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A rare exploration into the unknown life of Alan Suzuki, the son of Daisetsu and the writer of "Tokyo Boogie Woogie"

Table of contents

Preface and Acknowledgments
A Note on the Text
 1          Hidden Origins
The Adopted Child
Daisetz’s Parents
Zen Training
Bottom of the Heap
Daisetz’s Image of Women
Daisetz’s Marriage
Beatrice and Okono
Alan in the “Daisetz Dairies”
Daisetz’s Dependant Family
2          The Juvenile Delinquent
A Prison Without Bars
Daisetz’s Fears
Daisetz’s Philosophy of Education
A Parent’s Hope
Alan Goes Wild
Womanizing Rears Its Head
Daisetz’s Views on Sexual Desire
“Confinement” on Mt. Kōya
Repeated Offenses
3          Glimpses of Brilliance
Japan-America Students Conference
Alan Discusses Zen
A Novelist’s Misunderstanding
Alan’s Second Japan-America Students Conference
Alan Discusses Japaneseness
Daisetz’s Indifference
Two Red Threads of Fate
Beatrice’s Health Takes a Turn for the Worse
A Man with Many Loves
Hidden Facts
A Mother's Death
Daisetz’s Mourning
First Marriage
To Shanghai
4          Tokyo Boogie-woogie
Reunion with Ike Mariko
“Tokyo Boogie-woogie” Is Born
Second Marriage
Alan’s Drinking
The Meeting with a Psychiatrist
A Sudden Parting
Daisetz’s Anxiety
5          Daisetz and the Beat Generation
American “Comrades”
The Basis of Transcendentalism
Early Preaching
Zen in English
Art Encounters Zen
The Birth of the Beat Generation
Recognition of Daisetzu Increases
A Change in the Life of the Great Scholar
San Francisco Renaissance
Daisetz’s Big Break
On the Road
America’s Dharma Year
The Context of the Chicago Review Zen Special Issue
The Dharma Bums
A Once-in-a-lifetime Conversation
The Beats and Zen: Parting of the Ways
6          The Undutiful Son
Alan During the 1950s
Daisetz Returns Home
The Incident
Alan’s Loneliness
Branded as an “Undutiful Son”
The Death of Daisetz
Reconsidering the Parent-Child Relationship
Great Wisdom and Great Compassion
Father and Son
AppendixFamily Tree
Map of Kyoto
Chronology Bibliography


Tokyo Boogie-woogie and D.T. Suzuki seeks to understand the tensions between competing cultures, generations, and beliefs in Japan during the years following World War II, through the lens of one of its best-known figures and one of its most forgotten. Daisetsu Teitaro Suzuki (D.T. Suzuki) was a prolific scholar and translator of Buddhism, Zen, and Chinese and Japanese philosophy and religious history. In the postwar years, he was a central figure in the introduction of Buddhism to the United States and other English-language countries, frequently traveling and speaking to this end. His works helped define much of these interpretations of ‘Eastern Religion’ in English, as well as shape views of modern Japanese Buddhism.

Against this famous figure, however, is a largely unknown or forgotten shape: Suzuki Alan Masaru. Alan was D.T. Suzuki’s adopted son and, though he remained within his father’s shadow, is mostly known as the lyricist of the iconic pop hit “Tokyo Boogie-woogie.” Perhaps due to his frequent scandals and the fraught nature of the relationship, Alan remains unmentioned and unstudied by scholars and historians. Yet by exploring the nature of the relationship between these two, Shoji Yamada digs into the conflicting memories and experiences of these generations in Japan.

Shoji Yamada is Professor in the Research Department of the International Research Center for Japanese Studies.

Tokyo Boogie-woogie and D.T. Suzuki combines a biographical account of important Buddhist thinker Daisetz Suzuki, a fascinating yet universal story of a father-son relationship, and key developments in Zen’s introduction to America into a single, compelling narrative. With an accessible writing style, the book reintroduces Daisetz as a key figure in the history of Zen in the Western world and sheds new light on his life and family.”
—Hiromu Nagahara, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

- Hiromu Nagahara, Massachusetts Institute of Technology