Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Nanao breaks the mirror

from Gary Snyder:
"Nanao has taken off to walk the star path."

When I asked Nanao once what I should say to a friend who had just lost a loved one, Nanao said "Congratulations"

So, congratulations Nanao. We love you.
Gary and Beth

Nanao photo by John Suiter


jmarsh said...

Yes, congradulations. Never met him directly but he has influenced many things in my life.

Gio said...

may you walk in light as bright as the blooming New Mexico desert which once unfolded brilliantly when you visited. I will never forget the first time I met you in the high NM mountains...I was a small child...chuckling, you offered snowmelt tea and miso soup off the wood stove...When I asked about the many drawings tacked up, you told me about surviving the mushroom cloud...this is a very strong memory and the first memory I have of you!

Rasa G said...

What a great day he chose to move on, just as the light was beginning to return to our world.
Travel in joy and peace, Nanao.

Gary Lawless said...

from John Brandi:

these drifts
too deep to walk
but you, old friend, can walk the stars

Gary Lawless said...

from Giuseppe Moretti, Po River Italia bioregionalist and farmer,"I remember walking with him by the Po riverside and my ultimate question"What will be the fate of human beings?". He stopped and after thinking about it for awhile he said "I think it will be...okay!"
We all miss him very much.

Gary Lawless said...

from Maggie Tai Tucker, Nanao's daughter:
Nanao was 86, and would have been 87 on Jan. 1.
He was in the mountains of Nagano Prefecture, the nearest town the artists' community of Oshika mura.

Gary Lawless said...

to remind people that we are creating a Nanao Sakaki collection at the UC Davis Bancroft library with letters, manuscripts, books, magazines, audio, video, photos, drawings - if you have any of these pertaining to Nanao, to give them to the library to celebrate him would be a wonderful thing -

Joaquin said...

I remember visiting you with my father , in Your bus in the mountains of Taos,NM.You were painting Japanese letters on clay Bowls. Making ink out of mushrooms.
You would give me some sour plum paste as a treat.You were far out. I remember you making noise by putting you hands under your armpits or knees, squeezing the air out and luaghing.We always looked forward to your visits.I remember you telling me about being in the war in Japan,You said "yes,me, I was the enemy!"
I remember your visits with Carol and your son Issa in Taos ,and corrales,NM.I remeber your Last poetry reading in Taos,NM and Hope I have video and pictures to share with my children while I share my memoris of you. You, the great Travelor and Wiseman will remain in my heart forever.Travel well my friend ,I will miss you!

Carol Merrill said...

For whom will red tail hawk fly?
For whom will river otter play?

Ned Mudd said...

for Nanao

old soul
radar operator
mushroom man
desert rat -
of 10,000 rivers
breaking mirrors
to find
the self
eating stars.

Ed Baker said...

oh my. i just this morning, before hearing this new wrote a (coming New Year's poem:

New Year's Day
searching the obituaries
to see if I am here..

and... I think that something Nanao wrote/translated (Issa) in his own hand which is in Inch by Inch

I have (also) used in/on a couple of my pieces/drawings..




well, an era/attitude embraced that will be sorely missed....

I like to think of it as: Crazy Teaching.

Hillel Wright said...

Denman Island, at the Yoshihara's

Vancouver, at the Zen Center

Tokyo, at Gary Snyder's reading in Ochanomizu's Confucian Temple


Anna GANGA said...



...I write...

...Io scrivo...


Matthew said...

Dear Nanao,
Thanks. You are certainly an inspiration. ("Inspirare": to breath life into.) I just learned of yr passing this morning. A note from Nelson & Masa, Ring of Bone Zendo; and from John Brandi via Jacquie. I first read yr work closely not long after moving to San Juan Ridge (an epiphany of new possibilities in poetry, imagination, living). We first met and talked at Beckwitt's. Then you turned up at sesshin. I remember staying up late, reading the 'Break the Mirror' poems by candlelight in my small cabin. And I recall something Gary wrote, how yr poems were lived into existence - "so, you can put them in your shoes and walk a 1,000 miles." Well, that's just what I've gone and done Nanao. Pound said poetry instructs, moves, and delights. And yr gestures w/ language have done just that! Yes, a new world is simply a new mind, or at least a renewed way of looking, living. After reading Nelson's letter, I walked outside and chanted the Heart Sutra and Kanzeon mantra by the creek. It started to rain good and hard. The wind picking up thru the long leaf pines. Well, I had been thinking of Chuang Tzu, where he said, "What more is needed? Everything is amply taken care of!" Very well then. Next season, when it's time to get up into the high country, I'll brew a pot of strong green tea, we'll read a few of yr poems by the fire. There's a new generation, Nanao, of young poets, homesteaders, activists, and backwoods intellectuals - we're off to the side, where we need to be - we won't soon forget yr example. I remember when we met at Miller Ranch, the cherry tree in full bloom, raining white blossoms. Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha! A deep bow of gratitude,
-Matthew O'Malley

