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|HISTORY OF NICHIREN
MISSION OF HAWAII
3, After the World War II (Last half of the History of the
Nichiren Mission of Hawaii)
Chronologically speaking, the second half of the 100 year history
of the Nichiren Mission of Hawaii begins with the 50th Anniversary celebration of the
birth of Nichiren Buddhism in Hawaii. It is more practical, however, to draw a line in
1946, when Bishop Mochizuki returned from the relocation camp on the mainland U.S.A. and
re-opened the Mission. The year marked the end of the Japanese-style and the beginning of
the American-style Nichiren Mission of Hawaii. The impact of the war made the change
The Japanese living in Hawaii and their descendants who had never
been forced to choose between Japan and America, were forced to do so by the Pacific War.
Most of them, quite naturally, chose to be Americans. The psychological change caused
various changes in the Japanese American society such as the disappearance of Japanese
kimono from the group pictures of temple events. Cut off from the roots in Japan, even
Japanese Buddhist ministers changedfrom sectarian to interdenominational in outlook.
English began to replace Japanese in family conversation. Culturally, they have become
Americans rather than Japanese.
On the other hand, as the constitutional freedom of religion and
assembly was restored to Japanese Americans after the war, many of them flocked to the
Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines, reacting to the religious suppression during the war
In the mind of those who flocked to the Buddhist temple, however,
there was a subtle change. They felt like seeking refuge in Japanese Buddhism while
refuting things Japanese. As a result, they were drawn by the un-Japanese Americanized
A positive effect of the Pacific War on Japanese Buddhism in
Hawaii was the consolidation of inter-denominational friendship among Buddhist priests.
Almost all Japanese Buddhist priests in Hawaii were sent to relocation camps on the
mainland U.S.A. Living together as virtual prisoners in the confinement of these camps for
several years required them to stand together. The solidarity among them resulted in the
establishment of the Hawaii Buddhist Council to work together actively in the postwar
Airplane trips were not yet common, and traveling by boat took
time. With the high cost of long distance telephone calls and without modern communication
facilities such as facsimile and e-mail, contact with Japan depended on letter writing. As
a result influence of Japan was virtually non-existent compared to that of today, making
the trend of Americanization inevitable.
Foreseeing the inevitable change, Bishop Mochizuki successfully
led the Mission to proceed so that it would not fall behind the Americanization of
Japanese American community in Hawaii.
1) Return of Bishop Kanryu Mochizuki
Discharged from internment on December 10, 1945, the Mochizuki
family returned to Kapapala for a short time and moved to Honolulu early in the following
On January 6, 1946, Bishop Mochizuki held a solemn service to
report his return to the Buddha. On the 13th of the month, he held a memorial service for
the repose of ancestral souls of member families, the war dead, and all those who had
passed away during the war years.
Activities of the temples were Americanizing in many ways: songs
in praise of the Buddha were sung at Sunday School; sermons were given in English; and the
Young Buddhist Association (YBA) was organized. On Sundays, services were performed in
both English and Japanese. Prior to the war, Sunday services were held weekly but only a
few members participated in them with most members preferring to visit the temple only for
traditional services, such as ohigan and obon. However, as the temple
activities became Americanized, members who visit the temple every Sunday increased and it
became customary for everything to be carried out on Sundays. Also, under the auspices of
the Hawaii Buddhist Council, joint services of the member temples became established as
Priestly costume also changed. Except for formal services such as
ohigan and obon priests at that time wore a robe and stole over a white
shirt, black tie and trousers in black. Today this habit has been abandoned except for the
priests of the True Pure Land School.
Even the entertainment after special services became
international from Japanese. A famous Korean dancer, Ms. Halla Pai Huhm, who became a
temple member during Bishop Mochizukis tenure, performed traditional Korean dances
with her disciples after the annual services for ohigan and obon.
50th Anniversary of the Introduction of Nichiren Buddhism in
On April 26, 1953, the grand ceremony commemorating the 50th
Anniversary of the Introduction of Nichiren Buddhism to Hawaii was held at the Nichiren
Mission of Hawaii officiated by Reverend Shobun Kubota, who represented the Chief Priest (hossu)
of the Kuonji Temple on Mt. Minobu. Rev. Kubota, a graduate of Tokyo University, studied
in England and taught at the Rissho University, where he served as a Professor, Chairman
of the Department of Buddhism, and the Vice-President. At the same time he was the
Editor-in- Chief of a religious journal entitled the Hokke (Lotus Flower). The year
1953 was actually the 51st Anniversary for Nichiren Buddhism in Hawaii, but it was the
700th year since the Establishment of the Nichiren Shu Order in Japan. Therefore, it was
decided to celebrate the 50th and 700th anniversaries at the same time in 1953. Thus the
official title of the event became "Grand Ceremony Commemorating the 700th
Anniversary of the Establishment of Nichiren Buddhism and the 50th Anniversary of the
Introduction of Nichiren Buddhism in Hawaii". Organizationally, the head of the
Nichiren Shu Order (archbishop) then was inseparable from the Head Priest (hossu)
of the Kuonji Temple on Mt. Minobu; the Chief Priest of the Kuonji Temple was also the
Archbishop of the Nichiren Shu Order. Representing the Nichiren Shu Order, Reverend Kubota
traveled to Hawaii alone. The Japanese traveling abroad in those days were subject to
strict limitation, so it is assumed that a staff in attendance was impermissible. Reverend
Kubota departed the Haneda Airport aboard a Pan American flight at 5:30 p.m. on April
22nd. The plane landed on Wake Island at 1:30 at night, resumed the flight after refueling
and arrived in Hawaii at 4:15 p.m. It took 18 long hours to fly from Japan to Hawaii,
which sounds almost incredible today.
Waiting for him at the Honolulu International Airport were Bishop
Mochizuki and about 100 devotees as well as reporters of such newspapers as the Hawaii
Times, Hawaii Hochi, Honolulu Advertiser, and Star-Bulletin.
