Reverend Noritaka Imada

Reverend Noritaka Imada

Reverend Noritaka Imada, who transferred from the Tri-State/Denver Buddhist Temple to the Northern California District, became our resident minister in August of 2022.  The Buddhist Church of Florin will be sharing his ministerial services with the Buddhist Church of Lodi.

He is married to Michele Tiemi.  She speaks Japanese, Portuguese and English.  She loves to dance and used to practice Belly dancing.

They have a daughter Emma who was born in Tokyo.  She loves to play in the park and sing songs.  Loves to eat udon and anything sweet.

Reverend Imada was born in Hiroshima, Japan.  He studied Buddhism at the Otani University from 2009 to 2013. He then attended the Chuo Bukkyo Gakuin in 2013 to 2014 where he received his certification of Tokudo/Kyoshi.  He studied English at the Embassy English Long Beach after working as a Buddhist minister in the Jokyoji Buddhist Temple in Hiroshima.  In 2018 he participated in the BCA IMOP (International Ministers Overseas Program).  Worked as a temporary English guide staff at the Tsukiji Hongwanji Buddhist Temple in Tokyo before being assigned to the Tri-State/Denver Buddhist Temple in 2019 as BCA minister.

Hello everyone! Obon season is here. Obon is a day to remember our ancestors and Dharma friends who were born into the Pure Land. It is also a day to reconfirm and rejoice that we will someday meet again in the Pure Land.

At Jodo Shinshu temples in Hiroshima, Japan, if you visit the graves during the Obon season, you will find the graves colorfully decorated with paper decorations called Tōrō. Its origin dates back to the Edo period. According to one theory, when a mother loses a child, she makes colorful hand decorations and places them on the child’s grave. In the picture above, you see the colorful Tōrōs, and a grave surrounded by pure white Tōrōs. The grave with the pure white Tōrōs signifies that it is that person’s Hatsubon and was born into the Pure Land less than a year ago.

People who visit the graves write their names on a Tōrō so that the bereaved will know who visited the gravesite. When visiting the graves, we remember the deceased by cleaning the gravestone, offering flowers, and chanting sutras. The utras are the teachings of the Buddha and are messages to all living people. Because, the Buddha’s concern is for us, those who are living in this limited world, rather than those who have already been born into the Pure Land and became Buddhas.

During this Obon season, we remember those who were born into the Pure Land, and this gives us the opportunity to hear the teachings of Buddhism.

Japanese gravestones often have the words “KU E ISSHO” written on them, which means “We will meet again in one place.” We are living a limited life and one day we will have to let go of everything and leave this world. But that is not the end because there is a place called the Pure Land where we can meet again. Knowing this, is the joy of Nembutsu followers.

The Gatha, Shinshu Shuka’s lyrics express the joy of having encountered the teachings of the Nembutsu and gratitude for the infinite wisdom and compassion of Amida Buddha

“Amida you speak to me in teachings profound!
What happiness you bring to me beyond all compare!
I truly seek to follow the way you’ve laid for us,
And gratefully rejoice in your infinite embrace.” Shinshu Anthem

What is the popular food to eat on Christmas eve in Japan?

  1. KFC 🍗
  2. McDonald’s 🍔
  3. Dunkin Donut 🍩

The answer is KFC. I think this is because of the impact of the company’s advertising which makes December a very busy season for KFC in Japan.

Which quintessentially Japanese dish originates from Portugal?

1. Sushi 2. Okonomiyaki 3. Ramen 4. Tempura

Shinran Shonin was perhaps one of Honen Shonin’s most documented disciples. I would like to share a story of one of Honen Shonin’s other disciples this month. This disciple was a famous soldier named Naozane Kumagai who served the Genji Clan during the Heian period of Japanese history. During the Genpei War, one of the enemy soldiers Naozane fought and killed was of the same age as his son. He was shocked and felt the impermanence of life. After that, he decided to become a Buddhist. Naozane asked Honen Shonin, “I killed a lot of people. But if it is possible, I would like to be born into the Pure Land. If I need to kill myself with a sword to be born into the Pure Land, I am determined to do that.” Honen Shonin replied, “You don’t have to kill yourself. Just recite the Nembutsu and you can be born into the Pure Land.” It was at that moment Naozane encountered the Nembutsu teaching and became Honen Shonin’s disciple.

