Mitsu Suzuki

(April 23, 1914 - January 9, 2016)

Mitsu Suzuki, widow of Shunryu Suzuki

Known to those of us at the SFZC as Okusan (wife) or Suzuki Sensei.

New posts -> Memories of Mitsu, Condolences and Obituaries - new page created 1-09-16. Prior posts & links below. Send your memories of her to <dchad at cuke dot com>

Click here for Shunryu Suzuki Photo Archive images
and links to all pages on .

1-26-16 - Mitsu Film and Photo Slide Show

1-21-16 - Linda Ruth Cutts reports on Mitsu Suzuki's funeral with photos.

SFZC Mitsu Suzuki Memorial

1-09-16 - Mitsu Suzuki died on the evening of January 9th at a hospital in Shizuoka Japan where she'd only been briefly. She was 101. This is the message received from her step-grandson Shungo: "Mitsu Suzuki passed away peacefuly before two hours cause of senility." [before two hours = two hours ago. That would put the time in Japan at about 9pm.]. Farewell Okusan, my Japanese mother. - dc [Condolences sent at bottom of this page]

SFZC Obituary  and SFZC Facebook (photo from there)


An SFZC-hosted slideshow of photos from Mitsu Suzuki’s life, produced for her centennial.


Other Obituaries and Condolences below

1-06-16 - Received this message today:

Dear teachers,

A happy new year.
Mitsu Suzuki is senility and have last time of her life hospital now.
Doctor said it may be a few days but we don’t  know reality.
Please inform to important person about this situation.
Thank you.
nine bows,
Shungo [Suzuki, Mitsu's grandson]

Mitsu Suzuki in the Wind Bells - 1972 - 2004

Excerpted SFZC Wind Bell featuring Mitsu - Vol. 25, #1 - 1991 [her parts only]

More gathered from on Mitsu

Mitsu Film and Photo Slide Show page

Chronology notes

Mitsu in Crooked Cucumber

DC Memories of Mitsu

Interviews by DC in US, Sept.93, Feb.96.

Interview by DC, April '94 in Japan.

Excerpts with Mitsu from interview with members of the Takakusayamakai group of former Shunryu Suzuki students during the war.

Excerpts from Interview with Masaji Yamada

Interview on her life by Kazuaki Tanahashi

On her life with Suzuki-roshi by Tanahashi



Thanks Shunko Jamvold for sending this photo of Mitsu on 10-26-15. She's 101, still at home with her daughter.

Forgiving each other 
clear eye contact 
wisteria rain

-Mitsu Suzuki haiku

dusk.gif (85012 bytes)Suzuki, Mitsu, Kazuaki Tanahashi, Gregory A. Wood (translators). Temple Dusk: Zen Haiku.Parallax Press, 1992. [Shunryu Suzuki's wife's poetry]
Amazon link

Paul Rosenblum took this photo of Mitsu when visiting her in September, 2013.

3-27-14 - A White Tea Bowl: 100 Haiku from 100 Years of Life - by Mitsu Suzuki, edited by Kazuaki Tanahashi, translated by Kate McCandless, introduction by Norman Fischer. Rodmell Press (March 2014)

Amazon link


7-25-14 - On the Hebrew translation of Temple Duskand comments on the situation in Israel

8-22-14 - Mitsu Suzuki (Shunryu's widow) recent haiku collection, Temple Dusk Translated from the Japanese by Zenshin Eitan Bolokan, being released in Hebrew.

Mitsu Matsuno, her maiden name. From Shizuoka near Yaizu. Suzuki’s wife in America. As far as I know, they didn’t live together in Japan, married five months before he came. - dc

Here's an announcement of the release event in Israel. [Can't get this link to work on site though it works from the email received]

10-21-14 - Here are a couple of photos of Mitsu taken by Barbara Wenger at Green Gulch.

Mitsu Suzuki at Green Gulch Farm on April 13, 1989 - maybe for a Buddha's birthday event. - photo by Barbara Wenger

9-28-14 - Mitsu Suzuki, Shunryu's widow, with DC back in April when Katrinka and I visited with her. This was a couple of weeks before her 100th birthday. That's her daughter Harumi in the background. Photo by Katrinka McKay.

click on thumbnail to enlarge

See Saunters page for April 7th and 8th for report on that visit with Mitsu Suzuki, AKA Mrs. Suzuki, Suzuki Sensei, Okusan.


balloons4-26-14 - Happy 100th birthday Mitsu Suzuki



3-27-14 - A White Tea Bowl: 100 Haiku from 100 Years of Life - by Mitsu Suzuki,edited by Kazuaki Tanahashi, translated by Kate McCandless, introduction by Norman Fischer.

Amazon link

SFZC event: A White Tea Bowl: A Book Event Celebrating Mitsu Suzuki Sensei’s 100th Birthday

2013 Birthday Greetings

More from Japan - with old Suzuki students, April '94 by DC

from R O U N D A B O U T Z E N 

Excerpt from Bodhisattva Archetypes by Taigen Dan Leighton

7/06/01 - A letter from Mitsu Suzuki

9-22-13 - Mitsu Suzuki letter to DC - JP - 
Mitsu to DC - translation with JP -

4/08/03 - A letter from Mitsu on Buddha's birthday.

See Temple Dusk: Zen Haiku, a book of Mitsu Suzuki's poetry, in the bibliography.

See a few photos with Mitsu in them in the Photo Gallery.