Reverend Taimyo Shinkai who was assigned to the Temple as an
assistant to the Bishop since July 1952, and Reverend Joei Oi, who was formally a Honmon
Shu priest and a teacher of the Rissho Japanese Language School, helped Bishop Mochizuki
make the event as successful and meaningful as possible.
The welcome party for Reverend Kubota, held at the Lau Yee Chai
Restaurant in Waikiki on April 24th, was attended by a large crowd of 400. The emcee was
Masayuki Kido, and the Public Prosecutor General Edward Silver delivered the welcome
address on behalf of the Governor, while City Councilman Matsuo Takabuki relayed Mayor
Wilsons welcome message. It was shortly after the U.S.-Japanese Peace Treaty was
signed when Reverend Kubota visited Hawaii, so it is conceivable that the U.S. officials
were trying to re-establish friendly relations between the U.S. and Japan.
April 25th: A memorial service was held for the repose of the
deceased Chief Priests and lay members of the Missionthe late Reverends Gyoun
Takagi, Kenpo Kinuya, Benko Sueto and Ejun Ikoma; and the late lay priests Seiji
Sakakibara, Tamehei Nagai and Yoshitaro Yoshikawa. A commemorative article was presented
to Mrs. Hisako Sakamoto, who lived in and guarded the Temple during the war years.
April 26th: The 50th Anniversary Commemorative Service. Led by
the Honolulu Boys Club Band and accompanied by Sunday School children, members of the
Womens Club and officials of the Board of Directors, 120 tendo and chigo
(children in angel costumes) paraded from Kawananakoa Intermediate School to the Temple in
Barron Lane beginning at 12:00 noon. The commemorative service began at 2:00 p.m. led by
Reverend Shobun Kubota and Bishop Kanryu Mochizuki, attended by Reverends Joei Oi, Taimyo
Shinkai and Myoryu Aniya. Also attendees in honor were the Bishops of the Hawaii Buddhist
Council member templesZuien Inoue of the Higashi Hongwanji Mission, Mitsumyo Tottori
of the Shingon Mission, and Zenyu Aoki of the Honpa Hongwanji Mission, Buntetsu
Miyamoto of the Jodo Mission, and Zenkyo Komagata of the Soto Missionas well as
Reverend Goki Takiguchi of the Shinshu Kyokai Temple. Seiji Yoda, Shizue Uyeda, Noboru
Morita and Eiko Yamada offered incense representing the Mission, Womens Club,
Y.B.A., and Sunday School respectively. Toshiko Nagano recited words to the Buddha, in
Japanese, as the representative of the tendo and chigo (children in angel
costumes). Following the service, the celebration party was held with Masao Sakamoto
acting as the emcee. The participants were entertained by Sunday School childrens
dances and plays. The Nichiren YBA members played an episode in the life of Nichiren
Shonin, "disciples imprisoned in a cave".
On April 27th, Reverend Kubota visited the National Cemetery at
Punchbowl to pray for the departed souls and a home for the aged to comfort its patients.
On the 28th, he led the morning service at Blow Hole in commemoration of the Birth of
Nichiren Buddhism in 1253 and gave a memorial lecture at the auditorium of Kawananakoa
Intermediate School that night. On the 29th, a round table discussion with Reverend Kubota
was held at the Mission. On the 30th, he gave a lecture in English at the Y.B.A. Hall. On
May 1, Reverend Kubota delivered a lecture at the Mission under the auspices of the
On May 2nd, Bishop Mochizuki and President Yoda accompanied
Reverend Kubota to Hilo on the island of Hawaii. Councilor Kealoha of the County of Hawaii
and many Nichiren Buddhists welcomed him at the airport. Some came all the way from
Pahala. Reverend Kubota and his party visited the Hamelani Veterans Cemetery to pray and
they attended a welcome luncheon party at the Naniloa Hotel, in which Mr. Tadashi Nagasako
was the emcee and Mr. Ken'ichi Shintaku gave the welcome address. Early in the morning of
the following day, Reverend Kubota and his party arrived at the temple in Kapapala. The
parking lot in front of the temple was completed courtesy of Mr. Ramsey, the plantation
owner. Approximately 500 pilgrims gathered for the commemorative service that began at 10
a.m. At the party that followed the service, Mr. Kitsuki was the emcee, Toraki Nambu
reported the state of affairs at the Kapapala Temple, and Toshiyuki Kai expressed
gratitude to Mr. Ramsey in behalf of the Temple. Mr. Minoru Kanda from Pahala and Mr.
Yoshiaki Miyahara from Nalehu delivered congratulatory addresses. On May 4th, Reverend
Kubota and his party returned to Hilo and he gave a commemorative lecture at the Yamatoza
Hall. On the following day, when they visited a home for the aged to give comfort to the
aged, they were treated to a welcome luncheon at Dr. Kutsunais home. They returned
to Oahu in the afternoon.
On May 6th, they visited the Wahiawa branch temple and Reverend
Kubota gave a memorial lecture at the Lelehua High School in Wahiawa.
On May 8th, they visited the Puunene Nichiren Mission on the
island of Maui and were welcomed by the Councilor of the County of Maui and others. They
visited the Makawao Veterans Cemetery and made a courtesy call on President Baldwin of the
Puunene Sugar Company. At the welcome party held at the Grand Hotel, Ineo Yoshino acted as
the emcee, and President Jotaro Ochiai of the Puunene Mission delivered the welcome
address. The Commemoration Service was held on the following day, May 9th, at the Puunene
On May 10th, they returned to Honolulu and attended the
"Respect the Aged" party in the afternoon. Reverend Kubota also gave a letter of
appreciation and accompanying memorial gift to Mr. James Gilliland, who helped maintain
the Mission during the war. For three days beginning May 11th, Reverend Kubota lectured on
the Lotus Sutra at the Mission. On May 14th, he gave a lecture in English at the
University of Hawaii at Manoa before departing for Japan at ten oclock in the
evening of the same day.
