For today’s episode, we speak with Charles Inouye.
Charles is a truly remarkable person—the son of Japanese parents who were held in the Heart Mountain, Wyoming camp during World War II. He grew up in the small town of Sigurd, Utah.
He spent much of his youth working on his family’s farm in Sigurd, but eventually served a mission in Japan. He then went on to earn degrees from some of the world’s most prestigious universities, including a BA from Stanford and a PhD from Harvard. He’s now a Professor of Japanese Literature and Visual Culture at Tufts University.
In our discussion, we talked with Charles about his most recent book: Zion Earth Zen Sky—which is a really remarkable and unique work among Latter-day Saint literature. For one thing, its prose is interspersed with haiku which for us brought a totally new and welcome feel to the book. We’ve really never read anything quite like it, and Charles’ deep understanding of and appreciation for Zen Buddhism brings insights to life as a Latter-day Saint that we’d never considered.
Charles was kind enough to make time for us in-studio on a recent trip from Boston to Utah, and we were so glad we got a chance to talk to him—we hope you enjoy this conversation as much as we did.