Rev. Enyu Ito Biography

Rev. Enyu Ito studied Buddhism and the Religious Mind of Today’s People in Kyoto, Japan.  He undertook the study of Zen in various temples, initially in Japan and later in the United States. The Japanese temples included  Nishi Honganji and Kutooji in Kyoto, Ryutakuji in Shizuoka, Heirinji in Kasama, and  Sainennji in Ibaraki.  In New York, he studied at Kongouji.

Eventually settling in Los Gatos, California, Rev. Ito became involved with Hakone Gardens in Saratoga, California, in 1965.  Here he established Rinzai Hakone Zendo in 1997, where he continues conducting Zen classes on a weekly basis.

At Hakone Gardens, he recognized the great need for attention with the Upper House, where the zendo is hosted. Through the strong effort and physical labor of him and his wife, the Upper House was restored and has been maintained as an inviting environment for practicing zazen on Sunday mornings.

A highlight of Rev. Ito’s life occurred on the 49th day following 9/11.  In Buddhism, the 49th day following a death is considered to be a day of transformation. Memorial services on this day, which include incense and chanting, help the soul on its journey from one state to the next. Acting upon his own sense that he must go to Ground Zero in New York and perform a memorial service, Rev. Ito arrived in New York on the 49th day and found his way by “luck,” as he would call it to the fence that surrounded the smoldering and smoking site.  Approaching a police officer and indicating he was a Buddhist priest (although with only the credentials of his rokasu, incense, and chant book), he was surprisingly allowed to enter Ground Zero with the policeman as an escort. His plan to light incense and chant, however, was not possible.  Instead, sitting on the gritty ground of Ground Zero, with incense lit, he could only weep for the souls of those who had died in the tragedy of September 11, 2001.  In this respect, following his own shin (heart), he represented and wept on behalf of all of us.

Rev. Ito’s personal belief is that zazen is a remedy for the ills of modern times.  He sees that, although science, machinery, economy, and society have been evolving for thousands of years, and the modern day is quite different from ancient times, the problems of the mind and heart of man have not changed significantly. He sees the need for zazen, which offers the student the opportunity to realize one’s own inner self, and he is committed to helping the student learn how to master one’s own self.