Our Sensei Mas



Our sensei Mas

First our hearts go out to Janet, Mas’ children and family, and to all of us gathering here today. And thanks for the chance to share our memories of Mas on this occasion.

We’ve known Mas and Janet for a little more than 3 years. We joined San Francisco Suiseki Kai in August 2015, went to the Klamath tanseki (stone collecting trip) with the group in September, and asked Janet and Mas if we could learn to make daiza from Mas that December. They agreed, welcomed us like old friends, and Mas then showed us how to make daiza for an uncut stone, everything from technical aspects to artistic consideration, and practically carved the daiza for our little doha from Kern River. It was inspiring to observe Mas working on the daiza, with steady hands, sharp mind, and calm manner. The daiza was so elegant that when Mas suggested that I could improve it at home, Lisa told me, “No no no.” So I just sanded and stained it. When we brought our doha to the Aisekikai exhibit the next year, Nina Ragle thought some master in Japan made the daiza for us.

That was how Mas and Janet treated the new kids on the block.

We remember Janet and Mas visiting us in February 2016. After a long drive, Janet got a terrible cold or stomach flu. There Mas took care of Janet, and spooned her with roasted rice soup broth. Mas really worried for Janet, walking around with pants rolled up, one side lower than other, like a farmer. Even in that condition, Janet still had time to name our 100 pound rock El Capitan, and Mas designed the daiza for it. Talk about people crazy about rocks!

We visited Janet and Mas at least twice a year since, in August after San Francisco Suiseki Kai exhibit, and in December after setting up the Huntington Library Aisekikai exhibit. We enjoyed their beautiful suiseki collection every time. We visited the Oakland Art Museum together; or walked around Lake Merritt; or stayed home and talked about the subtle beauty of stones beyond traditional suiseki, The Tale of Genji, our love of nature, the joy of tanseki where we could be alone together, as Janet put it; or sometimes, just sat together and admired a suiseki.

Last August we still saw Mas with his copyright shy smile. He was humble and caring as always. He asked Hideko permission for us to visit her house and to see her wonderful suiseki collection. He planned to take us to see another master’s collections of suiseki and antique furniture in December. On the last day of the exhibit Mas was very busy but still cared for others, and especially Hideko because she would want to carry heavy boxes herself.

We checked Mas and Janet’s blog regularly for some nice writings after the latest entry on the “Love” Suiseki from Black Butte Lake. On September 9 for no reason we cleaned our little doha, and rubbed tung oil on the daiza. On September 10 we displayed the doha on its base, remembered our time at Mas and Janet’s house, and were amazed again by the graceful shape of the daiza Mas designed and carved most of it. The next day we got the terrible news from San Francisco Suiseki Kai. Initial shock followed by deep sorrow. After all settled, we realized the message painfully and beautifully summed up what we all had known and how we all had felt about Mas. We wanted to be there at The Garden Center with our Suiseki group on Thursday September 13 for a hug we so much needed!

We are into suiseki, are supposedly enlightened a little, and are supposedly embracing the impermanence of life. But our hearts ache! Ache so much! There in this vastness of space and time, by a stroke of luck we somehow met for a brief moment this gentle soul, and our lives are so much richer. Oh Mas! We love you. We miss you. And so does our little doha suiseki.


Chapel of the Chimes, Oakland CA – September 22, 2018



Mas Nakajima passed away

Photo by Chris Ross

Heartbreaking news. Mas Nakajima passed away on September 10, 2018. He is always in our hearts.


From the SFSK


Mas Nakajima

It is with great sadness we inform our members that Mas Nakajima passed away on September 10. We don’t know details and we don’t have any plans yet for a memorial or remembrance of Mas, which will surely happen. What we do know is that our hearts are broken. Mas has been the guiding light at SFSK for many years now, assuming the mantel from his teachers and passing along his wisdom to any who wished to talk about stones. We have known him as a kind, thoughtful sensei, always supportive of our many clumsy efforts to find true suiseki, understand them, and show them to the best advantage. We have known him as a quiet, thoughtful friend, a talented artist and craftsman and a stickler for detail. His shy smile belied an ardent passion for artistic expression and particularly suiseki. He will be so greatly missed it is difficult to put into words the loss we all feel. Our hearts and prayers go out to Janet, Mas’ children and family.

At such short notice it is difficult to know how to proceed with the planned meeting for this Thursday, but several have expressed a desire to gather as a club and as friends to share our favorite stories of being with Mas, and hug each other for comfort.

So, we will be there, the Garden Center at Lake Merritt, Thursday September 13 at 7:30.


Mas Nakajima

Chúng tôi vô cùng đau buồn báo tin cho các hội viên rằng Mas Nakajima đã qua đời ngày 10 tháng 9. Chúng tôi không biết hết chi tiết và chưa có dự tính để tưởng niệm Mas, nhưng chắc chắn sẽ có. Nhưng chúng tôi biết rằng tim mình đang tan nát. Mas là ánh sáng dẫn đường cho SFSK (San Francisco Thủy Thạch Hội) trong nhiều năm trời, tiếp nối vai trò của các vị thầy của ông và trao truyền sự minh triết của mình cho bất cứ ai muốn đàm luận về đá. Chúng tôi biết về ông như một vị thầy tốt bụng, chu đáo, luôn ủng hộ những cố gắng dù rất vụng về của chúng tôi nhằm tìm ra thủy thạch, hiểu rõ về chúng, và trình bày phía đẹp nhất ra. Chúng tôi biết về ông như một người bạn rất ít nói, ân cần, một nghệ sĩ và một nghệ nhân tài năng, khe khắt đến từng chi tiết. Nụ cười rụt rè của ông che dấu một đam mê nghệ thuật mãnh liệt và đặc biệt là thủy thạch. Đây là một mất mát lớn lao. Khó có thể diễn tả bằng lời nỗi mất mát trong lòng tất cả chúng tôi. Xin thành thật chia buồn cùng Janet, với các con của Mas và gia quyến.

Vì thời gian quá đột ngột chúng tôi không biết phải làm gì trong cuộc họp định sẵn vào thứ 5 tuần này, nhưng nhiều người muốn họp mặt, với tư cách hội viên cũng như là bạn bè để ôn lại những kỷ niệm về Mas, và để vòng tay ôm siết nhau san sẻ nỗi đau buồn này.

Vì vậy, chúng tôi sẽ đến đó, Garden Center ở Lake Merritt, thứ 5 ngày 13 tháng 9, lúc 7:30.

Obituary: https://oakland.chapelofthechimes.com/obits/masahiro-nakajima/