Hitachi Okinawa was a disturbed elderly man who appeared in the streets of Kyoto on February 23, 1935, smelling of sake and wearing clothes made entirely of rice-cakes. By noon, police had noticed his odor, his tendency to scare pigeons, and his lewd glares at women and young boys. He claimed to be a former Zen master, and was most frequently seen occupying a public outhouse with the door open, spouting obscenities and pieces of alleged wisdom at whoever was passing by. He was obviously a danger to the public, but detectives struggled to find probable cause to take him into custody, and so a daring plan was enacted. One of the detectives would go undercover, posing as a student asking to be taught.
Not only did the investigation provide probable cause and see Okinawa locked up, but it later made the young detective rich when he published Okinawa’s teachings and sold the movie rights. Of course, Okinawa got the last laugh when he broke out of prison and stabbed the detective with a calligraphy pen, but that’s another story.
Here are the collected sayings of Hitachi Okinawa.
Okinawa: If you see the Buddha on the road, tell him to give me back my shoe. He has my shoe. The bastard took my shoe. HE TOOK MY FUCKING SHOE!
Student: Master, if I step into a river today, and the water flows past, when I step into it tomorrow, will it be the same river?
Okinawa: What river are we talking about? Is it a lake? Yes if it’s a lake. Either way, you should pee in it.
Okinawa: Inner peace is overrated. Drink this sake. Yes I know it’s really antifreeze. I ran out of sake.
Student: But master, what of the dog? Does he have the essense of Buddha?
Okinawa: GET OFF MY HAND. You are sitting on my hand.
Student: Master, what is the Buddha?
Okinawa: [untranscribable, twenty-eight-minute low humming sound]… twice baked potatoes.
Student: Master Okinawa, if you pluck the petals from a lotus flower one by one, at what point does it cease to be a flower?
Okinawa: You Korean-born stupid monkey-man, you are still sitting on my hand.
Okinawa: I have very good hearing. If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, I hear it. My ears are just that good. If yours aren’t you should probably kill yourself.
Student: What is the sound of one hand clapping?
(Okinawa slaps the student.)