He had no money for higher education. Around , he joined the Shokuiku movement, studying with Manabu Nishibata, a direct disciple of the late Sagen Ishizuka , in Tokyo. William Dufty describes the background "Nyoiti" is a variant transcription of "Nyoichi" :  The gradual introduction of sugar into the Japanese diet brought in its wake the beginning of Western diseases. A Japanese midwife , trained in the techniques of Western medicine as a nurse, fell ill and was abandoned as incurable by the Western doctors she had espoused. Three of her children died the same way. The fourth, Nyoiti Sakurazawa, rebelled at the notion of dying of tuberculosis and ulcers in his teens.
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Ohsawa linked Oriental philosophy and diet using a new version of the ancient concept of yin-yang, a unique dialectical principle, which pointed at an underlying order in the universe, beneath its apparent diversity. He taught that a traditional, balanced diet was the basis of good health, upon which true happiness and freedom rest.
He made the remarkable discovery that the age-old concept of grains as the principal food in the diet, a sacred food in virtually every traditional society, had largely vanished from the West Ohsawa In the process of introducing macrobiotics to the West, Ohsawa and his followers have played a major role in introducing traditional East Asian soyfoods as well, although the latter comprised only a part of their total message.
In this chapter we will emphasize their work as it applies to soyfoods. Our key source of information on the origins of macrobiotics and the life and work of Ohsawa is Georges Ohsawa and the Japanese Religious Tradition by Ronald E.
Kotzsch Much of our information for the rest of the chapter has come from extensive interviews with leaders of the macrobiotic movement in the U. The Roots of Macrobiotics. Ohsawa never claimed to be the founder or originator of macrobiotics a term meaning "great life or vitality".
It contends that there is a profound relationship between food, health, and disease, and that food is an important means of treating disease. The particular importance and power of cereal grains for preserving and restoring health is clearly stated. Ohsawa often quoted its admonition that "The true sage is concerned not with the cure of disease but with its prevention. The Shinto classics such as the Kojiki compiled in A. Rice and other foods have always played a key role in the annual ritual cycle.
Ekiken Kaibara was a student of Chinese literature and Oriental medicine, who also wrote about philosophy primarily Confucian , ethics, education, and natural history. In his highly influential book Yojokun Treatise on the Nourishment of Life , he described a regimen for maintaining good health by avoiding all types of self-indulgence. He encouraged people to "Eat less, sleep less, desire less," to avoid meat, and to practice a form of self-massage called do-in. Nanboku Mizuno, who lived in the mids and early s, was the father of Japanese physiognomy.
After years of study and observation as an attendant in a Japanese public bath, a barber, and a worker in a crematorium, he wrote the great Japanese classic on physiognomy, the Nanboku Soho Nanboku Method of Physiognomy , a ten-volume work published between and Sagen Ishizuka grew up and was educated at a time when Western culture, including "scientific" medicine and nutrition, was being imported into Japan.
In , for example, the Japanese government prohibited the practice of traditional medical techniques such as acupuncture, herbal medicine, and moxabustion, and established Western medicine as the official mode of treatment.
Afflicted by a kidney infection, young Ishizuka had been unable to cure himself by Western medicine, so he turned to the study of Oriental medicine. This expanded into a lifelong interest in food and health, while he served as a physician in the military. In he published the results of his studies in a voluminous work entitled A Chemical-Nutritional Theory of Long Life.
The second book was extremely popular, and was reprinted 23 times. Food is the highest medicine. Ishizuka saw Westerners as sodium-dominant people animal products are high in sodium characterized by materialism, selfishness, individualism, and a drive for sensory gratification. Upon his retirement Ishizuka devoted himself to teaching and private practice. In he and his disciples founded the Shokuyo-kai food-nourishment movement , which taught people of the problems with the new Western diet, rich in meat, sugar, and refined foods.
They urged a return to the traditional Japanese diet based on whole grains, vegetables, and soyfoods. Ishizuka saw many patients daily and cured them with food. He was renowned for his success in healing people considered incurable by standard Western methods. Thus while most Japanese were being swept away by the great tide of Westernization, gradually abandoning their own culture and traditions including their food and healing arts , Ishizuka and his associates viewed this trend critically; they attempted to borrow and synthesize only the good points, while preserving the endangered "national essence of Japan.
Manabu Nishibata, developed the basic concept that food should be chosen according to the principle of Shin-do fu-ni, meaning "the body and earth are not two. Likewise people should learn the joy of flowing with the great seasonal rhythms of the earth, choosing foods according to time and place, locally and in season, in harmony with the Order of the Universe.
