you'll disturb the people who paid to see the movie.
Then sometimes after the movie Mrs. Suzuki would make ochazuke for us and we would eat it. So many conversations we shared. And one time he said that in the philosophies of samurai and the yakuza, and at the bottom of the Japanese way of life, loyalty, honesty and sincerity are very much emphasized and practiced, at least in the movies. But here I can see such actual feelings among the Americans, while in Japan they remain only as formalities.
I was going to leave one time and he came to the zendo door and he had something on the inside of his robes and he whispered, "Take it, take it," and it was a can of soy sauce. I didn't have a place to hide it so I took it from him and started to walk downstairs and leave with it but I got caught by Mrs. Suzuki who said, "No no no, you can't take that: Obon is not over yet and the people who gave that will expect to see it on the altar." Suzuki Roshi just stood there scratching his head and smiling. But he thought I might need it so he tried to give it to me.
Later on Mrs. Suzuki said that she realized his balance and compassionate heart. She realized how he gave her silent support even after his death. And his students supported her.
Excerpts from interview with Eido Shimano
ER: To continue the Suzuki Roshi’s stories. The next one is we were doing sesshin outside of San Francisco and Suzuki Roshi had just spent 90 days at Tassajara doing sesshin [DC: actually he’d just been there during the summer guest season.] and his wife was quite upset and was complaining to us. The day came and she went to pick him up with another student. [DC: That’s not really what happened. She was at Tassajara. Yvonne just went to pick them up. But anyway he didn’t know because he saw them on their way back.] On their way they came to see what we were doing in sesshin. This is another impressive act, because the dharma teacher respects dharmic activity even though he was on his way back to San Francisco. He came to our place to spend a couple of hours with Soen Roshi and Yasutani Roshi. That effort was – unforgettable.
DC: When you came, in terms of chronology, when Suzuki Roshi came and saw you and Soen Roshi at that sesshin, that was in San Juan Bautista, and he was on his way back to San Francisco from Tassajara in August of 1971.
ER: What I remember is his wife complained about sitting zazen.
DC: She was just complaining about him going to morning zazen and evening zazen at Tassajara. There were two periods of each.
ER: I remember vividly his wife complaining. She said he’s been at Tassajara for three months.
[Not really. More like six weeks that time.--DC]
The jukai lasted ten days. I was in the first or second grade. My father started his work for the kindergarten at about this time. He had nothing to do with the kindergarten till then. It was only after the war that he realized that raising children in a proper way, according to Buddhist teachings is for a better future. He invited Mitsu to be principle of the kindergarten later on. Maybe in 25 or 26 (50 or51).
HS: Priests from other temples supported his going by saying they'd look after Rinsoin while he was gone. And also I said he could go. My grandmother also said, if you've gotta go, please go. She also asked him to take Otohiro with him. Otohiro was 15 or so, in middle school. He wasn't yet married to Mitsu at that time.
DC: So he married her knowing he was leaving for the States. Mitsu got sick after the marriage?
HS: She had thyroiditis. I don't know if Mitsu was opposed. Eventually everybody including the danka agreed to his going and Suzuki Soko, his dharma brother, helped us look after Rinsoin. Seven years after he left I became the abbot. I was 27. My Shinsanshiki was in October, 1966.
Excerpt from Fred Harriman Interview with Hoitsu
When Mitsu mentioned Tohoku she meant the Tohoku region of China, which is the present politically correct name for Manchuria. He never went anywhere during the war except for the trip to Manchuria.
Excerpts from Interview with Kazuaki Tanahashi
Usually people would come to sit in the morning, then just leave, without talking. Then he would just bow. Then we'd talk at breakfast. Okusan had just arrived from Japan. She was talking about her mistakes riding on a bus and getting around. I have an impression that she had just arrived.
DC: She came in 1961. But I believe at about that time she'd been over there visiting.
Okusan [Mitsu Suzuki] attended Kishizawa lectures also.
