- Shunryu Suzuki Index  - WHAT'S NEW - table of contents

Mitsu Suzuki in the Wind Bells
(publication of the San Francisco Zen Center)

more to come on this page

Mitsu Suzuki cuke page ---- All Wind Bells ----- Wind Bell Excerpts

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


From WB Vol. XI, 1972, p. 8 - article on life of Shunryu

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tn 1951 his first wife died, leaving four children, and Suzuki-roshi remained 
unmarried for seven years, his wife's mother helping him with the children. Dur: 
ing that period he continued the work on which had been interrupted 
by the war. In the construction he insisted, to his congregation's amazement. 
that the workmen use the original. 300-year-old style of carpentry. By 1957 the 
restoration of was completed. After the war Suzuki-roshi had re-founded 
two local kindergartens. and in 1958 he and the principal, Mitsu Matsuno, were 
married. She had already helped Suzuki-roshi for a long time and knew his children 
and their grandmother well. In the same year he unexpectedly accepted a three. 
year posit ion as the resident priest Of Sokoji Temple in San Francisco. He arrived 
in May of 959 and two and a half years later his wife and the youngest child of 
his first marriage, Otohiro, were sent to San Francisco supposedly to bring him 
back. They stayed, however, and Suzuki-roshi asked for another three-years' 
leave of absence. In 1968 his eldest son. Hoichi, acquiesced to the congregation 
and became the priest of Rinso-in.




WB 83 Winter


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no Rinmi 
Autunm s ky_ 
The Stuts 
dim tamp 
MITSU SUZUKI, who is known in 
Japan a rea•ntly 
tm luiku shown above. The one on the 
righc took first prize in a publi- 
by Eil-ei-ii temple, and 
the other received a high-ranking 
Bizc_ written out by Suzuku- 
sensei and translated hy Tanahushi_




WB Vol.18-2, fall, 1984

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On April 29th of this year an Ashes Ceremony for Suzuki-roshi was held at Genjo- 
ji, the Zen Center of Sonoma Mountain, with Jakusho Kwong-sensei presiding. 
Kwong-sensei was a disciple of Suzuki-roshi and the ceremony, which was 
attended by Hoitsu-roshi (Suzuki-roshi's son and Dharma heir) was intended to 
reaffirm and express the feeling of oneness which Kwong-sensei and the Genjo-ji 
sangha feel with Suzuki-roshi and his lineage. Also in attendance were the Korean 
zen master Seung Sahn of the Providence &nter, Mel Weitsman-sensei of the 
Berkeley zendo, and Mrs Mitsu Suzuki-sensei, Suzuki-roshi's widow.



WB Vol.20-2, fall, 1986 - 25th Anniversary Issue

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'I Don't Know' Zazen by Suzuki-roshi, Summer 1969 
Twenty-fifth Anniversary Section 
Facsimile of first p. 1 
Poem by Abbot Dainin Katagiri ... p. 7 
Wind Bell Beginnings ... p. 8 
Sokoji, or Other Half of Our Practice by Ananda Dalenberg . 
My Husband, Shunryu Suzuki Suzuki p. 13 
Reminiscences of Suzuki-roshi p. 16 
WindBe11CoverArt ... p. 32-33 
• P. 10


My Husband, Shunryu Suzuki by Mitsu Suzuki, p.13


Lew Richmond

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Roshi came to dinner at the Berkeley zendo with Eight or ten other older 
students and Mel stayed for the dinner. The dinner was informal but there wasn't 
much talking, as most of us were a little intimidated. Roshi didn't say anything, just 
ate. At one point Okusan gave Mel her soup bowl and said, "Sukoshi." Mel served 
up a big ladle of soup. Okusan gestured "sukoshi, Mel said, "Oh, Oku- 
san, you want some squash?" and poured the soup back. Okusan didn't under- 
stand. "Do you want some squh, Okusan?" Mel said, starting to serve up squash. 
' 'no, soup." Mel served up a big ladle of soup. "No, sukoshi." Mel stopped. 
"Squash?" Eventually Okusan got what she wanted. Roshi aympletely ignored this 
whole interchange and just continued eating. After some minutes of silent eating 
(everyone was little embarassed) Roshi looked up and said, "Zucchini."