Staying in Hawaii for 24 days and 22 nights, Reverend Kubota thus
continued to work without a break. Needless to say he contributed tremendously to
enhancing the prestige of the Nichiren Buddhism in Hawaii. For what Nichiren Buddhism is
today in Hawaii, we owe a lot to his selfless efforts as well as to the enthusiasm of
Bishop Mochizuki and the fervent desire of the members and friends of the Mission to
uphold the Dharma. At this point, we should not forget a few more contributing factors.
First we should mention the fact that Reverend Kubota traveled alone. It is conceivable
that he could not help traveling without an attendant given the international situation,
but it made it possible for him to move freely and engage in many side activities. Next,
he knew English and was an excellent English speaker. Thirdly, most members of the Board
of Directors had received Japanese language education before the war, and therefore were
able to understand, read, or write Japanese despite the fact that most of them were born
in Hawaii. As a result, religious services and events in Hawaii could proceed as smoothly
as in Japan. Although the Japanese language had been prohibited during the war, the
Japanese speaking people were still influential after the war as a child was able to read
the congratulatory message of chigo in Japanese.
It has been 50 years, almost two generations, since then. Now few
can read Japanese, not to mention writing it. It is a fact today that hardly anyone looks
at newspapers, brochures, and leaflets in Japanese, which are being sent from Japan for
Move to Nuuanu
The process of Americanization of Japanese Buddhism can be seen
in the temple architecture in the 1950s. The temples of Japanese Buddhism in Hawaii had
made a drastic change. Japanese temple buildings started to be reconstructed in modern or
Indian style. Nichiren Shu Betsuin faced a major point of change as well. On April 28,
1957, Hawaii Betsuin moved from School Street to the present location, built the
"temporary" Main Hall, and held the dedication ceremony on November 3rd, of the
same year. The old Main Hall of the temple was built in 1917 and needed a full-scale
reconstruction. The move solved the pending plans to repair and extend the existing temple
building. The new temple site along the Pali Highway was secured in 1956 through the
efforts of Realtor Albert Yonaoshi, who was a member of the Nichiren Mission. It was the
old mansion of the Cook family in Nuuanu.
The owner of the mansion was Theodore Cook, one of the top five
in Hawaii. It seems Mr. Cook had taken up residence in Nuuanu in 1915 or so. Several
houses around the current Betsuin are said to have been the residences of employees of the
Cook family, and the land on which these houses stand was not a part of the deal. The
Betsuin purchased Mr. Cooks residence, currently used as the temple office, together
with land area totaling approximately 80,000 square feet (a little less than 2 acres) at
the bargain price of one dollar per square foot including the buildings. Mr. Cook was
known as a Japanophile and it is said that ten of his employees were all Japanese. Having
heard of the construction plans for the Pali Highway, he is said to have decided to sell
his residence for fear that the tranquility in the Nuuanu Valley would be disrupted.
Some members suggested a plan to purchase residences of the
employees as well. An architectural plan for an Indian style temple was initially drawn
up, but it had to be abandoned due to shortage of funds. We should say, however, that it
was a great achievement that the Nichiren Mission at least acquired one of the most
beautiful properties in Hawaii. It was planned, moreover, that the former temple property
in Barron Lane be converted to an apartment complex to help finance the missionary
activities of the new temple in the future. We are deeply grateful to Bishop Mochizuki,
members and devotees of the Nichiren Mission of Hawaii at the time, who made this decision
despite the huge loan.
The Japanese garden on this property includes a pond in the shape
of the Chinese character for the mind. Mr. Kiyoshi Takano is credited making this sole,
purely Japanese style garden pond in Hawaii. Local people call it "the Japanese
Sunday School and YBA
As stated earlier, temple activities were different from those in
Japan. Events were mostly carried out on Sundays. The second and third generation
Americans of Japanese ancestry visited the temple every Sunday, listened to the sermon,
and strengthened their faith in the Buddha.
Sunday School means educational programs for children that are
held before or after the Sunday service. Boys and girls up to high school age attended it.
The sermons in Sunday School are mostly translated version of childrens stories for
the purpose of teaching morality. The basic doctrines of Buddhism such as "The
Fourfold Noble Truth" and "The Eightfold Holy Path" were taught, and the
citations from Dharmapada (Dharma-phrase Sutra) were read. The tenet of the Sunday
School curriculum was virtually common among the six Japanese Buddhist Schools belonging
to the Hawaii Buddhist Council. In other words, it was the basic Buddhist doctrines rather
than the sectarian theology. The Flower Festival of the Hawaii Buddhist Council
commemorating the birth of the Buddha drew inter-sectarian participants, with Sunday
School children playing main roles even today. The children also enjoyed putting on a
play, celebrated birthdays with candies, made presents for parents on Mothers or
Fathers Day and sing songs of praise to the Buddha.
Sunday School was very active in the 1950s. Mrs. Shizue Morimoto
was the principal, who acted as emcee every Sunday. Mrs. Tsuruyo Higuchi, well-versed in
Buddhist stories, was also an active leader. Jane Kusunoki, a YBA member, played the
organ, read Buddhist stories for children, and planned other activities for Sunday School.
Bishop Mochizuki assigned his young assistant ministers to be in charge of the Sunday
School while Hoover Tateishi positively involved himself with Sunday School activities.
Children of such young families as Aokis, Wakis, Kimotos, Ninomiyas, Chinens, Kokis,
Furukawas, Itos, Aiharas, Kurogis, Ishiharas, and Koyamas attended Sunday School every
The graduates of Sunday School joined the Young Buddhist
Association (YBA). The YBA members actively participated in events at the Mission as well
as out in society such as the mini-golf, bowling, horseback riding, hiking or games
against their counter parts of other temples. In 1949, the YBA published a liturgy called
"Hasu no Oshie", in English for Sunday School children. They also published the
biographies of Sakyamuni Buddha, Nichiren Shonin, and Buddhist doctrines in easy English
written by Dr. Shobun Kubota of the Rissho University in Tokyo. As hardly any English
books on Nichiren Buddhism were available at the time, the publication of these teaching
materials in English was an important step forward. The English translation of the Lotus
Sutra by Reverend Senchu Murano and the multi-volumed English translation of the Writings
of Nichiren Shonin by Reverend Kyotsu Hori were not available until the 1970s.