KT: Okusan talked about him.
KT: Did you learn about his first wife who was killed? Tragic thing. Mitsu said something about the crazy monk.
KT: I went back to Japan. We [Masao Abe] had some kind of correspondence. He wrote to me. Okusan wrote to me.
KT: You are sharing the formation of myth. Projection of students. I said to Okusan, Suzuki Roshi is becoming a kami [god or spirit]. We all have this tendency.
Suzuki came in on a temporary basis. Okusan told about going to see Tobase somewhere and he was like a lord, high up, big zabuton. He was a
big guy. It might be interesting to think of the relationship. How Tobase
wanted Suzuki to come, and how he got to stay there. DC: Yamada in Shumucho is the one who asked Suzuki if
he'd like to go. They were friends. Yamada came over and visited and gave
lectures. I think I just found some old lectures maybe nobody has, from
Mike Dixon, 1965 sesshin lectures, reel to reel tape. I'm doing a tape
copying project too. I would imagine Tobase communicated with Shumucho.
Did you hear he communicated directly with Suzuki? KT: I don't know. Okusan should know about it. DC: She was very open when I was in Japan. She was very
pleased -- she didn't know I could talk Japanese with her. I can't
remember that much, but we could talk. I couldn't understand all that she
was saying, but I could ask the questions. It opened her up a lot. She
talked for hours. Do you think maybe Okusan's role is romanticized, her
position with Suzuki Roshi? KT: Their relationship was not so great. He was so
dedicated to Buddhism, so he deserted her. DC: He left her to die in Japan. KT: That's one thing, but even here. One time - in
Sokoji the bath is in the basement - she was somehow locked in there and
she couldn't get out. But Shunryu didn't notice all night. She got so mad
she just said, I'm going to get divorced and go back to Japan. That's kind
of symbolic of their relationship. DC: I know that story but I don't remember reading that
in the transcription of your tapes with her. KT: I interviewed her twice. That's a very symbolic
story about their relationship. It's typical temple wife's role. Cooking,
etc. [See Tanahashi' interviews with Mitsu Suzuki -
on her life and
on her husband.] DC: She never did it in Japan. She never lived with him
in Japan. The first time they lived together was when she came to America.
He married her in December and he left in March. He knew he was coming to
America before he married her. KT: He wanted someone to take care of the kids. DC: She didn't live at Rinso-in either. His
mother-in-law took care of the kids. There was only Otohiro in school.
Hoitsu was 27 years old. Hoitsu says his father shouldn't have just left
after the roof was fixed, but after Hoitsu’s shinsanshiki [the ceremony
wherein he became abbot]. But still Hoitsu was in college. Shunryu
couldn’t wait. That's not deserting your children. The third daughter was
at a mental institution. She was said to be a very sensitive person. After
her mother's death she got worse and worse and went into a mental
institution and hanged herself. While Suzuki was in America. And he didn't
go back when she killed herself for any service. The youngest was Otohiro.
He was in junior high school. So he did leave Otohiro. Otohiro's 50.
Basically all Suzuki Roshi was leaving was Otohiro with the grandmother to
go to America. Mitsu lived at the kindergarten. Chitose, Hoitsu’s wife,
says she was too abrasive, too difficult, to live at the temple. Too
aggressive. Too independent. Why they got married I do not understand.
Suzuki came in on a temporary basis. Okusan told about going to see Tobase somewhere and he was like a lord, high up, big zabuton. He was a big guy. It might be interesting to think of the relationship. How Tobase wanted Suzuki to come, and how he got to stay there.
DC: Yamada in Shumucho is the one who asked Suzuki if he'd like to go. They were friends. Yamada came over and visited and gave lectures. I think I just found some old lectures maybe nobody has, from Mike Dixon, 1965 sesshin lectures, reel to reel tape. I'm doing a tape copying project too. I would imagine Tobase communicated with Shumucho. Did you hear he communicated directly with Suzuki?
