Reverend Sawada Gyosen is a Buddhist monk of the Nipponzan Myohoji sect, a small Nichiren Buddhist order that is known for being actively engaged worldwide in the peace movement. Its Peace Pagodas (Stupas) are in locations around the world and one of the main practices of the monks, nuns and followers is to conduct pilgrimages while chanting and beating hand drums.
One of the most prominent of these pilgrimages was the Interfaith Pilgrimage for Peace and Life, a walk from Auschwitz to Hiroshima during 1994-1995. More recently, there was involvement in the American Indian Movement’s Long Walk, the 2010 Walk for a Nuclear Free Future and 2011 Sacred Sites Peace Walk for a Nuclear Free World (http://canuclearwalk.wordpress.com/blog/ )
Reverend Sawada was born and brought up in Fukushima Prefecture in Japan but has been residing in the U.S. since the 80’s, practicing at the Myohoji Dojo in Boulder, Colorado and Los Angeles, California.
Because of his ties to Fukushima, he is also personally dedicated to the anti-nuclear cause and believes that “all things nuclear, from weapons to power generation have caused misery and suffering to humanity – we must end this cycle.” As a monk, his way is through prayer and he has participated in not only the larger walks but smaller, independent personal walks.
In the summer of 2013, Reverend Sawada walked from the gates of Vandenburg Air Force Base to Diablo Canyon in the days leading up to the anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and fasted in front of the Diablo Canyon gates in a 3 day vigil between Hiroshima Day and Nagasaki Day. He was supported by San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace and the Catholic Workers of Guadalupe.
For the third anniversary of the Fukushima Disaster, Reverend Sawada walked from Santa Barbara to Diablo Canyon, in collaboration with the Chumash Peoples.