Japanese way of chanting sutra is usually done by "Go-on（呉音）" which is one of the old pronunciations of Chinese characters. "Go（呉）" in Japanese means "Wu-dynasty (229-280) " in China. "On（音）" means sound or pronunciation. "Go-on" pronunciation was believed to be imported to Japan with Buddhism in 538 AD. Although more "Kan-on (Han-sound)（漢音）" which was the standard pronunciations of Tang-dynasty (618 -907) were imported to Japan with Kan-ji (Han-Character漢字) later , "Go-on" was preferred to read sutras by Japanese priests.
I think it is amazing that Japanese Buddhist temples in USA still read sutras by this "Go-on" pronunciation, which is originated in Wu-dynasty. We do have some translations of both Japanese and English, but they were almost never chanted. Why?
For a long time, I believed it was OK to continue this way because there were always something to learn from the words we were not familiar with.
But very recently, I've changed my mind. I realize this is Hawaii. I thought I should at least "try" something new. In order to find out which is good or bad, all we need to do is "try."
So I did "try" chanting sutra (Shiseige) in the following four ways.
1. Chanting Sutra in English
2. Chanting Sutra in Go-on.
3. Chanting Sutra in Old Japanese or Transcription of Chinese classics into Japanese.
4. Chanting Sutra in Modern Japanese.
My impression? It was "not bad" to read in English and modern Japanese. Rather I thought it was very good not to limit only one way. By chanting the same sutra in different ways, I can view it in different ways and I can deepen my understanding.
That was a quite discovery for me.
The only problem I felt was my pronunciation of English. I know it's "not good", but I'm hoping it's "not so bad" for you. Your suggestion is always appreciated.
Here are my "try."