Born in São Paulo, Emilia Emy Urabe Kajimoto is a third-generation Japanese Brazilian. She grew up in the Jodo Shinshu Buddhist tradition at São Paulo Nambei Honganji temple, where her father worked as a missionary. From age five, she started chanting “Shoshinge” (Shinran’s Hymn of True Faith), and attended a local elementary school while living at the temple.
She found it difficult to explain who she was and where she lived to friends, who were primarily Catholic. She used Christian terms, which she felt they could understand, but felt it wasn’t quite right. She said, “I told my school friends that I lived in a church and that my father was a priest, even though I felt it was somewhat different.”