See other interviews with members of Suzuki's family on the Interview link page. - on the right side under Suzuki

2-1-08-11 - Here's a New Year's card sent from Mitsu Suzuki, Mrs. Suzuki, Okusan, Shunryu Suzuki's widow, to Daya Goldschlag. Tozen Akiyama Roshi kindly translated it as 

"I wish you Happy New Year," literally, "I respectfully say the joy/delight of the beginning spring."

Hatsuharu no 
Gantan Mitsu Gassho

This was sent before the conventional Western New Year. In Japan they use the new calendar and the old calendar for different purposes. They have a way of not erasing the old when they add the new. The traditional New Year in Japan, China, and all Asia I guess, is early February, the beginning of spring, the traditional seasons beginning about six weeks earlier than in the West, when there's a hint of the season. Sort of like Groundhog Day being the hint of spring. - dc

4-24-13 - Posting yesterday's Happy Birthday to Mitsu Suzuki one day late. See - it's down there now as if it were posted yesterday. However, personal congrats were sent to her via Rinsoin (Shunryu Suzuki's temple in Yaizu now son Hoitsu abbot). Just couldn't remember when it was. The SFZC event for her birthday doesn't stipulate what the date is. Wasn't sure of the date. Searched and found it here. I guess that's right. I'm sure it's elsewhere on this site or in my notes but Binging was easiest.

Normally I don't think about her birthday - they aren't a big deal to Japanese in my experience - but Richard Baker at Crestone got hold of me because they wanted to send her a birthday greeting so I sent him the Rinsoin email address which is Shungo's (Hoitsu's son, Shunryu's grandson.) I don't remember hearing Shungo speak English but he's doing a good job now with English email. Crestone sent her a video of sesshin attendees singing Happy Birthday. He responded:

We received the letter, photos and movie for my grandmother.
So she received them and the letter was translated by me today.
She was very happy and inspired. 
So she was admired you and your members energetic activity.

She said to me in earnest, "It is just important zen practice for me that how to finish my life",
and said "Please come for pickup me from nirvana soon. Suzuki roshi." as a joke.

Thank you very much.

nine bows,

So I, DC, sent a birthday greeting from 1st wife Daya Goldschlag (who was close) and me to Mitsu via Shungo and received this from Shungo: She said to me by phone yesterday,

"It's just important zen practice for me that how to finish my life".

There was an event for Mitsu at the SFZC earlier in the month but don't see her birthday date mentioned.

I just noticed that on the SFZC site it says  "This April in Japan, she will be turning 99 and in our way of counting, 100" but that's not right. Unless I'm making a senior mistake, , it's the opposite: this April she will turn 99 in our way of counting and in Japan's 100. Born 1914 - same as my recently late mother, Ahdel. In Japan you're one at birth cause their one means 1st year.

balloons4-23-13 - Happy Birthday Mitsu Suzuki!


[posted on What's New]

letter from DC in Japanese to Mitsu Suzuki 2001

**********There’s much more on her on that can be found by searching within the site from the Index or What’s New pages for Okusan, Mrs. Suzuki, Suzuki Sensei, and Mitsu.

From Huston Smith's Preface to Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind.

When, four months before his death, I had the opportunity to ask him why satori didn’t figure in his book, his wife leaned toward me and whispered impishly, “It’s because he hasn’t had it”; whereupon the Roshi batted his fan at her in mock consternation and with finger to his lips hissed, “Shhhh! Don’t tell him!” When our laughter had subsided, he said simply, “It’s not that satori is unimportant, but it’s not the part of Zen that needs to be stressed.”

Suzuki, Shunryu (2011-03-15). Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind . Shambhala Publications. Kindle Edition.

Chronology Notes - adding what can find. Other dates appreciated. - dc

Born April 23, 1914 to Kaemon and Toki Sakai in Shizuoka

In 1936 she married a navy pilot, Masaharu Matsuno who died during the war.

Daughter Harumi born [1937 ?]

Hometown Shizuoka bombed and burns - 1945

Meets Shunryu 1949

January 1, 1950, she was installed as principal at the Tokiwa Kindergarten in Yaizu

In April of 1954 he had opened a branch of the Tokiwa Kindergarten near the train station. In a brand-new building with living quarters for Mitsu.

Marries Shunryu - December, 1958 (She didn't recall date when I asked her. - dc)

Shunryu leaves for America - May 21, 1959.

Sokoji member George Hagiwara visits Mitsu, urges her to come to America to join Shunryu.

Arrived in SF by boat with son Otohiro, June 14, 1961

There was a going-away party for Okusan and Phillip [Wilson] in late March of 1964. They were off to Japan, she to visit for a few months, and he to Eiheiji for a year.

October of 1966. Suzuki had been in Japan since August 25. Okusan had stayed in America to help Katagiri tend to Sokoji.

November 15, 1969 - moved with Shunryu from Sokoji to the new Page Street City Center.

Starts writing haiku - 1970

August 1970 - leaves with Shunryu for four month visit to Japan and Korea.

October 10, 1971 - Shunryu tells disciples he has terminal cancer.

December 4, 1971 - Shunryu dies, Mitsu is again a widow.

March, 1991 - retires from teaching tea ceremony

October 1991 - Temple Dusk, a book of Mitsu's haiku, published by Parallax Press.

March 2014 - A White Tea Bowl: 100 Haiku from 100 Years of Life, Rodmell Press, another haiku collection, pulbished.

Fall 1993 - Mitsu leaves San Francisco and returns to Japan to live with her daughter Harumi in Shizuoka.

Died January 9, 2016

In the process of entering here mentions of Mitsu Suzuki from - dc (1-10-16)