Hello, everyone! I am Etsuko Mikame. I am the new Kaikyoshi Minister assigned to the San Jose Buddhist Church Betsuin. I have been looking forward to meeting all of you! And I am really grateful of your warm welcome. I am excited to be able to see you at Sunday Services and various occasions from now on.
I was originally born and raised in Shimane Prefecture Japan and grew up in a temple family as the second eldest daughter. After graduating from Waseda University, Tokyo, I worked at the medical prosthetic company in Shimane as a clerk for two years. When I was worried about the interpersonal relationships at the company, my grandmother one day told me about a Kaikyoshi minister who was originally born and raised here and assigned to a temple in Hawaii.
Not interested in temple and Buddhism at all at that time, I was just curious about the activities of Kaikyoshi Minister and wanted to know more about it. Therefore I learned buddhism at CHUBUTSU, Buddhist Seminary School in Kyoto, for two years. However, I thought it difficult for me to become a Kaikyoshi Minister, so I gave up achieving to become Kaikyoshi once.
After finishing the courses in CHUBUTSU, I worked there as a resident manager of its dormitory for three years. I taught the students about the manners of Buddhist services and supported the lives of the students living in the dorm like their mother. It was a great time with my students there.
While working at CHUBUTSU, I have engaged in guiding activity at HONGWANJI, Kyoto as a Fukyoshi Minister, which is a licensed Buddhist minister of propagation.
Fortunately I had many opportunities to talk to foreign visitors in HONGWANJI and to share the teaching of Dharma with them in English. I found many people have interest in Buddhism and seek answers to various kind of difficulties which individuals have through the teaching of dharma. I realized it was quite difficult for me to share the essence of Buddhism in English with foreign visitors because we had different perspectives and backgrounds, but at the same time it was a fun, challenging and meaningful role for me to enhance my understanding of Buddhism as well. These precious experiences and discoveries inspired me alot to become Kaikyoshi and made me desire to share the teaching with more and more people in the world.
Although my English is not good enough yet, I hope my stay here will be most enjoyable and my assignment will help in extension of the teaching of the Dharma and the growth of San Jose Buddhist Church Betsuin. I would like to put everyone’s names with faces as soon as possible!