It’s hard to believe that like many of you, I have inhabited this earth for more than half a century. During this time, I am so grateful that the BCA Sangha has been such an integral part of my life.
Fifty years ago in July, I joined 31 Buddhist Boy Scouts from all eight BCA districts plus four adult leaders and embarked for Japan as the BCA’s contingent to the 13th World Scout Jamboree.
Japan was emerging from the post-war recovery years and was making its presence felt on the world scene. One year earlier, Japan hosted Expo ’70 in Osaka and before that, the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, but this was the first time that the world jamboree, held every four years, would be held in Asia at the foot of majestic Mount Fuji.
Participating BCA scouts and leaders besides myself included: Alan Hayashi, Wesley Kaihara, Wesley Koga, Michael Koga, Warren Higa, Neil Tsubota, Wayne Sutow, Fred Omai, Bryan Ono, Ralph Honda, Mike Iseri, Peter Adachi, Stephen Tomita, Dean Hiyama, Alan Yoshimura, Steve Omori, Glen Okuma, Bryan Maruhashi, Michael Yamane, Marshall Ota, David Hasegawa, Ben Yamane, Takeshi Yamanaka, Russell Uchiyama, Ken Suechika, Hiro Ouchi, Kaz Furukawa, Ken Yoneta, Mark Noguchi, Ken Ogami, Jim Taketa, Tom Suechika, Tak Obata, Shunkichi Ego, Tom Nagata and Rev. Hogen Fujimoto.
Just as the activities of the jamboree were getting underway, the weather suddenly changed and it started to rain, but little did we realize that Typhoon Olive was approaching Japan and our jamboree site would experience a direct hit!
After a few days of sitting in the drenching rain, we were evacuated from the jamboree site to the nearby city of Mishima thanks to the connections of assistant scoutmaster and Pasadena temple member Tom Suechika who had maintained friendships with Mishima officials through the Mishima-Pasadena Sister City program.
For most of us, this was our first visit to Japan, our first world jamboree and our first typhoon! Highlights included climbing Mount Fuji, meeting then Shinmon (now Zenmonsama) Koshin Ohtani, who, himself, was involved with the Japan Scouting program and meeting some of the more than 24,000 fellow Scouts from throughout the world.
After the typhoon and jamboree ended, we went on to Kyoto and had an audience with Monshu Kosho Ohtani and Shinmonshu Koshin Ohtani. Then we headed on to Hiroshima where we met with atomic bombing survivors residing at the Atomic Bomb Victims Hospital. This was my first experience in realizing what it meant to be a Japanese American, an American with Hiroshima blood running through my body.
This year actually marks the 101st year of the BCA’s involvement with the Boy Scout movement. The first Boy Scout Troop sponsored by a BCA temple was Troop 4 started by the Fresno Betsuin in 1920. Since that time, thousands of BCA youth have been a part of the BCA’s Scouting program as Boy or Girl Scouts or Campfire Girls and fortunately, the Scouting program continues today in BCA temples 100 years later.
Hopefully, those of us who went through the BCA Scouting program have lived our lives being trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thirty, brave, clean and reverent.
Let me close by expressing my gratitude to all those who have led and supported our BCA Scouting program over the last century.