by Shizuko Yamamoto
In the last year we have experienced both wonderful and tragic events. George and Lima Ohsawa often said "one thing is for certain - everything changes." Moving from one millennium to another reminds me of the inevitability of change. Learning to adjust to the ebb and flow of life is an important trait to develop and an important characteristic of health.
In 1999 Macrobiotics received the distinguished distinction of being included in the Smithsonian Institution of American history. I am very happy for this. It is now recognized as a part of American history. Reflecting on the teachings of Mr. and Mrs. Ohsawa, I never dreamed when I lived with them in Japan that such simple words of wisdom would gain such popularity in the United States. Mr. Ohsawa always said that simple ideas are universal. I understand more clearly what he meant. The overwhelming impact of simple whole foods on health and society are becoming more apparent.
This year has also brought sad news of the lost of many of my longtime friends, Harriet McNear in Florida, Clim Yoshimi in Belgium, Cecile Levin in California, and the great loss of my teacher and friend, Lima Ohsawa.
I really loved Mrs. Lima. I miss her like my own mother. She was more than just a teacher. She made me feel part of her family and she cared a great deal for us. She was an amazing woman. Those who don't really know her may think of her as a traditional Japanese woman. Always elegantly dressed in a kimono, moving slowly with grace, refined in manner, soft spoken and smiling, all signs of a traditional, submissive woman yet I think of her as a prime example of a woman of freedom.
Lima Ohsawa grew up in a traditional Japanese family. Her father was a Shinto priest and the Shinto religion played an important role in her early life. Her family was wealthy and she had a traditional education. She did what was expected of her. When the time was right, she married a doctor and bore three children.
Then things began to change. She listened to George Ohsawa speak of the Macrobiotic way and was so moved by the content of his message that she gave up her family to pursue her macrobiotic dream. She divorced her husband, left her family and eventually married George Ohsawa. If you can imagine this was not an easy thing to do in this time period. Divorce was very rare, especially for a woman who had children. Yet she had the burning desire that life should be different and she pursued her vision.
With her husband, Mr. Ohsawa, she traveled all over the world even working in Africa with Albert Schweitzer. They also taught in India, the United States and many countries of Europe. When Mr. Ohsawa died, Lima was committed to keeping the teaching alive at the Nippon Center Ignoramus in Tokyo and successfully did so until the time of her recent death at the age of one hundred. To do all that she did is remarkable, especially remarkable for a woman.
Lima was born in the nineteenth century and almost lived to see three different centuries. What changes she must have experienced. I feel Mrs. Lima is number one in the women's movement. Her evolution from traditional woman and wife to innovative thinker and model for peace and health is an example of an evolutionary movement from the traditional to the modern. She tirelessly promoted Macrobiotics as a way of living based on recognizing the importance of a central food for healthy living. This basis of whole foods, especially whole cereal grains, as necessary for humankind's health and survival is now familiar to many and recommended by several national governments. In addition to her role as a model in woman's development, I see her as instrumental in bringing about an awareness of world peace.
Model for Peace
Her ceaseless teaching of the connection between mankind and world peace should be noted by world historians. In cooking classes Mrs. Lima would say, "peace comes from what we eat." What a wonderful sight in these classes to watch her at work. The mere act of stirring a pot of vegetables would stir your heart. Her gentle hand movements together with the beauty of her fingers would inspire the possibility of a world at peace and of our joining such a place. With her all things seemed possible.
Now she is gone. Yet her spirit and teaching continue. Every time I think of her I am renewed. When I think of her I feel great love. My life has been better having known her and I am eternally grateful.