It was about this time when "Nichiren" a movie produced
by the Daiei Movie Company starring Kazuo Hasegawa was shown in Hawaii. As a fundraiser,
the Nichiren Mission sold tickets for the Kokusai Theater. Mr. Muneo Kimura, a member of
the Nichiren Mission, was the President of a local corporation that ran the theater, and
Bishop Mochizuki promoted the sales of tickets by driving to members houses to sell
Hawaii is a place where incantation and prayers flourish. Many
members of the Nichiren Mission of Hawaii are said to believe in faith-healing. This is
not only among Japanese but it is the nature of locality to believe in the soul. From the
time of Bishops Sueto and Watanabes tenure, those who converted to Nichiren Buddhism
has mostly been through incantation and prayers. Bishop Mochizuki was not a full-fledged kito
master, so this trend declined at the Mission. Outside the Mission, however, fervent
Nichiren Buddhists such as Mrs. Shizue Uyeda, with the strength of inspiration and prayers
converted many people to Nichiren Buddhism. Mrs. Uyeda later entered the priesthood,
renamed Nun Myojo Uyeda, and became the Chief Priest of the Puunene Nichiren Mission. Mrs.
Aniya, who organized a small band of followers in Wahiawa, Oahu, entered the priesthood as
a disciple of Bishop Mochizuki and was renamed Nun Myoryu Aniya. Thanks to these fervent
devotees who converted non-believers to Nichiren Buddhism through the power of prayers,
the Mission gained greatly in membership around this time.
While fervent devotees tried to induce the people into the
Nichiren Mission, Bishop Mochizuki was busy organizing the increasing members. Various
Japanese Buddhist temples were beginning to be like traditional American churches. They
had to meet the needs of the new society of Americans of Japanese ancestry which appeared
suddenly in the postwar era. During this period of change, Buddhist missionaries in Hawaii
had to study the English language, forcing young Buddhist ministers to study English at
the University of Hawaii. It began with Reverend Kyotsu Hori and succeeded by Reverend
After 22 years as the Bishop of the Hawaii Mission, Kanryu
Mochizuki passed away on January 18, 1963 at the age of 65. His Buddhist name is Chukoin
Nisshiki Shonin. His private funeral was led by Reverend Taimyo Shinkai, who worked under
him in the 1950s, and the Betsuin went into mourning for him. His formal funeral on April
28th was led by Bishop Yohaku Arakawa of the Nichiren Shu Order of North America (NONA).
Tearfully reading his message of condolence, Mr. Seiji Yoda appealed to the entire
congregation to support the Mission and young Reverend Ikoma in one united body.
Of all the Nichiren Shu priests, Bishop Kanryu Mochizuki lived in
Hawaii for the longest period, making Hawaii his final home. Thirty-one years had passed
since his arrival in Hawaii. Reverend Mochizuki first worked at the Kapapala Temple as the
Chief Priest for nine years, went through the internment on the mainland U.S. during the
war and returned to Hawaii after the war to render services to revive the Mission. The
Mission was full of energy with members across three generations; the aged second
generation, the grown-up third generation, and the growing fourth generation participating
in the temple events. It was also during his tenure as Bishop that branch temples were
born in Wahiawa and Hilo. He carried out commemorative events in memory of the 50th
Anniversary of the introduction of Nichiren Buddhism to Hawaii and exalted the reputation
of Nichiren Buddhism in Hawaii all the more. He also cooperated with leaders of other
denominations to establish the Hawaii Buddhist Council. Moreover, he ventured to move the
Mission to the present location, the greatest project in the history of Nichiren Mission
of Hawaii. It was also during his tenure that a book of Buddhist songs in praise of the
Buddha was compiled by the YBA and published by the Mission in April, 1962. Bishop
Mochizuki endured the hardships of plantation days, World War II relocation camps, postwar
prosperity, the new temple building and the Americanization of the Mission. Facing the
most dramatic changes squarely, he successfully guided the Nichiren Mission of Hawaii
throughout his long tenure.
The death of Bishop Mochizuki marked the end of an epoch as far
as managing of the Mission is concerned. Temples of Japanese Buddhism in Hawaii before the
war had largely been managed by the Chief Priests of the temples. When young Reverend
Ikoma became the acting Chief Priest of the Nichiren Mission, however, management of the
Mission shifted to the temple officials represented by the Board of Directors. This has
become an established tradition today, not only in the Nichiren Mission but also in most
religious corporations in Hawaii. Bishop Mochizuki was the last Chief Priest who managed
the Mission efficiently under the old system.
Archbishop Nichijo Fujii Visits Hawaii Three Times
Accompanied by Chief Administrator Benjo Kaneko and Reverend
Kyoyu Fujii, Archbishop Nichijo Fujii of the Nichiren Shu Order arrived in Hawaii on
December 4, 1963. His purpose was to visit Pearl Harbor, where the Pacific War began, and
to recite the Lotus Sutra for the repose of those American sailors and soldiers who
sacrificed their lives, and for world peace. Archbishop Fujii visited and paid homage to a
Japanese cemetery on the following day and paid courtesy calls to the Governor of Hawaii
and the Mayor of Honolulu on December 6th. On December 7th, he held the 23rd memorial
service aboard the Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor for the repose of the war dead both in
America and Japan, offering flowers. In the evening, the Nichiren Mission of Hawaii hosted
a dinner party to "Welcome Chief Abbot Nichijo Fujii of the Kuonji Temple on Mt.
Minobu and His Party" held at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Hotel in Waikiki. It was
attended by nearly 500 people. After visiting the islands of Hawaii and Maui to deliver
sermons on the 9th and 10th, he left Hawaii for Japan on the 12th of December.
