I have been doing some nembutsu and I do struggle with the 'Amitabha Buddha'. It's almost like a tongue twister for me. I see some use 'Amida Buddha' or 'Amida Butsu'. Just curious if there is any difference between them. I would like to use Amida as it's much easier to recite.
Pronunciation shouldn't be an issue.
I like the Chinese versions: "Omitoufo" or "Namo Amitoufo", but at my temple we practice longer, slower, rhythmic chant of "Namo Amitabha Buddha".
The longer version feels a little more natural right now because that's how we practice.
108 repetitions for me, is more than double the amount of time for 108 repetitions of "Omitoufo", probably longer.
Not sure either method is better in the short term, but the longer method seems like it may take longer (more repetitions) to get to single pointed concentration & beyond.
Ultimately, all of them are equally valid, so it doesn't really matter - though some day I may mix it up.
I know nienfo/nembutsu/Buddha-name recitation is not quite the same as a mantra, but I think this story from Lama Zopa Rinpoche fits the situation:
A HERMIT AND A MONK:
A monk visited a hermit, who lived alone on an island doing retreat. The hermit had given himself three years to complete chanting ten million of the powerful six-syllable mantra of the Compassionate Buddha. The hermit had been told that attaining this level of practice would awaken his yogic powers. The mantra was "OM MANI PADME HUM".
The monk listened as the hermit did his mantra and, with the best intention in the world, leaned over to him and whispered:
"I think you have got the pronunciation wrong. This mantra should be chanted this way..." and he proceeded to demonstrate. The hermit listened attentively and then watched as the monk walked back to his boat to leave the island.
Ten minutes later when the boat was halfway across the river the monk heard his name being called, and looking around, he spied the hermit and heard him call:
"Listen to this, have I got it right now?" and the hermit proceeded to chant the same mantra but with the monk's intonation. Astounded, the monk turned around and saw the hermit walking on the water next to his boat. In that instant he realized that the hermit's faith and sincerity had given his mantra recitation far more power than he had realized.