shohaku okumura, founder, abbot and guiding teacher of the sanshin zen community was born in osaka, japan in 1948, attended komazawa university, and in 1970 was ordained by the late kosho uchiyama-roshi, one of the foremost zen masters of the 20th century. okumura-roshi received dharma transmission from his teacher in 1975 and shortly after, became one of the founding members of the pioneer valley zendo in massachusetts. he returned to japan in 1981, began translating the works of dogen, uchiyama, and other soto masters from japanese into english and also taught at the kyoto zen center. in 1993, he returned to the united states to teach at the minnesota zen meditation center in minneapolis, and in 1997 became director of the soto zen international center in san francisco until 2010.
today he is recognized for his unique perspective on the life and teachings of dogen zenji derived from his experience as both practioner and translator, and as a teacher in both japanese and western practice communities. these translations have been extensively published (see books tab) in numerous languages. he continues to lead sesshins (intensive meditation retreats), and genzo-e (shobogenzo study retreats on the teachings of dogen zenji) at sanshin-ji and at various other centers in the us, latin america and europe.
kosho uchiyama-roshi, shohaku okumura's teacher, is one of the most highly respected modern japanese zen masters. he was born in tokyo, japan in 1912; received a masters degree in western philosophy from waseda university in 1937; and was ordained as a soto zen priest in 1941 by kodo sawaki-roshi. upon sawaki-roshi's death in 1965, uchiyama-roshi became the abbot of antai-ji, a monastery and temple then located in kyoto, japan. in 1975, he retired from antai-ji and lived wiith his wife at noke-in, a small temple outside of kyoto until his death on march 13, 1998. he is known for his many writings (see books tab), his gentle, compassionate nature, and humble zen practice of “no games, no toys”.