Okumura has dedicated his life to zazen and to the study and translation of Dogen's writings. Among contemporary Zen teachers, he offers the unique perspective of a practitioner who is active in both the Japanese and Western Soto Zen communities, as well as insights that come from his translation work. The two main focuses of Okumura's teaching career have been sharing the zazen practice of his teacher Kosho Uchiyama and giving extensive commentaries on the works attributed to Dogen. In addition to sesshins, he leads four intensive study retreats (called genzo-e) each year, which are dedicated to particular fascicles of Dogen's Shōbōgenzō. These take place at Okumura's home temple, Sanshinji, at other American Zen centers, and occasionally outside the United States. Okumura's wife, Yuko, serves as the sewing teacher at Sanshin Zen Community, continuing the nyoho-e style of okesa and rakusu sewing that was encouraged by Uchiyama's teacher, Kodo Sawaki. The author James Ishmael Ford describes Shohaku Okumura as both "Possibly the leading figure in the direct line of this lineage in North America..." and "...a tireless worker bridging the gap between Japanese and non-Japanese practice communities."
Okumura, Shohaku, editor (2003). Dogen Zen and its Relevance for Our Time: An International Symposium Held in Celebration of the 800th Anniversary of the Birth of Dogen Zenji, Stanford University , October 23–24, 1999. San Francisco, CA: Sōtō Zen Buddhism International Center.