The Life of George Ohsawa. George Ohsawa was born on 18 October in an eastern suburb of Kyoto, Japan. His name at birth was Joichi Sakurazawa. He had an unhappy childhood in a disenfranchised, broken samurai family. The Meiji Restoration abolished the privileges of the samurai class. His formal education stopped with a commercial high school, since he was too poor to continue.
But he was an excellent student and he continued his education on his own with great drive throughout his life, reading voraciously in several languages on a remarkably wide range of vital subjects. While Ohsawa was still a boy his mother died of tuberculosis. Her first two children daughters had both died in their infancy. Ishizuka had died two years previously and Ohsawa had not met him. Ohsawa tried the recommended diet of brown rice and cooked vegetables, with small amounts of oil and salt; soon the tuberculosis disappeared.
Ohsawa continued to practice this simple diet. After working for three years with a trading firm in Kobe, he joined the Shoku-yo group which Ishizuka had founded in In Ohsawa gave up his business career and became a full-time staff employee with the group. Until he was general superintendent and head of publications. From he was president. Here he began to use the terms yin and yang, which even Ishizuka had used broadly to refer to sodium and potassium type foods. In Ohsawa wrote a eulogistic biography of Ishizuka.
By that time he had been married and divorced either two or three times. In what was then the intellectual and cultural capital of the West, he aspired to be a cultural bridge. It was well received and he began to move in cultured circles. After a brief return to Japan in to oppose the growing militarism there, he went back to Paris and in wrote Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine, the first book on this subject in English.
His work influenced English and German acupuncture writers such as Lawson-Wood. In he returned to Japan, where he stayed for 17 long and turbulent years. He actively opposed the ultra nationalism, militarism, and expansionism, while increasing his efforts as president of the Shoku-yo group. In , however, he was asked to resign because of conflicts largely caused by his antigovernmental political activities, but also by his personality and philosophy.
In , at age 44, he married Lima, who was 38 and whose real?? She began to accompany him on many of his lecture tours teaching macrobiotic cooking.
Since much of his time had been devoted to individual health and medical consultations and to writing. The struggle with the West, he maintained, should be ideological, not military, lest Japan be defeated. Once the war began, Ohsawa promoted shoku-yo as a means to achieve victory. By a war euphoria was sweeping Japan, but by things started to get bad. Together with his wife Lima and daughter Fumiko, plus a few intimate disciples, Ohsawa retreated to a remote mountain village in Yamanashi prefecture, called Hi no Maru Haru??
His antiwar activities continued and in January he was imprisoned, questioned, and severely mistreated. After the war, Ohsawa recovered slowly. He worked to make shoku-yo the guiding principle for the reconstruction of the nation.
In he became involved with the World Federalist Movement, which was trying to seek world peace through world government. He tried to introduce his teachings on food into their program, and he began to call himself a "citizen of the world. There he began to gather and teach a small group of devoted disciples, who would later spread his teachings throughout the world. In he changed his name from Joichi Sakurazawa to George or Georges Ohsawa; George sounded like Joichi, the "s" on the end had to do with his love of France and French writers, and Ohsawa was written with the same characters as Sakurazawa, but pronounced differently.
At the same time, he first began to call his philosophy and teachings "macrobiotics. Kotzsch feels that he probably borrowed it from the 19th century German philosopher and physician, Christolph Wilhelm von Hufeland. At this time Ohsawa adopted the Western practice of having his students call him by his first name, George. He gave almost all of his students new, Westernized first names such as Cornellia, Roland, Herman, etc. The names were meant to show that the students were citizens of the world, not merely Japan.
It was a personal choice whether to use the Westernized name or not; many chose not to. Herman Aihara went to New York in Later others went to France, Brazil, Germany, and elsewhere. In October , a few days before his 60th birthday, George and Lima embarked on a new phase of their lives.
He called it the "World Journey of the Penniless Samurai. He hoped to spread macrobiotics around the world, making it a basic principle not only of personal and spiritual health but of world peace as well.
The couple first spent 18 months in India teaching and studying macrobiotics. They then went to Africa for several months, where George had a deep spiritual awakening at age 62 and later tried, unsuccessfully, to convince Dr. Albert Schweitzer of his philosophy and practice. Having healed himself of a reputedly incurable tropical disease using only macrobiotics, he and Lima then flew to Paris in early There the most important phase of his teaching and writing began.
Most of the last decade of his life was spent in Western Europe and America, were he developed a small but dedicated following. Shuzo Okada. Although Ohsawa was not involved in founding the company, he was an active supporter and associate. Muso played an important role in introducing macrobiotic foods to both Japan and the West. They first began exporting soyfoods miso and natural shoyu in , to Lima, a macrobiotic food company in Belgium see below.
Their soyfoods exports to the U. Total exports, including exports of miso and shoyu, expanded greatly during the s.
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