What I did on my Summer Vacation

In July 2014 , Anthony Chor of Vancouver, B.C. attended the Young Buddhist International Cultural Study Exchange reunion in Berkeley, California. It was an opportunity to reunite with friends he met five years earlier on a trip to the Hongwanji in Kyoto. Anthony attended the event with the assistance of the JSBTC Living Dharma Centre.

Trip Report by Anthony Chor, YBICSE 2014

Sensei Kuwahara, Anthony Chor, and Socho Aoki

In 2009, I went to Japan on YBICSE (Young Buddhist International Cultural Study Exchange) for which I am extremely grateful for.

Five years later, I had the wonderful opportunity of going to the Jodo Shinshu Center in Berkeley for the YBICSE reunion where past YBICSE participants got to meet up with old friends and meet new ones to share experiences and create new memories.


We learned things like setting up the naijin (the obupan goes over your head to keep it away from your breath), how to properly ring the kansho (imagine a journey up and down the hills of San Francisco), and the role of the chant leader (chosho/doshin is always right).

And much like at the Hongwanji, each day started with a morning service where we used our new-found knowledge to take part in each of the services.


One final highlight of the reunion was the Mountainview Obon. In preparation, we created Obon dances. The gentlemen created a snappy, rather dapper dance to “Happy” [Pharrell Williams], while the ladies danced the story of YBICSE to “Rather Be” [Clean Bandit]. “Rather Be” quickly became the anthem of the weekend (“With every step we take, Kyoto to the Bay”).


We also made our own FAN-tastic uchiwa in preparation for the Mountainview Obon... which... was... HUGE!

With three crowded lines, a mid-center stage, and a live band – saxophones and singers included – the Obon was phenomenal! (They played this great jazz rendition of tanko bushi.)

And what is a Jodo Shinshu event without food? We shared dining experiences including a blind-mute meal where half of us were blindfolded while the other half could see but couldn't speak. That was a really neat (and quiet) experience! We also experienced delicious ramen prepared by the Senseis!

Without Aoki Socho and Kuwahara Sensei’s enthusiasm with YBICSE, none of this would have happened. The organizing committee created a fantastic, dharmarific weekend. “When I am with you, there's no place I'd rather be.”

The BCC Living Dharma Centre and the BCA Jodo Shinshu Center

Over the last half-year, Sensei Grant Ikuta of the Toronto Buddhist Church and Dr. Kawamura have travelled several times to the BCA Jodo Shinshu Center to share in the organization and development of the Honganji sponsored Correspondence Course for Shin Buddhist Studies. They were requested to find as many potential candidates as possible to take the first round of course that will constitute our “trail run” sessions.

Members of the Honganji Correspondence Course organizing committee at Jodo Shinshu Center, Berkeley California
Sensei Grant Ikuta, Dr. Leslie Kawamura and Socho Ogui (fifth from left)

The course consists of three parts, Fall Session, Winter Session, and Summer Retreat. Because the first “trail run” session will begin in January 2008, its schedule will not correspond with the regular schedule. The idea behind the trail run is, in part, to have “feed-back” from the students to find out how the course contents could be changed and/or improved. They anticipate the sessions for the “trail run” to be January to April, May through August, and September to December, with the regular sessions beginning concurrently in September of 2008.

As this course is still in its planning and development stages, if you should be interested in taking the course, please contact kawamura@ucalgary.ca for more up-to-date information that will become available after our next meeting of December 11th 2007 at the Jodo Shinshu Center, Berkeley, California.