Wednesday, May 11, 2011


I need to give credit to the person whom I got this blog idea from: my friend Krista Gillingham Rea. She too, is a convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and played a big part in my conversion. She called me one day and asked to get my permission to let her write about some of the experiences of my conversion from her point of view on her "Spiritually Speaking" blog. I told her, "Sure." This got me thinking... Maybe I should do the same thing before I forget all the details of my conversion. It's been 24 years ago that I was baptized, so I am sure I have forgotten some of the details. I read Krista's blog "Spiritually Speaking" and was inspired to create my own account of my journey in becoming a member of the LDS church and the journey it continues to take me on.

P.S. I have to put weird dates on these posts in order to get them to stay in the order that I want them to be in.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Chapter 1: Bored Buddist

I was born October 7, 1966 to Deb and Mary Kawaguchi in Ogden, Utah at the old Dee Hospital. I am the oldest of three children. I have one brother, Darren and one sister, Dawn. I am a 3rd generation (Sansei) Japanese American. My paternal and maternal grandparents immigrated to the United States from Japan.

I was raised as a Nichiren Buddist. I'm not sure how active you would have called us. I remember going to church in Salt Lake on Sundays sometimes, and then there was a time when the Reverend would come to Jichan and Bachan's (Grandpa and Grandma Kawaguchi) on Sunday and my cousins and I would attend Sunday School at their house. I never knew what I believed in as a Buddist. All of the services were spoken in Japanese. My memories of going to church were sitting in the back row of the room on folding chairs and being BORED! (We did not have a church building that we went to, it was an old 2 story Victorian house that the Reverend and his family lived in.) We would raid my mom's purse which she kept stocked up with Certs and Fruit Stripe Gum to keep us entertained during church. I think when we went to Sunday School at my grandparents the Reverend, who we called Kanai Sensei, spoke in English but I remember the chanting was in Japanese and we would sing in Japanese. I have no idea what the English translation of the songs we sang in Japanese were. I am trying to recall in my head the song we used to sing a lot. I am remembering a few of the words and the melody. In fact I am humming it right now. I'm sure you can hear me...

Now you get an idea of why I did not know what the beliefs of the Buddist religion were. My parents did not talk about or teach the Buddist beliefs to us either. This is why I really believe they do not fully understand what their religion believes in. This is just my interpretation, but I believe because the Asian culture honors their ancestors and elders that it is status quo that you maintain the religious beliefs of your parents and grandparents etc. I guess even if that means you have no idea what it is you are vowing to believe in.

This is a picture of an ojuzu that Nichiren Buddists use during their chanting, praying and visiting shrines. We would chant "Namu Myoho Renge Kyo", which I just found out means "Adoration to the Scripture of the Lotus of the Perfect Truth." I am so much more smarter now that Google was invented. I guess you could liken the use of this saying to how we use the word "Amen". I found out about the meaning of these "prayer beads" a few months ago as I was putting together a PowerPoint presentation on Japan for one of my college classes too. It's a really in depth thing so I will spare you my findings. I also have a picture of a book that is similar to the service book we used that had all the chants in it, but that I could never understand because it was the Japanese words (pronunciation) written in English. So I could say the word in Japanese but didn't know what it meant.

One thing I want to point out is that all the members of the Buddist church were Japanese. This will come to mean something in my future posts.

...... TO BE CONTINUED ......