Mr. Juji Okabayashi, who was the President of the Mission when it
welcomed the Archbishop, states in the Nichiren Shu Newspaper,
Many things happened to us, the Nichiren Mission of Hawaii, last
year. Among them the most unforgettable was that we welcomed the party of the Archbishop
and the Chief Administrator for the first time in 65 years since the introduction of
Nichiren Buddhism to Hawaii. Visiting the far away islands in Hawaii, they promoted the
friendship and amity between the U.S. and Japan, held a memorial service aboard the
Arizona Memorial, and memorial services for the deceased Americans of Japanese ancestry in
Hawaii in order to fulfill the grave mission of bridging for the great Nichiren Shu Order
to expand overseas. This is something we can never forget throughout our life. Despite
their short stay in Hawaii, they had a great effect, deeply impressing high officials of
the state, city and county, especially the American Navy, promoting the friendly
relationship between the U.S. and Japan. The Venerable Chief Administrator observed the
state of affairs in Hawaii with his own eyes, so we will be most happy if he understands
us in Hawaii and continues to help us.
While in Hawaii Chief Administrator Kaneko one day spoke of the
late Bishop Mochizuki. When he was talking about his recollections, a large black moth,
which was perched on a purple curtain in front of the Three Treasures (Gohonzon),
suddenly began to flutter around. It is said that the congregation felt as though it was a
messenger of the late Bishop.
Archbishop Fujii revisited Hawaii in 1965, when he stopped by
Honolulu on the way to the World Federation of Nations Convention as the honorary
president of the Japanese delegation. Departing Haneda and arriving in Honolulu on June
17th, Archbishop Fujii paid homage to the Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor and the
Nichiren Mission of Hawaii on the following day, leaving Honolulu for Seattle, Washington,
on June 19th. In June of 1967, Reverend Kenei Kobayashi, Chief Priest of the
Zuirinji Temple in Yanaka, Tokyo, and his party of eleven, visited Hawaii. The number of
Nichiren Shu members, priests and lay persons began to increase about this time.
On September 8, 1970, Archbishop Fujii visited the Nichiren
Mission of Hawaii on his way back from Los Angeles, and Sacramento, California, where he
presided at the dedication ceremonies of the Los Angeles Betsuin Temple (on September 6)
and Sacramento Nichiren Temple on the following day.
Reverend Ryue Ikoma
Reverend Ryue Ikoma, son of the sixth Bishop Ejun Ikoma, was born
in Hawaii, and grew up in Japan. Upon arriving in Hawaii, he was placed in charge of
Sunday School. When Bishop Mochizuki passed away, Reverend R. Ikoma was appointed to fill
the vacancy as the acting head of the Mission, the position he held as long as two years
and two months. Thrown in to the rapid current of Americanization in Hawaii, however, he
decided to continue graduate study at the University of Hawaii, and resigned from the
Mission in July 1965, after serving the temple for six years. Ultimately Reverend R. Ikoma
gained a Ph. D. degree and continued to study at the East West Center until he met the
untimely death on May 30, 1982, at the age of 45. The funeral service was held in the
Nichiren Mission of Hawaii for him. His Buddhist name is Taieiin Nichijun Shonin.
2) The Eighth Bishop Ryushin Okihara
Reverend Ryushin Okihara was appointed on March 21, 1965, by the
Nichiren Shu Headquarters to serve the Nichiren Mission of Hawaii. His installation was
recorded on a long roll-type group photograph which had been popular for decades. He was
an experienced overseas minister on the mainland U.S. A. during the pre-war years. Beside
being the Chief Priest of the Nichiren Shu temples at Seattle, San Francisco and Los
Angeles, he had founded the Portland Nichiren Buddhist Church and had served as the Bishop
of the Nichiren Order of North America (NONA) before going back to Japan.
In Hawaii he was instrumental in re-establishing some of the
traditional Japanese customs at the Mission, and kito ceremonies were
re-established as a regular monthly service. He began regular lessons in Japanese on the Lotus
Sutra and Nichiren Buddhism. His enthusiasm brought much activity to the temple. The
current statues of our Founder and the Three Treasures enshrined in the New Main Hall
represent Bishop Okiharas efforts. He was also instrumental in establishing closer
ties with the Honolulu Myohoji Temple through his relationship with Reverend Eijo Ikenaga.
The Kaishu-e Service commemorating the establishment of Nichiren Buddhism, began to be
held jointly with the Honolulu Myohoji Temple. Other major services such as obon
and ohigan were held at the Mission with Reverend Ikenaga participating. Bishop
Okihara also instituted the shodaigyo (Odaimoku chanting practice) on
Wednesday evenings. It was well-attended by members, who chanted the Odaimoku
continuously for one hour. Some of them sat on the mat spread in front of the inner
sanctuary and chanted. He also started the Daikokuten (a deity of fortune) Festival.
Although the statue of Seishoko (Lord Kato Kiyomasa) had been in the Mission since its
beginning, Bishop Okihara brought the statue out of its mini-shrine at the Seishoko
Festival. For most of the members it was the first time that they saw the statue of Lord
Kato out of his own shrine.
Bishop Okihara felt that the main object of worship or the Gohonzon
(the most revered one) enshrined at the Mission since its inception was too small to befit
the headquarter temple of the Nichiren Shu Order in Hawaii. Thus he began the fund raising
campaign. As the Gohonzon of the Nichiren Shu temple, two types are commonly used:
"a stupa with two Buddhas" and "a Buddha with four bodhisattvas". The
former is the type of the Gohonzon that had been enshrined at the Mission from the
beginning, consisting of an Odaimoku stupa with two Buddhas of Sakyamuni and Many
Treasures (Taho) sitting on both sides of the stupa. On the other hand, the latter type
consists of Sakyamuni Buddha attended by four bodhisattvas. Bishop Okihara preferred the
latter. As a result it was agreed to make the new Gohonzon in the former type (the
same type as the Gohonzon of the Mission since its inception) but on a larger
scale. On the bottom of the newly carved statue of Nichiren Shonin together with the new Gohonzon,
it is written, "The eye-opening service for the statue of our Founder, Great
Bodhisattva Nichiren; donated by the Chief Priest and devotees of the Nichiren Mission of
Hawaii, was conducted by the eighth Chief Priest of the Nichiren Sect Mission of Hawaii
and the Bishop of the Nichiren Shu Order in the District of Hawaii, Gon-Daisojo Ryushin
Nikkai Okihara." The old Gohonzon, which had been enshrined in the Main Hall,
has been enshrined in the hall that houses the ashes of the deceased since then.