KT: I don't know. Okusan should know about it.
DC: She was very open when I was in Japan. She was very pleased -- she didn't know I could talk Japanese with her. I can't remember that much, but we could talk. I couldn't understand all that she was saying, but I could ask the questions. It opened her up a lot. She talked for hours. Do you think maybe Okusan's role is romanticized, her position with Suzuki Roshi?
KT: Their relationship was not so great. He was so dedicated to Buddhism, so he deserted her.
DC: He left her to die in Japan.
KT: That's one thing, but even here. One time - in Sokoji the bath is in the basement - she was somehow locked in there and she couldn't get out. But Shunryu didn't notice all night. She got so mad she just said, I'm going to get divorced and go back to Japan. That's kind of symbolic of their relationship.
DC: I know that story but I don't remember reading that in the transcription of your tapes with her.
KT: I interviewed her twice. That's a very symbolic story about their relationship. It's typical temple wife's role. Cooking, etc. [See Tanahashi' interviews with Mitsu Suzuki - on her life and on her husband.]
DC: She never did it in Japan. She never lived with him in Japan. The first time they lived together was when she came to America. He married her in December and he left in March. He knew he was coming to America before he married her.
KT: He wanted someone to take care of the kids.
DC: She didn't live at Rinso-in either. His mother-in-law took care of the kids. There was only Otohiro in school. Hoitsu was 27 years old. Hoitsu says his father shouldn't have just left after the roof was fixed, but after Hoitsu’s shinsanshiki [the ceremony wherein he became abbot]. But still Hoitsu was in college. Shunryu couldn’t wait. That's not deserting your children. The third daughter was at a mental institution. She was said to be a very sensitive person. After her mother's death she got worse and worse and went into a mental institution and hanged herself. While Suzuki was in America. And he didn't go back when she killed herself for any service. The youngest was Otohiro. He was in junior high school. So he did leave Otohiro. Otohiro's 50. Basically all Suzuki Roshi was leaving was Otohiro with the grandmother to go to America. Mitsu lived at the kindergarten. Chitose, Hoitsu’s wife, says she was too abrasive, too difficult, to live at the temple. Too aggressive. Too independent. Why they got married I do not understand.
Excerpt from Interview with Ryuho Yamada
I told Mitsu [Mrs. Suzuki, Okusan] I was very good at shiatsu and moxi and so she asked me to work on Suzuki Roshi. I learned here and there from people in Japan - I had no special training. I tried it on Okusan first so she asked me to do it on Suzuki Roshi. I did it for a couple of hours a day in the afternoon till two days before his death. He appreciated it and would say, "Oh I feel very relaxed, thank you so much." He was a dark yellowish pale. He was always cheerful. It must have been heavy for him but he was always cheerful. I worked on his back in the middle to get to his liver. Actually at that time my shiatsu was not so good but I managed and he appreciated it a lot.
Okusan was a very powerful woman. She was different from many Japanese women. She was willful and would insist on things which is not very popular in Japan. She was very positive and clear and sharp - sometimes she was too heavy. I also really enjoyed her noodles which I often ate with her. And she'd often offer me tea and coffee. I was the only other Japanese in the building and my English was not so good so she taught me how to be here in Zen Center. She said the same thing that he did: If you're serious here you won't have anything to worry about. Majime is serious and enthusiastic - including that feeling - it's very positive and became key for me. In Japan it was taken as a matter of course. But in America it was emphasized and took on a new meaning.
I gave all my time and energy to that at that time and I didn't look at what I was learning and didn't realize it till later. Suzuki Roshi and I chatted some but didn't have dharma talks. It was kind of prohibited by Mitsu. She told me not to talk to him too much.
This is a partial collection of mentions of and from Mitsu Suzuki from around cuke.com. Please send in links or notes to other examples if you wish. I searched for "mitsu" and "okusan" and looked more thoroughly in the interviews with Japanese. - dc