”Just recite the Nembutsu” was the answer from Honen Shonin and his Nembutsu teaching. “Although I am without shame and self-reproach. And lack a mind of truth and sincerity, Because the Name is directed by Amida, its virtues fill the ten quarters. “(Shinran Shonin – Wasan)

In this finite world, with our unstoppable blind passion, we have nothing that will help us reach the Pure Land, but Amida Buddha is trying to help us. Reciting the Nembutsu is not a condition for reaching the Pure Land, but a means to express gratitude for Amida’s work. There is no quota for how many times we have to recite the Nembutsu. We can recite it as much as we want every time we feel grateful. After meeting Honen Shonin, many people’s lives changed and Shinran Shonin is also one of them. Shinran Shonin encountered a lot people in his life, but in particular, his encounter with Honen Shonin seemed important to him. In Kyogyoshinsho, Shinran Shonin wrote about Honen Shonin. His words indicate that his encounter and separation from Honen Shonin were the greatest joy and greatest sadness of his life. Shinran Shonin writes in the last part of Kyogyoshinsho:

” I have collected true words so that they may help others practice the way for birth. For my wish is that those who have attained birth may lead those who come after them and those who aspire for birth may follow their predecessors, thus following one after another endlessly and uninterruptedly until the boundless sea of birth and death is exhausted. “(Shinran Shonin – Kyogyoshinsho)

As for the phrase “the boundless sea of birth and death,” Shinran Shonin often compares Blind Passion with the Sea and Amida’s Vow with the Ship. When Shinran Shonin met Honen Shonin and encountered the path of Nembutsu, he wanted to share the teachings of Nembutsu with people born in the future. Blind passion constantly bubbles up in the heart, however the desire to be born in the Pure Land does not arise. Fortunately, that is proof that you are the target of Amida Buddha’s vow.

“The ocean of birth-and-death, of painful existence, has no bound; Only by the ship of Amida’s universal Vow. Can we, who have long been drowning, Unfailingly be brought across it.” (Shinran Shonin – Wasan)

Tonkatsu and Tonkotsu are both Japanese cuisine names.

Tonkotsu [Pork-bone based soup ramen] Tonkatsu [Pork cutlet]

”Ton” means pork, “Katsu” means cutlet, and “Kotsu” means bone. I often hear the word Tonkotsu Ramen, but I don’t often hear the word Tonkatsu Ramen. They have similar pronunciations but different meanings. 🐷

What is the popular food to eat on Christmas eve in Japan?

  1. KFC 🍗
  2. McDonald’s 🍔
  3. Dunkin Donuts 🍩

Happy Spring! I hope you are all enjoying the beautiful weather.

Last month, HanaMatsuri was held, and we were surrounded by beautiful flowers and poured sweet tea on a statue of the baby Shakyamuni Buddha. We celebrated the birth of Buddha Shakyamuni and had a delicious potluck lunch. Thank you to everyone who made this service a success.

In the afternoon, Pickleball was held at the gym and about 10 people participated. We started with a light warm-up such as stretching our muscles, practiced, and played several games with different teams. I felt that everyone could enjoy it, including those with experience and beginners. We look forward to your participation.

Gōtanye, the birthday commemoration of Shinran Shonin, is scheduled for May 12th from 10am. Our founder, Shinran Shonin, was born on May 21, 1173. The Nishi Honganji Temple has held services on this day since 1874, calling it ‘’Gōtanye.’’

Shinran Shonin was born in Kyoto. His father was Arinori Hino. One of Shinran Shonin’s famous stories is about when he became a monk. This story takes place when Shinran Shonin was only 9 years old. He decided to become a Buddhist monk and went to a monk named Jien. However, by the time he arrived there, it was already night, so Jien said, “Tomorrow morning, I will hold the Tokudo ceremony for you.” Tokudo is a ritual to become a monk.

However, Shinran Shonin replied, “I can’t wait until tomorrow.” Then he read the following poem:

”Asu Arito Omou Kokoro No Adazakura, Yowa Ni Arashi no Fukanu Monokaha”

The meaning of this poem is “Cherry blossoms may be blooming beautifully here tonight, but if you take it for granted that you’ll be able to see them again tomorrow, a strong wind may blow in the middle of the night and blow them away.”

He compared his life to cherry blossoms, expressing his feelings, “I don’t know if I’ll have a life tomorrow, so I want to live my life to the fullest.”

Beautiful cherry blossoms were blooming at the Buddhist Church in Florin. The petals were starting to fall, and now you can see the green leaves. No matter how beautiful the cherry blossoms are, they must someday fall. And, the same goes for human life. This is the famous story in which, at just 9 years old, Shinran Shonin felt the impermanence of the world.

What is the most common surname in Japan?
”Tanaka, Suzuki, Sato, Toyota”
The most common surname in Japan is Sato. It is said that there are 2 million people with that last name. Suzuki seems to have the second most and Tanaka the fourth.

Tonkatsu and Tonkotsu are both Japanese cuisine names.

Please choose the English translation from 1 and 2 and fill in the blanks below.

Tonkotsu [__________]
Tonkatsu [__________]

  1. Pork cutlet.
  2. Pork-bone based soup ramen