As the altar in the Main Hall was expanded, a covered patio was
created right next to the Main Hall to serve as a social hall.
The Mission continued its annual events such as the picnic at Ala
Moana Park and the scattering of the toba made of paper-thin wood after the Bon
Service. A short 8 mm film still exists showing Bishop Okihara beating a large portable
drum aboard a fishing boat. This tradition is no longer observed and instead the floating
paper lantern ceremony is now held at the Japanese pond in the yard of the Mission.
Bishop Okihara returned to Japan in 1968. He did not have enough
time to have a new bishop appointed by the Nichiren Shu Headquarters, so he called
Reverend Kanjitsu Iijima, a Nichiren minister overseas, from the mainland U.S.A. and
installed him as his successor. On January 13th, he returned to Japan after 3 years in
Hawaii. Bishop Okihara was appointed to be the Resident Priest of the Zenshoji Temple in
Hiratsuka City, Kanagawa Prefecture, and he passed away on May 8, 1986, at the age of 89.
He is called Shodoin Nikkai Shonin.
3) The Ninth Bishop Kanjitsu Iijima
Reverend Kanjitsu Iijima, who was installed as the Chief Priest
of the Mission on January 6, 1968, had been a Nichiren Shu overseas minister since 1935.
After serving as the Chief Priest of the Nichiren temples in Seattle, Sacramento, and San
Francisco in succession, he was residing in a suburb of Los Angeles, California, when he
was requested to come to Hawaii. He was married to an American of Japanese ancestry, and
was able to speak fluent English. Well-versed in yoga, Bishop Iijima was advocating the
maintenance of health by means of yoga meditation. He began to renovate the first floor of
the office building and also began giving short sermons at funerals. Although he did not
attend the formal 100-day session of Aragyo (vigorous ascetic practices), he
continued practicing the kito services at the Mission in response to the request of
members. He showed much originality in adapting the teaching of the Lotus Sutra to
modern American society, and the Board of Directors' meetings began to be held in English
during his tenure.
However, it was about this time that anti-religious sentiment
grew rampant among the youth all over America. As the Vietnam War dragged on, an anti-war
or pessimistic and decadent mood spread all over the American society. It was the period
of hippies and the era of free spirit. College demonstrations, long hair, tie-dyed shirts,
bell bottoms and jeans were in fashion. Skeptical of traditional authorities, Americans
stayed away from churches in a sharp contrast to the post-war years. Churches everywhere
lost members drastically, especially the children. The Nichiren Mission was no exception;
although Sunday School maintained enough members, YBA membership declined to six or seven.
Still it continued to function, interacting with the YBA of Buddhist temples of other
Bishop Iijima retired in 1971 after serving the Mission for three
years. He moved back to Los Angeles and passed away on March 22, 1992 at the age of 78.
His Buddhist name is Ren'oin Nichirin Shonin. He was replaced by Reverend Kyotsu Hori.
4) The Tenth Bishop Kyotsu Hori
Reverend Kyotsu Hori returned to the Nichiren Mission of Hawaii
from Richmond, Virginia, on July 4, 1971. He originally came to Hawaii on July 4, 1954, as
an overseas minister stationed at the Nichiren Mission. He resigned the post in September
of 1958, and went to study at the Columbia University in New York City, from which he
received his Ph.D. degree.
On February 18, 1973, Chief Administrator Koin Watanabe of the
Nichiren Shu Order came to Hawaii to preside over the 70th Anniversary service in
commemoration of the introduction of Nichiren Buddhism to Hawaii at the Mission.
Altogether 45 people, priests and lay devotees, accompanied him to Hawaii. On the
following day, they visited the Puunene Nichiren Mission on the island of Maui to hold the
50th Anniversary service of the establishment of the Puunene temple. Then they visited
Hilo on the island of Hawaii on the 20th and departed for Japan on the 22nd. It was around
this time that the high waves of Japanese investment began reaching Hawaii and Japanese
tourists visiting Hawaii started to increase.
Those who bore most of the burden of supporting the Mission in
this period were such members as Harry Kushima, Yorozu Ikawa, Shizue Uyeda, Tsuruyo
Higuchi, Mitsuko Kuramoto, Shinichi and Hatsuyo Hanaoka, a long-term director Juji
Okabayashi, Kazuo Yamashita, Minoru Otsubo, and Andrew Aoki who later served as President.
Mr. Kiyoshi Ito, a long-term director and President passed away in 1977.
Hoping to establish closer relationship between the Mission and
its members and to help enlighten non-followers, Reverend Hori began to issue the monthly
newsletter. With Mrs. Horis cooperation, he translated the Buddhist tales into
English to revitalize the Sunday School. To assist him the Nichiren Shu Order Headquarters
first sent Reverend Bunyu Shimizu and later Reverend Gyojun Tsujimura as overseas
ministers. Reverend Kyodan Wakimura also came to learn English. Mr. Thomas Ishihara opened
Aikido class every Sunday at the Mission attracting young members.
The Religion Department of the University of Hawaii held a
symposium on Kamakura Buddhism, the focus of which was Japanese Buddhism established in
the Kamakura Period. As a part of the symposium, panel discussions were held at each
Kamakura Buddhist temple. A panel discussion was held at the Nichiren Mission, too, as a
part of the memorial events for the Missions 70th Anniversary. This was the
beginning of several joint projects with the Religion Department of the University of
Hawaii. Dr. Alfred Bloom of the University had a great knowledge of True Pure Land
Buddhism as well as Nichiren Buddhism. He was a friend of such scholars of Nichiren
Buddhism as Senchu Murano (later Bishop of the Nichiren Mission) and Shigemoto Tokoro as
well as Dr. Koho Tanaka of the Kokuchukai Association. Reverend Horis academic
background helped the Mission to contribute to the society academically.