maurizio said...

Nanao, we are so lucky to have had the opportunity to share time with you, along with Gary & Beth, traveling around when you were visiting Italy and also in Taos NM, at time of the 2000 Poetry Circus;remembering you talking and telling stories on the edge of the Rio Grande gorge. We miss you so much, but you will forever be in our hearts and minds...a thousand full moons pound in our hearts, wanting to be wild with you....
Maurizio & Elena

Gary Lawless said...

from Gary Snyder:
Last night I got word from Japan that Nanao Sakaki had suddenly died. He was living with his friends in the mountains of Nagano prefecture in a little cabin. He had stepped out of the door in the middle of the night to stargaze or pee and apparently had a severe heart attack. His friends found him on the ground the next morning. Christmas afternoon they'll hold the otsuya -- intimate friends drinking party in his room, sitting with his body -- and a cremation after that. He was one of my best friends in this lifetime.

silvana mariniello said...

con i piedi nel fango
canta sotto la pioggia
vibranti solchi sonori

della Terra


Vedo nuvole
i tuoi

Nello stagno
cerchi d'acqua
con la tua voce.

in stormo
i tuoi versi.

Silvana Mariniello

Gary Lawless said...

Sandro from Venice says:
Happy Journey...wherever he is flying to, now - and my best wishes for an eventual return of his Great Soul!
Unfortunately I'd never met him personally, but he'd been with me several times.

Gary Lawless said...

from Jim Cohn:
In Memory of Nanao Sakaki

At the time of the dropping of the atom bombs
he was listening to Bach in the radar room,
southern Japan kamikaze naval air base.
Did he see the cloud from Nagasaki?
Yes, he saw. Clear memory.

He said he was lucky to have a not so high education.
I had no chance, he said, so I could see everything
with my own eyes from childhood.
That's good education.
Especially, my father

Later he was involved in working to
change the name of Manjusri Power Plant.
How did a Buddhist hero, he asked
get his name attached to nuclear power?
Many people have such a dream
but slowly they findit's not true.

Wrote Gary Snyder: "He was living
with friends in the mountains
of Nagano prefecture in a little cabin.
He had stepped out the door
in the middle of the night to stargaze
& had a severe heart attack.

His friends found him on the ground the next morning.
Christmas afternoon they'll hold the otsuya --
intimate friends drinking party in his room --
sitting with his body.
A cremation after that."

Steve Sanfield said...

Sometime during the waning years of the last century, Nanao & I were driving from Berkeley to the San Juan Ridge. At breakfast I had told him the epic tale of the humpback whale, known in the popular imagination as "Humphrey," who had left the Pacific Ocean and swum 70 miles up the Delta, finally stopping at Cache Slough near Rio Vista. Despite all the efforts of people--from the banging of pipes to playing recordings of gathering humpbacks--he stayed where he was. Then after 24 days he swam his way back to the ocean.
"Do you know the place? Nanao asked.
"What place?"
"The place where the whale stopped."
Indeed I did. I told him I'd gone to see the whale & now there was a monument marking the spot.
"We must visit," insisted Nanao.
I told him it was out of the way & would add over an hour to our trip to the Ridge, but with his unique combination of innocence, determination, & subtle authority,
Nanao persisted, and soon we were on the River Road headed to Rio Linda.
As we scanned the now empty slough, Nanao said. "A good place,
a very good place to rest." With that, we were back in the car & on our way.

so many miles
so many hearts

this gentle typhoon
still spinning

Nana's Great Adventures said...

A Remembrance

During the tea ceremony,
Nanao sits in lotus position.

