Up to 14 years old
Ryokyu Endo was born in Tokyo.
He lived in New York from the ages of 10 to 13 (his father was assigned to the New York branch of the Toei movie company as a manager). He went to local elementary and junior high schools and worked as an evening newspaper delivery boy in New York City, going around collecting bills and delivering newspapers. This was during the Vietnam War (1967-1969).
Posters of Woodstock were put up on all the streets in town, the song “Come Together” by the Beatles was playing on the radio, and hippies were walking around barefoot.
Ryokyu was in Washington, DC on the day Martin Luther King was assassinated and could not leave the hotel because of riots.
Immediately before Ryokyu went back to Japan, Robert Kennedy was assassinated, five years after the assassination of John F. Kennedy five years before.
15 to 18 years old
Dropped out of two high schools – joined a music band
After coming back to Japan, Ryokyu was put into a local junior high school. He couldn’t get used to school and would leave home at midnight, wandering around a park, smoking.
After graduating from junior high school, he hitchhiked around the country.
He entered Keio High School, one of the most famous private schools in Japan. However, he kept leaving home starting in the autumn of his first year of high school.
Finally, he didn’t return home and dropped out of high school. While he was away from home, he did construction labor by giving a false age to the employer.
Half a year later, he was admitted to another high school, but he kept running away from home. However, he became hard up and got a job as a guitarist in a disco band. After that, he dropped out of high school.
18 to 20 years old
A fateful encounter with Buddhism and Shiatsu
Ryokyu suffered mentally from the age of 17, with repeated self-destructive behaviors such as overdoses of painkillers and wrist cutting, and during this time he had a mysterious experience while playing music. With this as a trigger, he began to yearn for more and started exploring the world of enlightenment. After that (late in his 18th year), he started Buddhist training at a Nembutsu dojo.
He studied with a Buddhist priest who had managed to return from an attack by the Kamikaze special corps, a suicide unit. He often hitchhiked from Tokyo to visit him and stayed at the temple.
At that time, one of his band members gave him Shiatsu massage and he was so impressed by it that he became interested in Oriental medicine.
Ryokyu was living at “Seiwa-so,” which was a very well known shabby apartment in Koenji, Tokyo.
Seiwa-so was a very cheap apartment, so foreign hippies used to live there and it was there that he was introduced to the magazine Playboy.
He learned from watching other people how to do Shiatsu treatments and gave treatments to the foreigners staying at Seiwa-so. They told him that he could make money with Shiatsu treatments in the United States and Europe, so, at 20 years old, he decided to enter Shiatsu massage school.
20 to 23 years old
Experience religion – Invent a game – Encounter the founder of Meridian Shiatsu, Master Shizuto Masunaga
As a result of Nembutsu practice, Ryokyu received an overwhelming mystical experience unifying with Buddha. He decided to become a monk so that he could share his experience with other people.
After graduating from Shiatsu school, Ryokyu practised Nembutsu at a Nembutsu dojo while living in Seiwaso, Kyoto. He learned how to play violin and occasionally took French and German language lessons.
He devoted himself to working on the strategy game he invented called “Chatranga” (called “Ninja War” at present). The system of the game took ten years to complete.
He was deeply inspired when he took Master Masunaga’s class, at which he began studying Tsubos and Meridians.
23 to 27 years old
Roam around in India – Awaken to Meridian Diagnosis – Clinical practice at a mental hospital
Ryokyu intended to spend the rest of his life roaming around the world. He left Japan with a one-way air ticket and the 200,000 yen that his grandmother had left to him. After three months on a budget trip in India, passing through the Silk Road to Europe, he got malaria. He was forced to return home. He had neither a return ticket nor money, so it was a miracle that he was able to get back to Japan.
After this disappointing return back home, one of his classmates from Meridian Shiatsu class asked him to go to Ishikawa to help open his clinic. While Ryokyu was in daily clinical practice, he was able to see Ki and meridians. At the age of 26, he was awakened to Sho diagnosis.* Since then, he has been teaching Shiatsu based on meridians.
After giving lectures in Okinawa, Ryokyu was invited to a mental hospital in Nago City and asked to be an instructor and Shiatsu practitioner at the hospital for one year.
* Sho diagnosis is fundamental to all branches of Oriental medicine. It determines excess jitsu sho (part energy) or a deficiency of kyo sho (whole energy) in parts of the body or along meridians.
27 to 30 years old
Shiatsu class for Western students – Aikido practice begun
Ryokyu began to write the foundations of a book while working as a mobile Shiatsu practitioner in a hot-spring resort in Nagano. After roaming around India a couple of times, he moved to Kyoto. He started giving Shiatsu classes, mainly to Westerners.