At the Mission, an attempt was made to revitalize the English
speaking members through group discussions. The first meeting was held by Bishop Hori and
Reverend Eijo Ikenaga of the Honolulu Myohoji Temple. Several members from both temples
attended it, but it was merely a one-shot meeting. It did not continue although it showed
that both temples were desirous of instituting some innovations to stop the trend of
decline in membership. The Board of Directors of both temples proved to be very
cooperative to such an attempt.
It was at this time that significant changes began to take place
in the management of the Mission. Through the tireless efforts of Andrew Aoki (later
President), Hisashi Yoshida, and Raymond Kamikawa, a new wage system for overseas
ministers was introduced. Formerly the income of ministers had been based on the
"offerings". When the Board of Directors took over the management of the temple,
however, such a system that was based on the practices among the Japanese immigrants of
the pre-war era proved to be unworkable.
The Archbishop Nichii Kaneko of the Nichiren Shu Order went to
Los Angeles, California, to preside over the Grand Ceremony in Commemoration of the 60th
Anniversary of the Introduction of Nichiren Buddhism in North America held at the Los
Angeles Nichiren Temple on May 26, 1974. On the way back, he stopped by in Hawaii,
delivering sermons at the Nichiren Mission of Hawaii and the Wahiawa Nichiren Mission on
June 9th. It was his second visit to Hawaii. When he was the Chief Administrator, he
accompanied the Archbishop Nichijo Fujii on his visit to Hawaii. In the evening of the
same day, the Nichiren Mission of Hawaii hosted the reception at the Ala Moana Hotel to
welcome Archbishop Kaneko and his party. A large group of Nichiren Buddhists, 150 or so,
came from Japan to join the party.
On February 19, 1978, a group of Japanese nuns headed by Reverend
Nun Chiko Kajiyama participated in the 30th Anniversary celebration of the Wahiawa
Nichiren Mission. They also held a memorial service on the following day at the Nichiren
Mission in Honolulu for the repose of those who died in the Pacific War.
List of Japanese Warriors at the Mission
One of the memorable items preserved in the Nichiren Mission of
Hawaii is the list of the Japanese military man who sacrificed their lives while attacking
Pearl Harbor. It is not widely known that 65 Japanese men died when Japan attacked Pearl
Harbor. A businessman named Hajime Akita of Zushi City, Japan, learned that no memorial
service for the repose of their souls was held in Hawaii. Not a military man himself, he
made every effort to assemble their names and other information and compiled a list of
those unfortunate war dead. He carried the list to the Buddhist temples in Honolulu,
requesting in vain, for the temples to keep it and hold a memorial service for them. The
Buddhist temples in Hawaii were afraid of provoking displeasure among Americans, refused
his request. Reverend Hori, nevertheless, dared to accept the list and recited the Lotus
Sutra for them on June 29, 1973. Mr. Heijiro Abe, who was the squad leader of the
Japanese force that attacked Pearl Harbor, later revised the list, made two copies, one of
which was enshrined at the Mission on December 7, Pearl Harbor Day, 1983. Ever since then
it has been respectfully preserved at the Mission and prayers have been said for their
souls every morning. The other copy was presented to the Arizona Memorial by Mr. Abe and
his party on December 9, 1983. The head of the Arizona Memorial has promised to preserve
it in one corner in the Memorial.
The public opinion of Americans on the Pearl Harbor Attack by
Japan is beyond the imagination of the Japanese in Japan. In 1985, the U.S. government and
the military held the 40th Anniversary services of the Pearl Harbor Attack on a grand
scale both at Pearl Harbor as well as at Punchbowl National Cemetery. On the souvenirs
distributed among the guests was written a phrase of "Remember Pearl Harbor." It
seemed as though Americans will never forget Pearl Harbor and continue to harbor ill
feeling against Japan.
Ten years later, on December 7, 1991, attending the 50th
Anniversary events commemorating the Pearl Harbor Attack, President George Bush, Sr.
however, declared to the world that the best way for us to contribute to world peace is to
forget about hatred of the past as of this day and strengthen the bond of friendship and
amity between America and Japan. The resentful words of "Remember Pearl Harbor"
was changed to "Recollection of Pearl Harbor". Besides, on September 4, 1995,
delegates of American and Japanese veterans gathered together at the Punchbowl National
Cemetery of the Pacific to hold a ceremony commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the
termination of World War II. During the ceremony they signed the "Declaration of
Friendship and Peace" and presented a memorial plaque.
Attending the Nichiren Shu Congress for the First Time
It was a precedent shattering move for the Chief Administrator
Juken Matsumura to invite Bishop Hori and Bishop Joyo Ogawa of NONA to appear at the 40th
regular session of the Nichiren Shu Congress and report on the state of affairs of the
missionary activities overseas in May, 1978. Thereafter the Nichiren Shu Order began
systematically aiding the overseas ministers in various ways such as publishing
propagation materials in English.
When it comes to a book on Nichiren Buddhism in English in those
days, there were none readily available except Nichiren: the Buddhist Prophet
(Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Press, 1949) by Dr. Masahara Anezaki. It was a
biography of Nichiren Shonin in which there was almost no explanation of Nichirens
doctrines written for lay people. There were very few other English materials readily
available for overseas ministers to spread the teaching of the Lotus Sutra. A book
summarizing Nichiren Shu briefly, comprehensively and systematically had been longed for
to enlighten non-believers as well as the Nichiren Shu followers in general. It was under
such a circumstance that the English version of the Shingyo Hikkei was published in
September, 1978. Requested by the Nichiren Shu Headquarters, it represented a one-year
effort of translation on the part of Bishop Hori, assisted by his wife, Doris Hori, and
Messrs. Eric Kawatani and Raymond Funamoto. Although it has already been a quarter of a
century since it was first published, it remains an irreplaceable teaching material
utilized daily by overseas ministers for their missionary activities.
On June 17, 1979, Hoover Tateishi passed away at the age of 50.
He is named Ichijoin Nichiyo Hosshi. Hoover, like Reverend Ryue Ikoma, was the son of a
pre-war overseas minister from Japan, Reverend Shoei Tateishi. He graduated from the
University of Hawaii and was a well-known simultaneous interpreter and radio announcer. To
our great loss, both Hoover and Reverend Ikoma passed away at a young age.
