Cloud Phoenix A Memoir of Kobun Chino Otogawa Roshi

1. Memorial For Kobun Chino Edit (1)

Kobun Chino Ototgawa Roshi had been a legend among Soto Zen priests who came to San Francisco’s Zen Center and who founded more Zen temples in California and New Mexico. His Dharma name was apt. He did seem to float and morph like a cloud as he went about his duties. He was holder of a World Wisdom Chair at Naropa University in Spring 2002 and died trying to save his daughter from drowning on July 26, 2002.


Keith Kumasen Abbott’s publications include the novels Gush, Rhino Ritz and Mordecai of Monterey; the short story collections, Harum Scarum, The First Thing Coming, and The French Girl. His Richard Brautigan memoir, Downstream from Trout Fishing in America, is his best known work of non-fiction.

A version of Abbott’s memoir of Kobun Chino Otogawa Roshi was written shortly after Kobun’s tragic death, but was not published. In 2014, a Japanese journalist and translator, Yukiko Yanagida McCarty, contacted Abbott about Kobun. She had read The Zen of Steve Jobs that included Kobun’s interactions with Jobs as his Buddhist teacher. Yukiko’s excellent questions and the resulting three-hour interview sent Abbott back into his earlier memoir. He realized there was too much left out that needed to be available in order to access Kobun’s excellence as a Zen brush master, a Buddhist teacher, and his importance to Zen in America. For the new account, go to