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Rissho Kosei-kai
International of North America
Buddhism for Today
Phone: (323) 262-4430
eMail: info@rkina.org
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Reverend Shoko Mizutani
Director, Rissho Kosei-Kai International of North America

Sharing the Dharma so everyone can be more enlightened and the world will be as one... This is my dream.


My parents were Buddhists

I was born as the third son in 1953 in Japan.  As members of Rissho Kosei-kai, my parents enjoyed living the Dharma in everyday life.  They started a day by reciting the Lotus Sutra in front of the home altar, worked hard on business and family affairs, never said bad things about others but tried hard to render kind support to others, and built a wonderful bond between themselves by respecting and honoring each other. Their life was wonderful, but I did not have any interest in Buddhism until I became 24.

How I became a Buddhist

After graduating from Hokkaido University in Japan, I did graduate study on Conservation and Utilization of Plant Genetic Resources at University of Birmingham in UK.  This was a big challenge for me and if I had not studied in UK, I would not have become a Buddhist in my life. 

With poor English proficiency and much self-pride (“I am from JAPAN!”) in this competitive, English-only Western world setting, "this poor guy from somewhere in Asia" nearly felt defeated.  My mind was filled with irritation, jealousy, and resentment, but I used those negative emotions as fuel to propel myself into hard work to complete my graduate work.    

Birmingham UniversityIt was under these circumstances that I read a Japanese book that my dad handed to me before I had left Japan. The book was Return to a Human by Nikkyo Niwano.  Rev. Niwano wrote about the Buddhist teachings very logically. I learned that from the enlightened eyes, one’s true self is not one’s body, but one’s true self is the Universe itself. When I read this part, I remember that I felt so much freedom from attachment and that I was filled with peace.  Although this feeling was not permanent and my suffering continued, I was able to see a light, which would eventually become brighter.

The purpose of my study was to become an agricultural scientist to increase food production in third world countries.  But I gradually recognized that this purpose was very self-serving.  I asked to myself, “Am I studying hard so that others will be happier, or so that I can be happier?”  “If someone else does great work and people become happier, will I also be happy because they are happier? “

I truly wished that I could be a person who could deeply share joy and happiness, and pain and suffering with others.  How could I build such a great mind?  My answer was Rissho Kosei-kai.  I was not absolutely sure if Rissho Kosei-kai was the answer.  But I was able to see the light because of the proof I saw through the teachings my parents kept showing me in the way they lived their lives.

In May In 1978, I went back to Japan. I walked into a local Rissho Kosei-kai center and began my Buddhist life.

The last 30 years

I was very fortunate to have joined Rissho Kosei-kai where I was able to study and practice the Dharma teachings with wonderful leaders and members.   Because I found that Rissho Kosei-kai is the answer, I decided to go to the Rissho Kosei-kai Gakurin Seminary in 1980.   From 1983 to 1985, I studied International Development at Cornell University in US. 

After graduation, I became a full time staff member and worked to plan and implement Rissho Kosei-kai’s international peace activities, including the medical relief for Ethiopian refugees in Sudan (1985), educational support for children in Thailand (1987-1993), emergency assistance for children in Iraq (1991), supporting Mother Teresa’s work for rehabilitation of girls in India (1992), reforestation project in Ethiopia (1993), Rissho Kosei-kai Global Volunteers work in Laos, Korea, Indonesia, former Yugoslavia, Philippines, etc. (1992-2000), and relief work in Kobe earthquake (1995).

Rissho Kosei-kai peace work

After serving as Deputy Director of Rissho Kosei-kai Youth Headquarter in Tokyo, I was assigned as minister of Rissho Kosei-kai Buddhist Church of LA in 2001.  And since 2008, I work at my present RKINA Buddhist Center position. 

The more I have understood the Dharma, the more peace and joy I have gained. How fortunate I am that I had started walking the Way of the Buddha by joining Rissho Kosei-kai in my 20's.  I deeply appreciate the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha.    I think that the Buddhist Way is not all or nothing or enlightened or not-enlightened.  But with the Dharma, we are able to have many awakening experiences; they may often be small ones.  Founder Nikkyo Niwano says, “The accumulation of ‘I see!’ moments of realization lead to enlightenment.”   I appreciate all the realization I have had in my Buddhist Way.

My family

I married a nurse I met while working together in the refugee camp in Sudan.  She was sent from the Rissho Kosei-kai hospital.   My wife, Tomoko, and I have two daughters and two sons. 

Tomoko and Shoko Mizutani
Mizutani children in Solvang 

My dream

The purpose of my life is to become a person who can deeply share joy and happiness with others, and share pains and suffering with others. I believe this is possible through the work to serve others and to serve for the awakening of all.  

Here in the US, I would like to work to share the Dharma with everyone in this country. Sharing the Dharma is not to make everyone a Buddhist.  I would like to share the Dharma with everyone so that she/he can become a more enlightened Christian, a more enlightened Muslim, and a more enlightened one. 

And the world will be as one. This is my dream.


Contact Information:

Email: SMizutani@buddhistcenter-rkina.org

Phone: (949) 336-4430 | Cell (310) 528-9576

Read Rev. Mizutani's You can Become a Buddha blog



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Rissho Kosei-kai International of North America
2707 East First St., Suite 1, Los Angeles, CA 90033
(323) 262-4430 | info@rkina.org
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