At the time, his patients included a Kabuki actor who was a living national treasure, the former president of Nintendo, and a chief director of Kawai Prep School.
On the other hand, he continued Nembutsu practice alone and entered a specialized distance learning course at Chuo Bukkyo Gakuin (a Buddhist institute).
He attended two Aikido schools and, occasionally, practiced for four hours a day.
30 to 35 years old
Enter Buddhist priesthood – Overseas workshops – Book publication – CD release – Aikido black belt obtained
Ryokyu was ordained as a Jodo sect Buddhist priest. Large numbers of Western students attended the ceremony.
He started holding classes in Hawaii and Israel,* and was invited to lecture in Australia, at the European Shiatsu international conference, and at the North America Shiatsu meeting.
Ryokyu’s book called TAO SHIATSU was published in English abroad. After the book was published in Italian, Spanish, French, Hebrew, and German, it was published in Japan.
His second book attracted many readers in Japan.
He acquired a black belt in Aikido.
Ryokyu released his first album, “Song of Pure Land,” which presented multiple tracks of him playing all the musical instruments: flute, Chinese koto, guitar, and synthesizer. One of the songs from the album became the theme music for a radio program in Hong Kong and was broadcast ten times a day for five years.
His music aired on radio stations and TV.
* Overseas classes and workshops continued regularly in 12 countries.
Overseas support activities – Building dojos – Middle Eastern peace – Becoming head priest
In 2003, the first Tao Shiatsu world-gathering event was held at Thailand’s Pattaya Beach over a period of two weeks. There were 150 participants.
The Tokyo Tao Sangha dojo was built with the help of Sangha members. Three years later, the Kyoto Sangha dojo was built, also with the help of Sangha members.
After three wells were built in Sri Lanka, an NPO was set up. He began to establish schools for minority Bangladeshi Buddhists. Visits to Bangladesh continue; four elementary schools are now operating.
At this point in time, Ryokyu had published five books and released five CD albums and two DVD books. (At present, he has published eight books, and released seven CD albums and three DVD books.)
In 2010 he gave a lecture at a Middle Eastern peace education conference, and took a trip to Palestine for the first time, where he experienced the truth about the Middle East. Before that, he had held nine workshops, but on the Israel side only. During the time of his visit to Palestine, he participated in a demonstration on the Palestinian west coast, at Bil’in village, where he experienced the effects of a tear gas bomb.
Ryokyu gave volunteer shiatsu to a Palestinian refugee family who were living on the street because their house had been taken by the Israeli government.
He became the head priest of the Wada Ji temple.
(Picture: Giving Shiatsu on a street in East Jerusalem)
Support in the Tohoku area – Charity festival – Earth Caravan activities
While Ryokyu was holding a class in Austria, the 2011 Tohoku earthquake/tsunami disaster struck, and he immediately returned to Japan. He went to Tohoku to give volunteer shiatsu. NPO Earth Caravan sent vegetables to the stricken area twice a week for three years and continued sending Shiatsu volunteers to refugees in Kazo City twice a month. He toured the stricken area, bringing his own band to play musical performances and to give volunteer shiatsu.
For three years he held a charity festival in Kyoto to collect donations to support Tohoku. In the third year, approximately 1 million yen was collected and it was sent to the Tohoku area, Gaza, and Bangladesh.
A game he invented became an iPhone app.
For the third time, a Tao Shiatsu and Tao Sangha world event was held, and 180 participants gathered in Thailand. During the event in 2015, the 70th year after World War II, it was decided to start a world pilgrimage event called Earth Caravan. The following year he went to the Middle East and roamed around in Palestine during the Gaza aerial bombing with the hope to hold an event in the Middle East and had only ten days to find a partner for the event.
The Earth Caravan theme song “SHARE!” was created. He had musicians from 18 countries around the world record the song in their own language.
For Earth Caravan Hiroshima, he walked around Hiroshima (like he did in Palestine) to find an event partner. Earth Caravan 2015 was realized and held safely.
Hiroshima – Tokyo – Europe – Middle East
Earth Caravan events continue to be held every year in all parts of the world.
Nagasaki – Hiroshima – Tokyo – Canada – Europe – Middle East
(Picture: Earth Caravan)
Audience with Pope Francis – Flame of Hope
On March 20th, Earth Caravan carried embers of the Hiroshima atomic bomb to the Vatican and had an audience with Pope Francis. The team had Pope Francis blow out a flame lit from the embers as a symbol of the end of nuclear weapons. Setsuko Thurlow (who accepted the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of ICAN) and 22 other people from all parts of the world, including four girls (Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, and Jewish), accompanied Ryokyu Endo.
The “Flame of Hope” project begins.