I moved to Boston in July 1969 and spent that year in one of the ‘study houses’ in Brookline, Mass., where around 20 strangers lived together because of our common interest in macrobiotics. I make several lasting friendships from this yearlong adventure.
At that time, Michio gave weekly lectures on Tuesday nights at the Arlington Street Church in downtown Boston and often taught another class on Sunday afternoons in a private home. Further, the couple who ran the study house also gave talks two evenings a week. So there was an intensity and enthusiasm that motivated everyone.
In those days, macrobiotics was practiced in an extreme way. Pressure cooked brown rice was served daily (rarely other grains), along with miso soup, beans (rarely tofu and tempeh did not exist then), plus overcooked vegetables for the main fare. Once a week we had fish and a dessert—usually cooked fruit. Everything was very salty, so going out for a beer on the weekends was popular.
I worked first as a gardener for 6 months before getting a job as dishwasher at Sanae Restaurant. This was the first macrobiotic restaurant in Boston, seating about 40 people. An early menu shows several choices of fish with a side of cole slaw and vegetables for only $3.50. (see the entire menus at on the website HERE). It was like a school. I ‘graduated’ to short-order cook and then finally to head chef, with each position training the next person coming up. So I was trained by Richard Sandler. The pay was low, but the spirits and comaradarie were high. It was a special time.
Michio was a student and follower of George Ohsawa who is well known as the “father of macrobiotics.” In the U.S. Herman Aihara and his wife Cornelia joined Michio and Aveline Kushi as dedicated teachers of the macrobiotic way of life. During the 1970s in America the macrobiotic movement seemed radical and strange. Now the U.S. government and many advocates of healthy living and eating are on board with macrobiotic’s emphasis on grains, especially whole grains, vegetables along with primarily vegetable protein.