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Northwest District Temples Hold Joint Hoonko Celebration at White River

FYI: To view the Hoonko workshops and Ojoraisan Shoya on Jan. 13, go to:

To view the Northwest District temples joint Hoonko service on Jan. 14, go to: 


After an arson fire shuttered the Seattle Betsuin Buddhist Temple on New Year’s Eve, Northwest District ministers and Sangha members pivoted quickly to hold the joint Hoonko celebration at White River Buddhist Temple in Auburn, Washington — and a truly memorable event was held with a packed crowd of more than 200 people at the Sunday service.

The Hoonko event on Jan. 13-14 was originally scheduled at the Seattle Betsuin Buddhist Temple. 

Members of Seattle Betsuin, White River Buddhist Temple and Tacoma Buddhist Temple worked hard to hold the special event. 

On Jan. 13, there were several workshops. Rinban Rev. Katsuya Kusunoki of Seattle Betsuin talked about the Goeden scrolls and their history and about the Gobunsho, which was written by Shinran Shonin’s great-grandson Kakunyo. 

Rev. Yoshimichi Ouchi of Toronto Buddhist Temple ran through a practice session for the chanting of “Ojoraisan Shoya.” 

Rev. Cyndi Yasaki, Resident Minister at White River Buddhist Temple, gave a Dharma talk after Rev. Ouchi’s session, where she discussed the Five Gates of Mindfulness (五念門 — gonenmon) and then we all chanted “Ojoraisan Shoya” together. It was a truly unforgettable experience.

On Jan. 14, the Hoonko service was held and the “Shuso Sango Saho Ongaku Hoyo” service was held. “Ongaku” is the Japanese word for music, and it was a very musical service.

The participants were joined by Kemi Nakabayashi on electric piano and the gagaku players from Seattle Betsuin, and it made for such a memorable event. Rev. Kusunoki played the sho, Rev. Ouchi played the hichiriki, and Tacoma Buddhist Temple Resident Minister Rev. Tadao Koyama played the ryuteki. 

In addition, Dennis Yamashita and Esther Sugai played the ryuteki. Mika Semki played the hichiriki with Rev. Ouchi. Marcia Takamura and Ann Ishimaru played taiko and percussion with Sugai as well.

Northwest District singers from Seattle Betsuin, White River Buddhist Temple and Oregon Buddhist Temple also led the special vocal parts of the wasan and “Ondokusan.” 

After the service, the participants met for refreshments prepared by Seattle Betsuin Sangha members.

Sara Perrott is a Minister’s Assistant at White River Buddhist Temple.


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