Rev. Nakai is a third-generation Japanese American woman born in Chicago to a Buddhist father and Christian mother. She earned her undergraduate degrees in international economics and Japanese history and culture at the University of Minnesota. After working in various areas such as banking, she was encouraged to pursue Buddhist studies. She moved to Japan and enrolled at Ōtani University in Kyoto, Japan and earned an MA in Shin Buddhist Studies. She has full ordination as a minister and dharma teacher (kyoshi) at Higashi Honganji, the head temple of the Otani-ha sub-denomination of Shin Buddhism in Kyoto.
After serving as part-time minister at the Higashi Honganji temple in Los Angeles for eight years, she returned to Chicago in 1995. She served as Associate Minister for many years before replacing the retiring Rev. Ashikaga as Resident Minister in 2013. In addition to her many minister duties, she teaches the monthly Sunday sutra study class, the weekly Wednesday Buddhist study class, and the repeating 4-week Introduction to Buddhism class. You can read her writings in her monthly article for the BTC Bulletin and on her blog, Taste of Chicago Buddhism. We are working on a collection of Rev. Nakai’s many articles from the BTC Bulletin, but in the meantime, you can read some of her works collected at the West Covinia Temple website here.
Rev. Nakai was featured in the spring 2013 issue of Tricyle magazine and has also contributed to that publication. She is also a frequent speaker and panelist at various conventions in the United States and Canada. In 2015, she was one of a handful of Buddhist delegates to meet with the Pope at the Vatican for a Buddhist-Catholic dialogue (see second video below).
For a sample of her presentations, here is a 2014 talk at the Toronto Buddhist Temple.
Rev. Patti appears at 2:15 in the video below.