Shizuko Yamamoto - one of the world's leading shiatsu instructors
I worked with Ohsawa closely. Some of my stories may give you some insight into the character of the "father of macrobiotics." I met Ohsawa when he was already over seventy years of age. He usually wore a Japanese kimono and was always very busy giving lectues. He was sometimes very cynical but his heart was always warm. We would call him "Papa." People from all over the world sent him things like cheese from France or dark sugar in blocks from the northern part of Japan. Ohsawa took meals together with his students and he would cut the normally forbidden foods and give one piece to each of us and say, "Let's share poison together."
He really loved to clean. He questioned me once if I liked to clean corners, and asked me to clean the areas that everyone else overlooked when cleaning. He never asked people to do what he would not do himself. Every morning he cleaned the stairs at his apartment. The stairwell was five stories high yet each day he cleaned the steps by hand from top to bottom. He personally never used the stairs--he had an elevator!
Although generally considered an innovative and free thinking individual in some ways he was a very traditional man. He was very much like my father who also was very traditional. But unlike my father George Ohsawa had a depth of insight and more experience. He was very active physically, spiritually, and mentally. He was such an unusual man. It is not often when you meet such a person. In fact, it is extremely rare.
When George Ohsawa died he was alone with his wife Lima Ohsawa. A friend called me and I came right away. His body was reclining and on his face was a brilliance. It apperad so clean looking. We tried to resuscitate him, to bring him back to life but we could not do anything. He was dead. His spirit had already departed.
In Japan when someone dies, you keep a vigil over him all night. Though I was the youngest student I felt I should do it. Candles were lighted and I stayed with him throughout the night. Silently I sat, feeling his presence in a room where his normally active body now remained motionless. I will never forget that experience. George Ohsawa died in April 1966. He was sevent-three years old. (1.)
Lima Ohsawa (left) and Shizuko Yamamoto on the occasion of Lima's 88th birthday
Herman Aihara - Learning From Salmon
When I attended Ohsawa's lecture meetings for the first time around 1940 I was fascinated by his philosophy of yin and yang. I started reading his books and magazines and attended more lectures and seminars. At these seminars Ohsawa served meals consisting of rice, hijiki seaweed, carrot, burdock, and red beans, cooked by his students. I didn't much like those meals and I couldn't eat such meals at home. I had no interest in brown rice. But I was so much interested in the yin yang philosophy. My classmates laughed at me when I showed my enthusiasm for this phiosophy. Some friends even worried about my mentality, because yin and yang was an old and obsolete concept in Japan. My classmates, the future engineers of Sony, Toyota, Datsun, and Toshiba, were so busy digesting 20th century Western science and technology that they had no interest whatever in an old-fashioned Oriental teaching. (Yin and Yang was considered by most intellectuals in Japan as an old principle of Chinese superstition called Eki fortunetelling.)
Francoise Riviere - #7 Diet
As concers myself, in 1956 I was so ill that a doctor gave me the 'sentence of death,' saying that I had a type of generalized cancer. I was healed by Ohsawa by practicing his method and philosophy.
As a sign of gratitude to this great benefactor, Sensei Ohsawa, I would like to pass on everything that I humbly learned and retained from this liberator of humanity, to help the sick and unhappy (as I was.) At the same time, I learned from his wife Lima and their Japanese friends: Toshi Kawagushi, Catarina Tanaka, Yukie Tabata (Nishida), Eddie Hara, Teruo Matsuda, and Clem Yoshimi. I wish to thank them publicily for their precious selfless instruction, which they offered with that charm, compassion, and exquisite delicateness of the Orient. Their knowledge enables each of us to become good, living examples of macrobiotics according to the proper order of the universe; to make others happy and thereby inspire them by our example; likewise, to become good macrobiotic 'specimens,' free and content, testimonials to the justice of this method.