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Biography


 

Gengo & Yoshi Akiba

building bridges on a journey to the west...

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Biography


 

Gengo & Yoshi Akiba

building bridges on a journey to the west...

Rev. Gengo Akiba (who likes to be called “Osho-san” at home), was born in Japan in 1943. After graduating from Komazawa University in Tokyo he worked in advertising for several years. Disillusioned with the corporate 'salaryman' life, he decided to become a Zen priest, and was ordained by his uncle the late Rev. Chido Shoitsu.

In 1973, Rev. Akiba entered Eihei-ji, one of the two head temples of the Soto Zen school, where he practiced for eight years. he first left Japan to visit North America in 1982, spending one year as a visiting teacher at San Francisco Zen Center spending time at Tassajara and the City Center. It was during this time that he and Rev. Ekai Korematsu were asked to officially open Kojin-an Zendo in Oakland. After a year in the Bay Area, Rev. Akiba spent two years at the Minnesota Zen Meditation Center, with Rev. Dainen Katagiri. He then returned to Japan and served at Hosen-in outside Tokyo and at the Tokyo Betsuin branch of Eiheiji.

In 1987 Rev. Akiba returned to the United States, and the following year married Ms. Yoshi Akiba. the couple moved to their present home in Oakland in 1990 and laid plans to build a Zen temple on the grounds. This project was completed in 1994, and the following year Rev. Akiba was officially installed as the abbot of Kojin-an.

From 1997 to 2010, Rev. Akiba served both as Sokan (“Bishop”), of Sotoshu in North America, and as abbot of Zenshu-ji Temple in Los Angeles. In 2014 the office of Sokan was separated from the Abbacy of Zenshu-ji and Rev. Akiba agreed to fill the post once again.

 Rev. Akiba has ordained a number of disciples, six of whom have received transmission. He has worked very hard to facilitate stronger ties between Soto-shu in Japan and the thriving American Soto Zen community. Rev. Akiba has encouraged the development of the Soto Zen Buddhist Association and worked to broaden the membership in the group of Japanese-licensed American Zen teachers. In 2010 he led the first Soto-shu International Ango in North America. Currently, he is working on plans for a new training temple in Northern California.

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Yoshi sensei was born in Japan in 1942 and was orphaned during the War. She came to the United States in 1963 as the wife of a U.S. Naval Officer to live in Baltimore Maryland. There, she began studies at the Peabody Music Conservatory at age 19. In the late 60's She moved to Berkeley California with ten dollars in her pocket where she traded cooking and cleaning for rent while applying to study at UC Berkeley. In 1973 she and two friends, Kaz Kajimura and Hiroyuki Hori, started Yoshi’s, as a small Japanese noodle place in the Berkeley Northside neighborhood. In 1975 she completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in Fine Art at the University of California, Berkeley. Four years later, she completed a Master of Arts degree in Dance Therapy along with a Master of Fine Arts in Dance Performance at Mills College in Oakland.

In 1977, Yoshi’s restaurant expanded, moved to Claremont Avenue in Oakland, and added a jazz club. She and her collaborators also opened a small zen meditation hall and tea room in the attic of their home; it was officially dedicated as Kojin-an Zendo in 1983. In 1988, Yoshi married Rev. Gengo Akiba, and in 1990, they moved their residence and Kojin-an to its present location in the Rockridge neighborhood of Oakland. Yoshi’s Restaurant and Jazz Club expanded again and moved to Oakland’s Jack London Square in 1997. In 2008, a second restaurant and jazz club opened in San Francisco. Yoshi's is one of the most popular venues in the Bay Area, for musicians and fans alike. With the support of the jazz club, Yoshi helped to found the non-profit 51Oakland to bring music and art to under-served Oakland public schools. Yoshi-sensei keeps up her dance practice, taking daily classes at Shawl-Andersen Dance center. Yoshi also teaches occasional workshops in spiritual interpretive dance.

Yoshie Akiba has been a Senior Teacher in the Omotesenke School of Tea Ceremony since 1978. She offers private lessons in her home at Kojin An each week. She especially enjoys hosting groups of young people.