Kobun Chino Otogawa, Chief Priest of Jikoji, came to America in 1967 from Eiheiji Monastery in Japan. After serving as the resident teacher at Tassajara Monastery for two years, Kobun Roshi became the Chief Priest of Haiku Zendo in Los Altos, California.
In 1979, Kobun Roshi and his Bodhi students purchased the old Pacific High School property, which became Jikoji in 1983. Kobun officially registered Jikoji as a temple of the Soto Zen School (Japan) in 1984.
On July 26, 2002, in Switzerland, Kobun Roshi drowned while trying to save his daughter Maya, who also drowned. Jikoji performs an annual service in Kobun and Maya's memory.
- The name Kobun means “to extend the way,” to extend culture, language,
the word, to extend the dharma—fitting for someone bringing Zen to America.
His dharma name was Ho-un Kobun. “Ho” means phoenix, firebird, and
“un” is mystery, mystical, cloud. We could imagine the image: a bird flying in
the clouds, just a wing-tip, a bit of the tail, fleetingly visible for a moment
and then not—it’s so fitting from a student’s perspective. He traveled extensively, teaching
in many places, always coming and going. He carried the forms elegantly and formlessly.
He was often more than inscrutable, certainly not to be captured or contained by any
preconception of what a Zen teacher was. Yet in his presence you felt you encountered
someone complete. The teachings below are some traces of his flight.
Shoho Michael Newhall