Some of our earliest memories are of our Sundays in Stockton. When we were little, church was a place where we made beaded nenjus, learned how to dance Obon odoris, constructed our own Obutsudans and made lifelong friends.
While there were Buddhist churches that were closer, our family made the hour-long drive each week because our grandparents were active members of the Buddhist Church of Stockton (BCS).
Our Obaachan, Aiko Yagi, and late Ojiichan, Peter Yagi, had always been active at church. Our Ojiichan was Stockton’s president for a few years and in his year-end speeches, he would always include the Japanese sentiment “okagesama de,” or “thanks to you.”
After leaving for college, we were not able to attend weekly services in Stockton, and only returned for the summer Obon and bazaar and the New Year services. While Dharma messages were no longer a part of our weekly routines, Buddhism remained an integral part of our lives.
The beauty of Buddhism, for us, is that its teachings are omnipresent; they are intrinsically a part of us no matter how far we are from church or how long it’s bee