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Ruth Ozeki Edit Profile

filmmaker , novelist , writer

Ruth Ozeki is a novelist, filmmaker and Zen Buddhist priest. She is a laureate of American Book Award. Before turning to writing she spent a number of years working in commercial television and media production.


Ethnicity: The daughter of a Caucasian-American father and Japanese mother

Ruth Ozeki was born on the 12th of March, 1956 in New Haven, Connecticut. She grew up mostly in New Haven, but also lived in Japan and worked as a documentary filmmaker for a Japanese film company.


Ruth Ozeki received a BA with a double major in English Literature and Asian Studies from Smith College in Northampton, MA, graduating summa cum laude in 1980. Then she received a Japanese Ministry of Education Fellowship to do graduate work in classical Japanese literature at Nara University in Nara.


She travelled a lot in Asia. During her stay in Japan she taught in the English Department at Kyoto Sangyo University. In 1985 Ruth Ozeki moved to New York where she began a film career as an art director, designing sets and props for low-budget horror movies. She switched to television production, and after several years directing documentary-style programs for a Japanese company, she started making her own films. Body of Correspondence won the New Visions Award at the San Francisco Film Festival and was aired on PBS. Halving the Bones, an award-winning autobiographical film. Ozeki’s films, now in educational distribution, are shown at universities, museums and arts venues around the world.

Her books are translated in many languages.


  • During her years in Japan she founded a language school.


  • Film

    • Halving The Bones: the fractured history of a skeleton in the closet

  • novel

    • My Year of Meats

    • All Over Creation

    • A Tale for the Time Being


She practices Zen Buddhism with Zoketsu Norman Fischer. Ozeki is the editor of the website Everyday Zen. She was ordained as a Zen Buddhist priest in 2010. She is affiliated with the Brooklyn Zen Center.


She began studying seriously with a Zen teacher in 2001 and was ordained in 2010. “Buddhist practice was a way of working with time and understanding time and getting some insight into time,” she said of its influence on the new book.

Ms. Ozeki and her husband, Oliver Kellhammer, an artist, live in a house built mostly from cedar and fir trees.

Quotations: “There are many answers, none of them right, but some of them most definitely wrong.” - My Year of Meats

“Life is fleeting. Don't waste a single moment of your precious life. Wake up now! And now! And now!” - A Tale for the Time Being

“I believe it doesn't matter what it is, as long as you can find something concrete to keep you busy while you are living your meaningless life.” - A Tale for the Time Being

“The past is weird. I mean, does it really exist ? It feels like it exists, but where is it? And if it did exists, but doesn’t now, then where did it go ?” - A Tale for the Time Being

“I believe that in the deepest places in their hearts, people are violent and take pleasure in hurting each other.” - A Tale for the Time Being


Ruth Ozeki is a speaker on college and university campuses. She divides her time between Brooklyn and Cortes Island, British Columbia.


  • Other Interests

    theatre, cinema, knitting socks, raising ducks


She is the only child in the family. Ruth is married to Oliver Kellhammer.

a father:
Floyd Lounsbury - United States - anthropologist , linguist , epigrapher , Mayanist scholar

Floyd Lounsbury (April 25, 1914 - May 14, 1998), one of the 20th century's most influential anthropological linguists. He taught linguistics in the department at Yale.

a mother:
Masako Yokoyama - Japanese - linguist

She was a second-generation Japanese kid in America, had little connection with her Japanese roots. In Hawaii, where she had grown up, she was sent to Christian church while her parents practiced Buddhism.

She was a stay-at-home mother. Died of cancer.

a husband:
Oliver Kellhammer - Canadian, American - writer , permaculture teacher , land artist
Oliver Kellhammer - a husband of Ruth Ozeki

Oliver Kellhammer seeks, through his botanical interventions and social art practice, to demonstrate nature’s surprising ability to recover from damage. His recent work has focused on the psychosocial effects of climate change, cleaning up contaminated soils, reintroducing prehistoric trees to landscape damaged by industrial logging and cataloging the ecology of brownfield ecologies.