He places a sugar skull on his knees.
Then, on his head.

He says,
"Now I have two skulls."

--Sabra Basler

Anonymous said...

Our son had visited him end of October this fall, while Nanao was staying briefly at a seminar house at a university in Nagano. This is an abbreviated report:

The place where Nanao was spending the weekend was . . . sitting on top of a hill looking over a town of less than 10,000 people. There were a few people around to look after him and he had a few books to look at as well. Really not a bad spot.
As for his health, although he moves very slowly and doesn't seem to have a lot of energy he does do all his own moving, . . .he does seem to be in very good spirits. He laughs and smiles a lot.
When I met him he was reading a book from quite a few hundred years ago and understanding the writing, something he said the average Japanese person of today would find impossible.
On the other hand he does have short term memory problems. He will often ask the same question within five minutes and sometimes do that a third time. He tried to open the same locked door three or four times while I was there.One of his caretakers told me that sometimes he eats and soon after says that he hasn't. He does seem to be quite aware of his memory problems though and even laughs about that too.
Although he says he remembers all his languages I spoke to him the entire time in Japanese. However there were some occasions where he offered the English word for a Japanese word I didn't know, but it never amounted to more than a single word. His Japanese is also slightly different, slightly older, that makes sense.
There were some times when it seemed like he didn't understand, but that could because of my bad Japanese or his hearing (you have to be just a little bit loud for him to hear you). His hands also shake slightly, but it didn't prevent him from doing anything, he was even picking lint off his sweater.
So in less words, main troubles: memory, slow movement, hearing. Main strengths: capable of feeding himself, entertaining himself, going to the bathroom himself. Happy verdict: . . .doesn't need a permanent caretaker, just someone to remind him of what he did in the last five minutes, point him toward the toilet, and give him food and a futon. . . .

Etranger said...

The reading of nanao is downloadable at the following site.
His voice is great and very gentle.


Gary Lawless said...

Taylor Mignon sends this from Japan:

for Nanao Sakaki

Before Gary Snyder's Noh-chant like reading
from Mountains and Rivers Without End
I see Nanao in the bathroom
in front of the mammoth shining mirror
I say "Hey Nanao, let's break the mirror."
reflecting his poetry volume of the same name
"OK! hahaha!"
At break time
I rip off your book
and replace it with my name card
You're a counre cultural Winnebago Trickster
& I'm the raven w/yr book under my wing
When my review came out with the corny title they tagged
"Japan's Walt Whitman sings a joyous cry from the heart"
I was embarrassed but called you & we met at
The Confucian temple Yoshima Seiro
I shout "Confucius, there you are!" He laughs "Aha, yes!"
You're 75 with long white hair & beard
keen eyes as sharp as stars legs sturdy as the roots of Gaia
At a hearty pace you take me to the Green shop
of course you're Mr. Nature too
You give me your new book Let's Eat Stars
& let me read your talk for
a Snyder sympo at Stanford
in the speech you talk about returning to the way
of the primitive... Look! There's Dr. Big Black sharing the company
of Princess Kaguya, the eternal Miss Universe; Pluto
Master Mason, Three Five Jack, Kokopelli
Boddhisattva Manjusri, & there you are
Of course, you're not the Confucian Tao of Man
but the Lao Tzu of heaven & earth.

Taylor Mignon

john gian said...

the first time I met Nanao at P78 in Amsterdam
Nanao said: ..."there is no need to survive"...
ciao Nanao
John Gian

Ian Ramsey said...

Congratulations Nanao. Now you can truly travel light!

When I found out yesterday about Nanao's passing, I thought back to the many places he has led me to: Hokkaido's Shiretoko peninsula, the Sangre de Cristos, old districts in Tokyo, distant islands and tall mountains. I remembered playing music with him, his miso soup with gathered rock tripe and his love for children, tea and strong spirits.

Last night, we welcomed the New Year and Nanao's Birthday with shochu, dancing, singing and a midnight sauna where we sweated like a bunch of happy lucky idiots and read his poems by the woodstove. Outside the subzero wind blew the snow around beneath the gin-clear stars.

Nanao, we will miss you.

salvador dali parton said...

bows to tao man!

peaceful journey grandfather!