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One day, after I had been secretary for Zen Center for some time (the office I used 
in 1967 and '68 was in a big room on the ground floor Of Sokoji where Katagiri and 
I each had a dsk — just inside the front door), Okusan came downstairs looking 
serious. She ked me to go upstairs with her to help her with something. As I 
remember this incident, it was in the afternoon when things were quiet. I went 
upstairs to the big kitchen behind the zendo and found a large bowl full of tired- 
looking corn on the cob sitting in the middle of the kitchen table. Okusan explained 
that someone had brought the corn to Suzuki-roshi and herself and that it 
about to go bad and would I please help her to eat it. So we sat down at the table 
and sat quietly chewing our way through the bowl of corn. It a long time. And 
when we were finished Okusan bowed and thanked me for helping her. And I went 
back down stairs to my desk. 
— Yvonne Rmd


p.36 - Yvonne Rand

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ame w I dnvmg Suzuki-roshi and Okusan 
Tassaiara to San 
Francisco we stopped in Pacific Grove for lunch. I sat at the table acmss from them 
and we talked about how to pru:tice with family and chfldren. Okusan said that 
Suzuki-rcshi was a goul priest and 2 reacher, but not a grx)d husband or a 
go;xl father. He, without any hestitaton, said that she w right, that it true. I 
later found out that just as Suzuki-roshi was coming to the United State, Okusan 
got seriously sick and there some thought that she would dk. He came to 
America anyway, basically leaving her in Japan to die. She pretty upset with 
him for a long time. And after she well again, she didn't want to come to the 
United States for a long time. 
He was totally single-minded. He wanted to come to America. Wife and children 
were secondary. 
He xrtainly seemed to have a hard time knowing how to work with wonrn and 
especially With children. It wc only just before he died that he told me that 
he felt that he had made a mistake in not ordaining me. And he had for several 
years been quite clear, said in so words, that he just didn't know how to go 
about training women students. 
In August 1971 1 drove back to San Francisco after he at 
Tassajara for most of the summer. He had leaured every other night during that 
time and many students commented that he had a kind of fierceness and 
at-nut his Later Okusan said that both of them knew he sick and that 
he might not live so lorlg, On the way home we stopped at a Catholic enter in San 
Juan Baptista where Scrn-rcN-1i was leading a sesshin. We arrived on the lt day, 
joined the sitting, had tea and walked a bit around the compound in the old mk- 
sion. By the time we arrived at Zen Cznter in San Francisa) Suzuki-rcshi feel- 
ing badly and also quite iaundicui. He went to bed and never really got up 
again until he died on the fourth of December — except for the short time he w 
up the week before he died when he did the MountRin Seat Ceremony with Zen- 
tatsu Baker. After a number of and examinations, Suzuki-roshi's dxtor 
to have Roshi go into the h'Spital for some rrore After Rcshi had 
Exen there a day or two I went to him. dcrtor was leaving Rhi's ru)m 
just I arrived. During the previous weeks the dxtor had thought that Suzuki- 
roshi might have hepatitis, So Okusan and I were ven' careful using 
separate dishes and moking separately and all for Suzuki-rc"hi. This made 
a change in our way of eating meals togcther, which had often meant 
some tidbit back and forth for etc. The morning I arrived at Suzuki-roshi's 
hcFpital rtx)m his lunch had just txrn brought in. He motioned to me to mme and 
sit next to him on the edge of his bed. And I crossed the mom he mouthed the 
words "I have cancer" to me. When I sat next to him he over and ttxjk a bit 
of food on his fork and put it into my mouth. As he did he said, "Now we an at 
off the same plate again." And as he said that, it was if he had just received some 
big gift. Now we no longer had to be carefr_l of antamination. And he from then 
on always talked of his cancer as his friend.



WB Vol.22-1, spring 1988 - from Early History of Zen Center by Peter Schneider

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Wind Bell: How long did you plan to stay in America? 
Suzuki-roshi: I had no idea, but I said to them, "Ill come back in three years. " 
But actually, in my mind I thought, "Ill stay a pretty long time." I did not return 
to Japan during those three years and in 1962 1 asked my friend to send my wife. 
She was managing and teaching at two kindergartens, and I wanted my friend to 
get her out. 
Wind R'll: How long did Okusan think she was coming for? 
Suzuki-roshi: She promised the kindergarten and my congregation to bring me 
back in three years. When I decided not to return to Japan even then, I had to 
resign. Fortunately they wanted my boy to be my successor. 
Grahame Petchey. It always appeared to me that he didl really know whether or 
not he would stay or go. I know he felt a very strong personal commitment to his 
students here. I remember his once having said that one of the reasons why he 
liked being in America was that he had some real students, whereas in Japan when 
he left he only had one old man sitting with him. 
Jean Ross: We felt a little more secure when Okusan came and then when he 
turned over his Japanese temple to his son. All priests have temples of their own 
and they're responsible for them. When they're absent they get a neighboring priest 
or friend to substitute for them. And of course Suzuki-roshi did that for quite 
some time before his son took over.


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Wind WII: How did you spend your time before Okusa came? 
Suzuki-roshi: First of all I had plenty of time to be with students, because I was 
around and because there were not many students. Sometimes we'd go to muse- 
ums or movies or restaurants. We had a pretty good time. But I didnt want Zen 
Center to be a kind of social club, so at the same time I tried to refrain from that 
sort of activity. I wanted us to devote ourselves to zen practice, not to eating or 
seeing movies.



