The organization’s founder, Japanese philosopher, Mokichi Okada (1882-1955), was an artist and survivor of the severe tuberculosis epidemic which swept his country during the 1930’s (Light From the East, MOA Publications, 1992). While suffering disease, and experiencing the treatment sanitariums, medications and nutritional prescriptions that were available during his time, he experienced little relief. These treatments, which were modeled after the diet and Western medication regimes made popular in Germany, emphasized the use of pharmaceutical medications, total rest, and a diet emphasizing meat proteins. The agriculture methods of Japan were also influenced by the applications of chemical pesticides and fertilizers of Europe, in an effort to increase the crop yield for the war effort.
Considering the fact that he was a young man, and told by his doctors that he might not survive his health problems much longer, Mr. Okada searched for better solutions. After suffering the effects of tuberculosis, other diseases, financial problems, and the death of his young wife and infant in childbirth, he began a lengthy course of study. He felt that the total reliance upon pharmaceutical medications prescribed by Western medicine may leave residual toxins in the liver and kidneys, which would eventually weaken the human body, instead of heal it. He also felt that the chemical fertilizers sprayed on food and soil may create lasting damage to the health of the Earth and to those who consume its produce.
After several years of this study, and while facing the destruction of many parts of Japan during the Second World War, Mr. Okada felt that he needed to create a health system that would treat both the physical and spiritual “clouding” of individuals, and the planet. In order to accomplish this, he pioneered during his lifetime, a variety of organic Nature Farms, to promote the consumption of healthy foods and to purify the soil of contaminants. He also worked with volunteers, many of whom were suffering severe illnesses themselves, to construct beautiful gardens (Shinsenkyô), and art museums in Hakone, Atami and other areas of Japan. He felt that contact with nature and beauty was essential to human health, and sorely lacking in hospital settings. He also devised his energy healing method, Jôrei (Purifying Therapy) to help the human body eliminate accumulated toxins.
He created systems of care, including the notion of the Ryôin, (or “Wellness Center’), which is an institution supervised by medical professionals, offering inpatient and outpatient care. The treatments at the Ryôin centers include the Purifying Therapy, access to organic Nature-Farmed foods, horticulture therapy and garden activities, and art activities. These centers were run by donations, and the work of dedicated volunteers and staff therapists. The Zuisenkyô farms (Health Oasis Gardens) are certified organic farms which use natural compost and no chemical applications, and are used as healing centers for participants to interact with the cultivation of healthy food and soil. Healthy Life Networks are home-based community centers which offer PT treatment, organic food and art activities to neighbors and families.