Santa Fe Living Treasures – Elder Stories

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Sensei Nakazono

Sensei Nakazono


Honored July, 1984

Sensei Nakazono

One of Santa Fe's and the country's first practitioners of non-Western medicine, Sensei Nakazono had a seemingly miraculous power to banish pain. He studied and taught acupuncture all his life. He studied macrobiotics with its originator, George Ohsawa, and encouraged his students to open natural food stores, now a local fixture. His therapies were grounded in a deep philosophy of life and human possibilities.

He came from a farm family in Southern Japan. His mother was a midwife who knew nutrition, herbs and massage and guided her son's early interest in healing arts. Coming of age in pre-World War II Japan, Sensei Nakazono was a rebel, in trouble with teachers for asking hard questions, like What is the meaning of one plus one equals two? "Unconsciously, I was asking for my freedom," he explained.

Judo was the focus of his youth. He earned his black belt at age fifteen. He learned bonesetting as part of the judo discipline. Acupuncture he resisted at first; it was not taken seriously in 1930s Japan. One night he came to the dojo with a bad toothache. His teacher took out the box of golden needles, and stuck one right into the aching nerve, twice. Within minutes of the initial shock, the pain subsided to a quite bearable vibration. From then on Sensei would spend his life studying acupuncture, first as an apprentice to Dr. Juzo Motoyama and later on, according to his own lights.

In postwar Europe he built a huge following of aikido students but didn't hesitate to leave for the US where, he felt, people were receptive to change. Camping at Hyde State Park, in the summer of 1970, he woke before daylight and heard a voice command, "You open your center here." He'd heard that confident voice before, as a soldier facing death in southern Manchuria during the war. It was a voice "you didn't argue with." In 1972 he returned to Santa Fe and opened a dojo on Alto Street, offering martial arts and acupuncture. His son Katuharu has kept up the practice.

Please see Volume 1 for complete text.
Photo ©1997 by Joanne Rijmes