Harada Roshi was born in 1926 in Aichi Prefecture, Japan. He was ordained in 1951 at Hosshinji monastery, in Obama, Japan by the Abbot Sessui Harada. He began practicing with Zen Master Gien Inoue in 1953, and received Dharma Transmission (inka shomei) from him in 1957. In 1974, Harada was selected as Abbot of Hosshinji, one of 25 current Soto Zen training monasteries. He became Vice Chairman of the Soto Sect Conference of Teachers in 1996, was senior teacher at one of the two main monasteries, Sojiji, from 1998 to 2002. Then, he was Soto Zen Director of Europe from 2002 to 2004.
Suzuki Roshi was a Japanese Zen priest belonging to the Soto lineage who came to San Francisco in 1959 at the age of 55. He was impressed by the seriousness and quality of "beginner's mind" among Americans he met who were interested in Zen, and he decided to settle here. As more and more people joined him in meditation, San Francisco Zen Center came into being and he was its first abbot. Under his tutelage, SFZC grew into two centers: Tassajara Zen Mountain Center and City Center. Suzuki Roshi died in 1971.
Ekan Zen Study Center is named after the Soto Zen nun Ekan. Though her exact dates of birth and death are not know, Ekan lived in the 13th and 14th centuries in Japan. She was the mother of Master Keizan, Zen’s great reformer and “second founder” and she was a well respected practitioner in her own right. Ekan was the first Abbess of Jojuji temple, in present day Ishikawa prefecture in Japan. She was very devoted to Kannon, also known as Quan Yin or Avalokiteshvara, the bodhisattva of compassion. Her son Keizan said that she valued humility very highly.