Sunday, 15 September 2019

Ogata Kane 1918 - 2019

Sutras need to be chanted to send off our friends to their next destination.
Some sutras are about listing up the deceased persons life.
Born. Experienced war. Married. Kids. Grandkids. Played the role of a parent/grandparent etc. Liked to garden and cook.
The sutras read as the coffin is about to be loaded with flowers are more profound. More solemn as the casket is pushed into the furnace. Hypnotizing as the bones are picked up with chopsticks by friends and relatives and placed in the urn.
Really serious sutras about how nothing really exists but everything exists while the bone urn is placed on the alter and the journey to become a monk in the afterlife starts.
Ogata san showed up at my house when she was 85 and wanted to join the Tuesday indigo/textile class I ran for years.
At 85 I figured she wanted to drop by for an hour and dip something.
I drove to her house not far away at 8:30 in the morning to pick her up for many years.
She was often in her flower and vegetable garden. Harvesting something. Pruning something. Weeding something.
She always brought along a lacquered box with some delicious rice dish and something she made from her vegetable garden to share with the students at the house.
She made herself at home and knew the contents of every drawer and cupboard in my kitchen. She cooked for us for many years. Always delicious.
She would climb down the steep ladder into the river to collect wild greens. She would climb up the back mountain and gather mushrooms or ginger flowers.
Sometimes she sat quietly and stitched her projects.
She had immaculate taste.
She had silk farmed and wove kimono as a young woman. Her paper-like hands never forgot how to handle those thousands of fine silk filaments as she helped me warp a loom.
Sometimes she was talkative and told us stories of her life.
We all loved her and worshipped her.
Up until she was 100 years old she would come over to my house and show my foreign guests how to make noodles from scratch.
She met hundreds of foreigners. Hundreds of them.
They all loved her. She was so impressive in her demure way. She embodied a certain Japaneseness that we yearned for.
She modeled at 96 years old for a Finnish designer.
She came over and saw that I had some sexy hot tattooed Dutch guys staying at the house. She went home and changed into a kimono and came back and flirted shamelessly with these guys.
She had a sense of humor that would take us by surprise. As often happens, I would get carried away with a rather crude story..... she loved them. No prude.
We had media interviews together. We cooked and made things together and we ate together for so many years.
She sat and stitched after dinner her entire life. She stitched until a few days before her peaceful death at home.
She prepared dozens of hand stitched towels and they were handed out to wipe out tears at her funeral.
She used to buy the kits with pictures of Hello Kitty and stitch them up.
Last year at 100 she went rogue. She free stitched bright colors with random stitches on gauze and gave them to her admirers. (She was a Leo.
As my plane took off in the Southern Hemisphere on my way back to Japan she passed away. I must have seen her out the window of the plane in the blue sky above the clouds.
Our name collects karmic dirt as we move through life with our sins of greed, arrogance, selfishness......duality....
In Japan when you die a Buddhist priest gives you a new name as you move on to your training as a Buddhist monk after death. The new name is announced at the wake.
Ogata sans new name included the characters 清 and 藍。A 'pure indigo blue'. I felt honored. She showed up at 85 years old at my house to study indigo. She was born in 1918. She was 101 years old.
Thank you beautiful Ogata san. Thank you for those thousands of moments we spent together over the years.
You will always been my heart.


  1. What a beautiful tribute. May her memory be for a blessing. I will send you the photos I have of her making noodles.

  2. What a beautiful tribute to what appears to have been a beautiful soul!! Thanks for sharing your journey with this lovely lady.

  3. she will be remembered - around the world. An amazing spirit, she had something to teach us all about being human. May the Gods bless her, a new star in the pure indigo blue night sky.

  4. I was honored to meet her when I came with the first 'Indigo Sisters'. An impressive lady...and her udon where divine.
    This post is great, a very moving tribute. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  5. dismayed,sad,tearful.your words touched me deeply. be well in pure indigo land ogata san hugs to you and hiro.

  6. thank you for this post in honor of her and the special memories you and others have of her. i've enjoyed reading about her visits with you over time. she will be missed yet ever-present.

  7. A beautiful,moving tribute to your friend Ogata san.You "paint" her as a creative,quirky,amazingly talented,well-loved, beautiful soul .
    A sad Homecoming for you!
    My condolences Bryan.
    Margie san

  8. I love the last photo of you both, wonderful words, so sorry for your loss but how she enriched your lives.

  9. Thanks Bryan for your moving words. Ogata-san was an amazing and inspiring woman and I feel honoured to have met her. My condolences to you, Rob.