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Reminder/ Lecture: Eastward Movement of Buddhism in Mid-1950s, Dr. Wako Kato, Jan 11, 7:30PM

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In January's Japan Study Club at the Nibei Foundation in West Los Angeles, Zen priest and philosophy scholar Dr. Wako Kao will lecture on "Eastward Movement of Buddhism in mid-1950s" on

Tuesday, January 11 at 7:30 pm.

The Nibei Foundation

Japan Study Club's Dinner/Lecture Series

Tuesday, January 11

Reception and dinner at 6:30 pm

Followed by lecture at 7:30 pm

Admission including dinner: $10 per person

RSVP required by January 7 at www.nibei.org

For more information or RSVP, email japanstudies@nibei.org or call (310) 479-6101 ext 134.

The Japan Study Club will be held at Terasaki Foundation Laboratory Building, 11570 Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064.  

Eastward Movement of Buddhism in mid-1950s

Dr. Wako Kato, Zen Priest/Philosophy Scholar

Nibei Lecture Kato Kawo
Dr. Wako Kato

Dr. Wako Kato of Pasadena is Professor Emeritus of California State University Los Angeles, and Professor Emeritus of Nagoya University of Foreign Studies in Japan.

It was in the mid-1950s when Rev. Wako Kato, young priest of Soto Zen Mission from Japan, involved in the early phase of Zen Buddhism spread in the US through his association with philosopher/writer Alan Watts in San Francisco.


Wako Kato was born in 1930 at a Zen temple in Nagoya. He graduated from Aichi Education University in 1951, practiced Zen at two Zen monasteries and thereafter became the priest of a Zen temple, Hosenji, in Nagoya.

In 1952, Kato came to San Francisco to assist Rev. Hodo Tobase of Sokoji temple. In 1955, Kato graduated from San Francisco State University in music major.

In the summer of 1955, he met Alan Watts, then a prolific writer and radio lecturer in San Francisco. In 1957, Alan Watts asked Rev. Kato to lecture to him on Chinese and Japanese Zen classic texts. They spent a couple afternoons every week, each three to four hours.

Nibei Lecture Alan Watts Book
Alan Watts' "The Way of Zen"

Kato earned master degree in philosophy at University of Pacific. In 1960, he earned Ph.D. in comparative religious studies from then a consortium program of University of Pacific and University of California, Berkeley.

Through his San Francisco Bay area associates and the academics in and around the UC Berkeley community, Dr. Kato not only expounded on the fundamentals of Zen Buddhism but also involved "Eastward Movement of Buddhism" in the U.S.


From 1959, he taught at San Francisco State University, University of Colorado briefly, then from 1960 on San Jose State University, and University of California, Berkeley.

Nibei Lecture Alan Watts
Alan Watts in 1960s

His involvement with "Eastward Movement of Buddhism" in Northern California continued until 1963 when he was assigned to the assistant to the Soto Zen Master Reirin Yamada in Los Angeles. Rev. Yamada was the Head of the Soto Zen Mission in the North America in that time.

Rev. Kato's service to the Soto Zen Mission in the U.S. has been continuing until present time.

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