I’ve changed my blog title, which used to be simply my full name. The new title is Kaya, named after Buddha Kaya, which means Buddha’s three bodies (three kayas): The first body, ‘true body’, embodies the very principle of enlightenment. The second, ‘bliss body’, is a body of bliss or clear light manifestation. The last one, ’emanation body’, means Buddha incarnation manifests in time and space. Although I do not follow any religion, I like these concepts.
My Japanese name is Kayo, which a Buddhist monk named me when I was born.
My grandmother asked the monk to tell fortunes for my name, and he read my stars and named me Kayo in Katakana symbols, which is unusual for Japanese names. Most of the Japanese names have kanji (Chinese) letters, but mine doesn’t. In Japanese, we generally use Katakana symbols for foreign words, but the monk specified using Katakana for my name. Actually, it was common for female names in ancient times. I also heard that this practice – asking a monk to name a new-born baby – is still common in China. But my Chinese colleagues were surprised that this had happened within a normal Japan family because it’s a rare experience.
Little Kayo went to a preschool, where an American teacher called me Katie. I never imagined that one day I would move to Europe and people would start using this English name for me. Katie grew up and went to a Catholic high school and a Christian university. I became more familiar with Christianity than Buddhism.
Dating back, my mother, who used to be a nurse, left home to become a Buddhist priest when I was ten years old. She officially became a priest after that. Health concerns mean she now has a normal life, but she still practises Buddhism as strictly as she can.
Last month, my mother told me that she had prepared Buddhist prayer beads called Juzu as spiritual protection for me. They are just like a rosary. A Juzu has 108 beads, and the number 108 is the number of human afflictions. When these beads are rubbed together with both hands, they create a soft grinding noise. This is considered to have a purifying effect and break the 108 afflictions. I had never taken it seriously before, but I feel like this has come just at the right time.