Ruth Ozeki was born in New Haven in 1956. Her father was American and her mother Japanese. She studied English and Asian Studies at Smith College. She studied classical Japanese literature at Nara University. While in Japan, she worked at various jobs, including bar hostess and English teacher. On returning to the USA, she worked in film and television, eventually making her own films. She now lives in British Columbia where she is an editor of the Every Zen website and has been ordained a priest.