Jakusho Kwong was born as William Kwong in Santa Rosa, California, on November 14, 1935. In the 1950s, while studying to be an art teacher at San Jose State University, Kwong was in a car accident that nearly killed him. He took a temporary job as a postman to improve the strength in his legs, which had been badly damaged in the accident. He soon married and took a job as a sign painter, leaving school early due to clashes with his art instructor. Kwong and his wife Laura were looking for an alternative lifestyle at this time, when Bill happened upon an article in a Japanese newspaper with a feature story on Shunryu Suzuki.
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