Thursday, March 12, 2009

Life of Kodo Sawaki Roshi

1880: Kodo Sawaki Roshi is born on the 16th of June in Tsu-shi, Mie Prefecture, to Sotaro and Shige Tada. One of seven children, three of whom die in infancy, he is given the name "Saikichi." His father, Sotaro, works as a maker of rickshaw parts.

1884: His Mother dies.

1887: His father dies and he is adopted by an uncle who dies several months later. he is then adopted by Bunkichi Sawaki, a professional gambler.

1892: Graduates elementary school.

1896: Goes to Eiheiji because of his aspiration to become a monk.

1897: He is ordained by Koho Sawada, abbot of Soshinji, Amakusa, Kyushu and practices with him for two years. He is give the monk's name "Kodo."

1899: Meets Ryoun Fueoka and practices with him in Kyoto for one year.

1900: Drafted into the army.

1904: Sent to China as an infantryman to fight in the Russo-Japanese War. He receives a near fatal wound and returns to Japan for treatment and convalescence.

1905: Again sent to China as an infantryman. Russo-Japanese War ends.

1906: Returns to Japan.

1908: begins study of Yogacara philosophy with Join Saeki at Horyuji, Nara Prefecture.

1912: Leaves Horyuji to become tanto (instructor of monks) at Yosenji, Matsusaka, Mie Prefecture.

1913: Meets Sotan Oka Roshi, abbott of Daijiji.

1914: Leaves Yosenji. Moves to Jofukuji, a small temple in Nara. He stays alone, concentrating on Zazen.

1916: Leaves Jofukuji to become koshi (lecturer) at Daijiji Sodo. Many students from the Fifth High School practice with him during this period.

1922: Leaves Daijiji (Sotan Oka Roshi dies) and moves to a small house in Kumamoto loaned to him by a friend. He names the house "Daitstsu-do."

1923: Moves to "Mannichi-zan," a house loaned to him by the Shibata family. He begins travelling around Japan to lecture and lead sesshins. He refers to this as "the moving monastery."

1935: Becomes professor at Komazawa University, lectures on Zen literature and meditation practice. He is appointed godo (overseer of practice) at Sojiji.

1949: Establishes Antaiji Shichikurin Sanzen Dojo.

1963: Quits Komazawa University because of illness and retires to Antaiji.

1965: Dies at Antaiji on December 21.


  1. Al,

    Looking forward to more. Thanks for preserving Sawaki's memory and teachings.

  2. Lauren,

    Thanks for stopping by. I hope this blog helps your practice.