Letters from Shunryu Suzuki to Elsie Mitchell
Reminder notes from the edited transcriptions for who the people are
* Dainin Katagiri had just arrived [in 1964] to help Suzuki run the temple.
* Rindo Fujimoto was Elsie's teacher in Japan and one of the few Soto Zen masters that Suzuki greatly admired. Tetsuya Inoue was Elsie's original host when she first went to Japan in 1957 to record the ceremonies at Soto Zen's great training temple, Eiheiji. Fujimoto eventually left his own temple to live at Inoue's. See article on Elsie for more on them.
For more on Fujimoto, Inoue, and Katagiri see the article on Elsie and The Way of Zazen and The Way of Eiheiji.
* Don was the Mitchell's au pair at the time . He was a student at the Cambridge Music school who lived in the house, cooked, cleaned, and got to know her guests. He'd cook for them at their house on Cape Cod and for sesshins as well. He put himself through school cooking. Suzuki mentions him in a number of letters.
* Dorothy Schalk was a woman who was a student of Suzuki's on the East Coast. She wanted to start a center on her land in Northampton and Phillip Wilson did come out to be a priest there, but it didn't work out. According to Elsie, Suzuki always called her "Mrs. Chalk."
Brief Memoir of Shunryu Suzuki and New England by an historian who was there - North Hampton, Mass.
*Michiko was the daughter of a friend of Suzuki's wife. She stayed with the Mitchells for one year. She and Suzuki should have realized that the Mitchells didn't really want her to stay so long. Suzuki had told Elsie that Michiko would join them in zazen and would cook and clean. She didn't. She wouldn't take a job at a museum that a Japanese friend (Horioka) offered her, saying that she should stay with Elsie. She didn't learn English well enough to communicate well. She ran up huge phone bills with calls to her brothers in Japan. She wouldn't go out. When the Mitchells got her a TV and a bicycle the situation improved. One of her brothers got sick and she returned to Japan and when Suzuki asked if she could return Elsie eventually politely refused. When the SFZC acquired its residential practice centers, there was always room for the Suzukis to offer Michiko. She came and stayed after Suzuki's death at the City Center and at Tassajara. This was a less isolating and more demanding environment for her. She got along well with people, regularly attended zazen, and was an industrious worker. Maybe she just needed time to adjust to a new culture and surely what she learned in her year in Cambridge helped her when she came back to America.
* Richard Baker - who became Suzuki's only dharma heir in America and who became the next abbot of the SFZC following Suzuki's death.