Takashi Yoshikawa passed away recently just before his 82nd birthday. Many of you may not know of him since he never practiced macrobiotics. However, he had a significant impact on our community as a personal advisor to, and teacher of, many people who actively practice macrobiotics. He is, perhaps, best known for his role over the years as the advisor to John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Boy George and Barry Manilow.
Mr. Yoshikawa had a profound impact on my life. He was my teacher, my mentor and my personal friend. He was like a father to me and very caring about my children. To my lasting happiness, he honored my marriage to Susan by attending our wedding. Susan’s grandmother, his senior by 11 years, referred to him as her guru. Whenever we saw her she asked how her guru was doing. Mr. Yoshikawa commanded admiration and respect from everyone with whom he crossed paths.
Takashi Yoshikawa was the world’s foremost authority on what he re-named 9 Ki or The Ki, as opposed to 9 Star Ki. He insisted that there were no stars, only stages of energy. He believed that 9 Star Ki and Four Pillars Chinese Astrology were unnecessarily complicated and set out on a quest to simplify and adapt these teachings to modern life without sacrificing either their wisdom or their meaning.
I first met Mr. Yoshikawa—I continued to use the formal mode of address even after many years of close friendship—around 1990. At that meeting I was as impressed by his appearance, stature, impeccable manners and social graces as I was by his penetrating insights into The Ki. I knew at once that I had met an extraordinary man. Over the years he guided me to an understanding of my own nature; he pointed me toward what I needed in order to develop further; he gave me invaluable and creative insights into the essential nature of each of my children, their strengths and weaknesses. With his help, I was able to be a better father.
He was an unusual advisor in that he would not give advice unless he felt he could guarantee the results. Often his advice was brutally honest and, of course, some clients were unhappy with what he told them. When I questioned him on the subject, he said, “I can’t lie. I have to tell my clients what I see and I recommend that you do the same.”
He told me once that, according to Four Pillars Chinese Astrology, he should not have had a good life. However, by studying and practicing The Ki, that is, by continuously gathering positive energy through good timing and movement, he was able to create a uniquely satisfying life. The few times that I was privileged to travel with him I was amazed to observe that everything went his way from the moment he arrived until the moment he left. For instance, on the second night of his visit to Portugal, he received an invitation to dinner at the home of Amalia Rodrigues, the most famous singer of Fado, the traditional Portuguese music. It was on a par with having dinner with the head of state of Portugal.
We were good friends almost from the beginning. In the first few years, he would often speak to me in Japanese. Though I could understand what he was saying, I had to explain to him that I couldn’t find the words to answer him in Japanese. He would then graciously revert to English.
Around that time, I asked if he would be willing to teach me his approach. He said that he was not a good teacher, but that if I asked him a specific question he would try to answer it. In the beginning he was very open and laid out this incredible framework for me. It turned out that my approach to macrobiotic counseling and to my recommendations was similar to his approach to the Ki. We both looked at things from a number of different angles. He told me he believed this to be the key to penetration and accuracy.
As time passed, there were questions he wouldn’t answer yet, at other times, he would tell me things I had never thought to ask about but that always added another dimension to my understanding. Certain things he refused to tell me. He said that his teacher had refused to tell him and he, in turn, wouldn’t tell me, but often he would point me in a direction to discover the answer. He said that it was because his teacher wouldn’t answer some of his most important questions that he was able to develop his own approach and unique interpretation of 9 Ki. He encouraged me to develop my own interpretation as well. When I asked him about my new discoveries he usually said no, that’s not right, thus forcing me to try to penetrate the Ki even more deeply!
In all the years I knew him, I disagreed with his advice only once. A friend came to see me about someone she had met. She was not completely sure of his date of birth. I told her that without knowing it I couldn’t really advise her but I had a strong feeling that he was not the one for her and I told her to be careful. Later, having learned his date of birth, she went to see Mr. Yoshikawa. He told her that this man was the one for her, that they were a perfect combination. The next time I saw Mr. Yoshikawa he said to me, “Don’t tell people your feelings, just analyze the numbers.” He told me that when he was young he had indeed used his intuition but that now he just analyzed the numbers. I didn’t completely believe him because, on many occasions, I had experienced his powerful intuition. I learned later that the relationship hadn’t worked out, that, in fact, the man had lied about his birthday to my friend.
Even though a couple of months have passed since he left us, I find it hard to believe that Mr. Yoshikawa is gone. He now seems bigger than life. Takashi Yoshikawa was one of those vivid people who inspired awe and wonder about the nature of life itself. I know he will live on in the hearts of all of us who loved him.