The Jesus Sufi said...

go now,play with dragons and children in the stars

MB said...

in the early '80'2 my then wife and kids lived downhill from the bus for a year, got cold together, saw winter turn to spring, wandered in the forest. he got pneumonia and stayed with us for a few snowy weeks. the stars wheeled around us in the night. he pointed to andromeda galaxy, which is visible if you know where to look (he did). just returned from australia, he had poems about the echidna, the platypus and the southern cross.

later we hooked up in northern california a few times: readings, botanical gardens, roadtrips to the north.

i will miss him, yet knowing we're all going as he has, into an unknown state, it's not lonely at all.

thanks, nanao, for living non-attachment!

alice said...

Hathaway in Pt. Reyes said...

Such fun playing with Nanao!
In El Salto mountains,
later in Pt. Reyes,
and last time in Berkeley.
“What would you like to eat, Nanao?”
“I want to eat a . .. FISH!”
So we found a restaurant, ate a big fish
complete with eyes and tail and fins.
“Now, how about an ice cream cone?”
“What is that? I have never eaten such thing.
Sure. Why not?!”
We ate strawberry ice cream cones.
First one
for 85 yr. old Nanao.

Sure. Why not?

Still playing with Nanao . . .

denis said...

nunc dimittis
to nanao

the fog clings

to the trees on the mountain—

it could be japan;
it could be new england
the sun appears now & then

through the wandering clouds
but deep snow
breaks the mirror of burnt meadow pond.

nunc dimittis—
your servant
has departed in peace,
free to roam
the bright desert stars.

Lee Bentley said...

When I was at the university studying raku ceramics I became interested in the Zen tea ceremony that was associated with the raku technique. At that time we had a visiting professor, Mr. Inue. who was a cultural treasure of Japan.
I told him of my interest and that I would like to travel to Japan to see the ceremony as I had read about it in the Zen texts. Mr Inue was very gentle in explaning that what I wanted to see had vanished in the 19th century. So I resigned myself to never see that.
Many years later (197?) I was living in Arroyo Seco and driving home from Taos I picked up a hitchhiker, it was Nanao. He was living in an abandoned schoolbus in the forest on the mountain at the top of the road. When we got as close as possible on the road, he got out and asked us if we would like some tea. So we hiked through the forest to his school bus. Nanao built a tiny fire in a hibachi he had inside this wreck of a bus and to my utter amazement did the classic Zen tea ceremony, just as I had read in my college days. The locale was as humble as could be, he carried on "brilliant" conversation while he wisked the green tea in the humble teapot, I was in awe, seeing before me what I had been told was vanished from this world.
I was blessed to know Nanao, he was the incarnation of the Zen Fool, I will look for him in the mountain mists.

Richard said...

From Richard Nelson

I remember Nanao visiting Sitka with Gary Snyder. Nanao would've been well into his seventies, and he made an indelible impression on my stepson by vaulting over a steel railing like a ramped-up teenager. Ethan has never forgotten that smiling, nimble, cheeky, bearded man.

Nanao was a master of joyful humanity. If all the smiles he created were put end-to-end,it's hard to imagine how many times they'd stretch around the world.

Tonight Nanao vaults over all of us...more nimble than ever and still smiling!

Gary Lawless said...

j j odonnell sent this for Nanao:


When not dancing
or sitting -
I as myself

fire for eyes
dust vision

every is potentially always and still
eventually wild
and crazy

come without purpose
careless... into it all
care free - body free
mind free
time free

i may have forgotten
the most important things



Gary Lawless said...

Jim McCarthy, responding to j j odonnell, sent this poem for Nanao:

Nanao had said
"No need to survive"

and it's stuck
in my mind


No need
to worry

No need
to struggle

No need
to remember

No need!
Breathe in breathe out

songs of life
songs of death
come and go
with the wind

Nanao under the stars
just like that ...
Checked out!

to survive.

peter c. said...

i only read the books but, after , lookt for Nanao everywhere i went around the world. funny, only found him when i lookt up.

Anna GANGA Gregorutti JERMANN said...

Dear Nanao I am always with You

the way

You are

always with Me.

Go Go Go in the Galaxies <3

For ever and ever <3

Love Bless Light <3

Ganga Mater
Anna GANGA Gregorutti JERMANN

10 Agosto 2016
a PairĂ² di Dolceacqua-Imperia
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