WB Vol.23-1, spring, 1989

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Mitsu Suzuki Sensei, more informally known as joined her husband 
Suzuki-roshi in America in the early 1960's. She has stayed ever since, taching 
tea and sharing her life with us. This past April she celebrated her 75th birthday. 
We all wish her a "Happy Birthday/" Thank you, Okusan. 



WB Vol.25-1, 1991 - Issue featuring Mitsu Suzuki

-------------Cover calligraphy & poem, contents page, introductory page on her.
-----------Mitsu Suzuki Sensei - p.16
-----------Seventy-seven Years of My Life - by Mitsu Suzuki Sensei - P.17
-----------Excerpts from Temple Dusk - p.24
-----------Stories from Suzuki Sensei's Students - p.28 [Shunpo Blanch Hartman, Shuun Lou Hartman, Rosy Penhallow, Yvonne Rand, Michael Wenger, Marilyn McCann Coyote, Fu Nancy Schroeder, Darlene Cohen, Hekizan Tom Giradot, Edward Brown, Gregory Wood, Laurie Schley Senauke.
------------12 photos



WB Vol. 26-2, fall, 1992, p.5 - article on Della Goertz


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Della appreciated this teaching and continued to support Suzuki Roshi, both 
financially and through her commitment to practice. "There was such a sim- 
plicity and directness about Suzuki Roshi, vou felt at ease around him; I 
loved to be with him." Della became Suzuki Roshi's escort, driving him to 
the Japanese newspaper office or to the airport to pick up dignitaries. She 
accompanied him to Japanese functions in the community. When Suzuki 
arrived Della helped introduce her to life in San Francisco.


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Soon after Suzuki Roshi died, Della was invited by Richard Baker to move 
to Page Street. Soon after, she retired from teaching, at the highest teaching 
level thanks to years of outside study. Immediately she volunteered to work 
in the Zen Center offices, helping with fund-raising letters and working 
with the accreditation committee. She continued to befriend Okusan, assist- 
ing her with transportation and attending special tea ceremonies. For many 
years, She and Betty Warren have accompanied Okusan on her yearly trips 
to Tassajara.



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Pat Phelan and Della



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Tassajara Reunion 
Ninety-seven people attended the Tassajara 25th anniversary alumni re- 
union, this September 11—13 (not counting a number of Tassajara residents 
who are also alumni from way back when). 
We began with a Bodhisattva Ceremony on the lawn beneath the rising 
moon with Abbot Mel as kokyo leading the chants. We sat zazen, worked 
together, sang and told stories. Suzuki Okusan dazzled the group with a 
joyous rendition of a Japanese fishing song, and Kobun Chino Roshi guided 
us in a moving ceremony at the ashes sites of Suzuki Roshi and Katagiri Ro- 
Tassajara residents and staff supervised and joined in with cheerful patience 
and warm generosity. A fine time was had by all.




WB Vol.27-2, fall, 1993

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Going Home 
by Jeffrey 
is my final destination? 
last evening Of year 
—Mi tsu Sue uki 
In OLNOber Of this 
Center' s Sunki Rosh'. will return to her Japan 
this sim-e a resident at Street simm 
the in 
TO will is a of us 
fuve had the privilt*e 10 her Ove the it Ee like saying 
to a favorite Okus-w. 
wa, the 
guiding spirit of oe 
(or, in rainy weather. in hallway), 
Into kitcl-wn mille to iced the birds. And 
teaching, gently and quietly civilving 
TWO three I was in the at City CUIter, 
ing open when I of Suzuki 
"No, Not Smki way. This (the letter i' Sw-uki 
ROShh'S rot happy. 
I I always to the letter bat I that I 
Mrs. Suzuki, is the Of I 
1992 q Wind dEOted MB, 




WB Vol.29-1, winter, 1995 - Barbara Wenger Interview with Yvonne Rand





WB Vol.30-2, summer, 1996 -

Article on Mt. Seat Ceremony for Blanch Hartman










WB Vol.31-1, winter, 1997, p.6



WB Vol.32-2, Winter, 1998 - From a report on the Sati Conference at Stanford

on Shunryu Suzuki , May 30-31, 1998




WB Vol.33-1, spring, 1999, p.20

Children's Tea at Zen Center by Mary Watson





Excerpting the end of the Introduction







WB Vol.33-2, fall/winter, 1999, p.11

From Mel Weitsman's Introduction to Branching Streams Flow in the Darkness



 WB Vol.34-2, spring/summer 2000




WB Vol.35-1, summer, 2001, p.24







WB Vol.36-2, fall/winter, 2002



 WB Vol.38-2, summer/fall 2004, cover



From Students Remember Suzuki Roshi, David Chadwick, p.18



DC Note: Instances of mention of Mitsu Suzuki were found by searching for "mitsu" and "okusan" in All Windbells and looking through the first few years. Might have missed something.