On May 10, the 800th and 850th Shinran Shonin and Jodo Shinshu joint celebration service was held for the overseas districts (kyodan) at Nishi Hongwanji Temple (Honzan) in Kyoto, Japan.
Ministers and delegates from the BCA, Hawaii, Canada, and South America gathered for this auspicious occasion. I, along with my family, had the fortunate opportunity to be amongst fellow Dharma travelers and take part in an amazing experience.
It was a beautiful sunny spring morning. We were greeted by enthusiastic smiling volunteers. Each temple/tour group lined up in front of the Founder’s Hall (Goeido) and awaited their turn to be escorted into the hall to their assigned seats.
As I stood in line with my Vista and San Diego Dharma buddies and looked around, I saw many familiar faces. More Dharma friends! To my left were temple members from Mountain View and San Jose. To my right were temple members from Orange County and Gardena.
A little further down, I saw members from the Bay District, and more Dharma friends from Arizona, Los Angeles, Venice, West Los Angeles, Pasadena, Senshin, Oregon and Seabrook.
It was wonderful to see former BCA Bishop Rev. Koshin and Mrs. Ogui and BCA Minister Emeritus Rev. Nobuo and Rev. Akio Miyaji.
It was also nice to see Rev. Gene Sekiya, former Fresno Betsuin minister, and Rev. Anan Hatanaka, former JSIO program assistant. Both work at the Hongwanji International Center and were busy assisting the event.
Once we were efficiently seated in the Goeido, the service commenced. Chanting the “Shoshinge” with hundreds of voices was invigorating. The voices of all resonated within me. I’m sure others had the same experience. During the service, I thought of my previous day’s experience of visiting the Enryakuji Temple on Mount Hiei, where Shinran Shonin began his journey as a Buddhist priest.
The next two days were spent at the World Buddhist Women’s Convention. Again, I was surrounded by Dharma friends, including those from Hawaii and Canada.
The BCA Music Committee’s project, “With Gassho From the Heart,” was presented at the convention by Federation of Buddhist Women’s Association (FBWA) members representing all eight BCA districts and was well received.
Huge thanks to BCA Music Committee Chairperson Kemi Nakabayashi, and the many individuals for their expertise and talent in creating this new composition. I also want to acknowledge the FBWA for funding this project.
If you have not done so already, please visit the BCA website and go to the FBWA music project to watch a video and listen to this beautiful song inspired by a poem by Lady Takeko Kujo at: https://www.buddhistchurchesofamerica.org/fbwa-music-project
I would also like to thank Mrs. Karen Akahoshi, who was our BCA FBWA panel representative. Karen’s inspiring message based on the convention theme, “Life of Nembutsu Enables Us to Appreciate Every Encounter,” touched the hearts of many.
The activity that made the top of my list was the Fellowship Time. Attendees had the opportunity to meet five other delegates from Japan. The women I met were inquisitive and loved to talk! They took their responsibility as hosts seriously and were so worried about communicating with a foreigner. We managed and they were so relieved. The women were from Hokkaido, Hiroshima, Saga and Gifu. We could have talked for hours sharing about where we are from, what we enjoy and why it was so important for us to attend the convention.
As I reflect on this incredible trip, I am truly grateful to all who made it possible and added to my spiritual growth and understanding of the benefits of my Shin Buddhist path.
I have a deeper appreciation for our Jodo Shinshu tradition, have extended my Sangha connections, and am truly grateful to have shared the experience with my family and Dharma friends.