Soyu Matsuoka

Before Shunryu Suzuki and all the Soto Zen priests who came to America whose names we know, there was Soyu Matsuoka. He arrived in the US in 1939 and was assistant priest at Zenshuji then was a priest at Sokoji in San Francisco. - dc

See appeal for funds for a documentary below (2015) and archive project (2012).

Soyu Matsuoka Roshi official bio
from the STO (Silent Thunder Order) website.

Mt. Adams Zen Buddhist Temple, Trout Lake, WA page on Matsuoka


The STO’s Founder is Zenkai Taiun Elliston-roshi, a fully transmitted Soto Zen Priest. Elliston-roshi was ordained by Matsuoka-roshi as well as by Shohaku Okumura-roshi. As such, he is the sole living representative of the Matsuoka lineage, and holds dharma transmission from the Uchiyama lineage, with Seirin Barbara Kohn as his Preceptor from the Suzuki line. STO is thus the beneficiary of the heritage of all three lineages. Elliston-roshi, dharma heir and successor of Matsuoka-roshi and Okumura-roshi, currently leads over sixty senior students in the US, Canada, Africa, and Europe. His initial ordination took place over 30 years ago, at the Chicago Zen Buddhist Temple, which just passed its 60th anniversary in continuous operation. Roshi has also reached out to first-generation students of Matsuoka-roshi, offering a practice path to formal recognition. As Abbot, Elliston-roshi heads the Order and is its guiding teacher in the Soto tradition. Elliston teaches at the Atlanta Soto Zen Center.

7-27-2015 - Michael Elliston is now seeking contributions to a documentary film on Matsuoka.

The Soto Zen Silent Thunder Order (STO) is announcing an IndieGoGo fund raising effort to produce a documentary on the life of our founder Soyu Matsuoka Roshi. The Documentary, Silent Thunder: The Story of Soyu Matsuoka, will be filmed this fall during our Pilgrimage to Japan. Matsuoka

Soyu Matsuoka on Wikipedia

Other links:

Matsuoka sermon in tribute to slain civil rights worker Rev. James Reeb - 1965 - I think there was a service at Sokoji for Rev. Reeb. - dc

Joe Phelan, student of Soyu Matsuoka in Chicago - letter

       2012 Matsuoka Roshi Archive Project

Please email Peter Holocher at with any communication or findings regarding this archive project.

         Objective: To accrue Matsuoka roshi stories and available material in print. 

         Sources of Biographical Material

o   Interview 10-15 Zen teachers/practitioners around USA/Canada that personally studied with Matsuoka roshi. We would like to interview individuals via phone, skype, email. In addition ,if anyone has any print material that can be scanned/copied it would be wonderful.  

o   Obtain 3- 5 articles that exist that STO does not currently have at present via magazines or newspapers. Any large newspapers particularly in Chicago/Los Angeles where articles have been digitized.    

o   Internet…identify 5-10 articles…legitimacy may be questionable but could provide some insight.