Bishop Kyotsu Hori went back to Japan in April, 1980, after
serving the Nichiren Mission as the Chief Priest for nine years. In Japan he resumed his
teaching profession as a Professor of the Tokyo Rissho Junior College for Women. Upon
retirement he returned to Hawaii, where he keeps on working on the NOPPA project of
translating and publishing the writings of Nichiren Shonin in English and supervising the
English publication of the Nichiren Shu News.
5) The Eleventh Bishop Senchu Murano
Bishop Murano was installed on September 7, 1980. He came to the
U.S.A. in 1933 as an overseas minister stationed at the Los Angeles Nichiren Temple. While
serving as the Chief Priest of the Seattle Temple, he studied at the University of
Washington until 1938, when he returned to Japan and eventually became a Professor at the
Rissho University. When he came to Hawaii as the Bishop, he was 72 years old.
On September 7, 1980, Acting Archbishop Koin Watanabe presided
over the 700th Memorial Service of our Founder Nichiren Shonin at the Nichiren Mission of
Hawaii. During the service Reverend Murano delivered his acceptance speech as the Bishop
of the Mission, but he did not actually come to Hawaii with a permanent visa until
December 22, 1980.
As in the case of many other Buddhist temples, overseas ministers
are not treated fairly. The bishops of the Nichiren Mission of Hawaii were no exception.
Their living quarters was upstairs of the office building without their own kitchen or
privacy. Finally the Mission built a separate residence for the Bishop in 1982, 25 years
after moving to the present site. It was only in 2002, when the New Main Hall was built,
that the young overseas ministers from Japan stationed at the Mission gained access to
their own kitchen facilities.
Bishop Murano had been in Hawaii only two years when he was faced
with the great task of holding a grand celebration commemorating the 80th Anniversary of
the introduction of Nichiren Buddhism in Hawaii on November 14, 1982. It was presided by
the Archbishop Nichii Kaneko of the Nichiren Shu Order, who was able to use the newly
constructed living quarters as the waiting room. For Nichiren Buddhism in Hawaii, it was
an epoch-making event. First, it was the first time that the Archbishop of Nichiren
Buddhism made a trip to Hawaii in order to participate in an event in Hawaii. It is true
that several Archbishops visited Hawaii prior to 1982, but they did so on the way back
from the mainland U.S.A. or sent someone else as acting Archbishops to officiate grand
services. Since then the top leaders of the Nichiren Shu Order such as Archbishop Nichiyu
Iwama, Chief Administrators Shokan Okumura and Shobun Nagai visited Hawaii one after
another. In the second place, it marked the beginning of interchange between Hawaii and
NONA. There had been no interchange, excepting private one, between the two. In the 80th
Anniversary celebration of the Nichiren Mission of Hawaii, however, Bishop Joyo Ogawa of
NONA, together with Reverends Yohaku Arakawa, Ryusho Matsuda, and Shokai Kanai
participated. Thereafter overseas ministers were exchanged between the two dioceses, and
the Nichiren Buddhist International Center was established to facilitate the global
interchange. Also noted is the publication of the History of Nichiren Buddhism in
Hawaii by the Mission as the 80th Anniversary commemoration project. We had no
historical record of Nichiren Buddhism in Hawaii except the Grand Memorial Celebration
Commemorating the 700th Anniversary of the Establishment of Nichiren Buddhism and the 50th
Anniversary of the Introduction of Nichiren Buddhism to Hawaii: Memorial Pictures and
Record of the Acting Chief Abbots Journey of Propagation published on October
13, 1953. What we needed was a unified, birds-eye view history of Nichiren Buddhism in
Hawaii. We may say that the History of Nichiren Buddhism in Hawaii has since been
the most reliable historical writing, without which much of our history would have been
lost forever. In writing this book, A Century of Nichiren Buddhism in Hawaii, we
are heavily dependent and grateful for it.
Publication of the Hawaii Kaikyo Jiho
The "Hawaii Kaikyo Jiho", began appearing in Japanese
in February, 1983. For the purpose of grasping the actual conditions of the missionary
activities overseas, the Nichiren shu Headquarters demanded overseas Nichiren Shu temples
to submit a monthly report on its missionary activities. Bishop Murano suggested that
these reports be put together, edited and published under the title of "Hawaii Kaikyo
Jiho (Monthly Report of Missionaries in Hawaii)". Ever since then it has been
distributed among Japanese readers in Japan. The first issue consisted of temples
report and essays of overseas ministers. In the temples report are: contents of the
Sunday services, the number of congregation attending the services, the number of services
held in the previous month, and so on. The ministerial essays are on various subjects such
as explanation of missionary activities, temples, and others. They are random in nature
and their writings have been free and uncensored.
In November 1984, another piece of scenic beauty was added to the
Mission. The Hagoromo (angels feather robe) Falls was created on the left side of
the Japanese pond. It is not a big waterfall but it is quite a scene to watch it falling
into the Japanese pond.
Speaking of the English versions of the Lotus Sutra, they
were translated mostly from Sanskrit and a few from Chinese. Although there have been a
few forms of English translations of the Lotus Sutra from Chinese (translated by
Kumarajiva, which is the basic canon of Nichiren Buddhism), it is hard for us Nichiren
Buddhists to use them because their interpretations are not always the same as ours. It
had long been hoped, therefore, that the Lotus Sutra be translated into English accurately
by a person of the Nichiren Shu Order. It was Bishop Murano who did what had been hoped.
It was in 1974 when the long awaited book was finally published, which was revised in
1991, with the cooperation of a former Greek Orthodox priest, Daniel Montgomery. We may
wonder why we had to wait for the book as Nichiren Shu Order began sending modern
missionaries overseas as long as 75 years ago. The Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the
Wonderful Dharma will be praised forever not only as a personal achievement but also
as an achievement benefiting the whole of Nichiren Buddhists.
Bishop Murano expressed his desire to retire for the reason of
his advanced age. He was 80 years old. Although temple members tried to dissuade him, he
relinquished his post on April 1, 1989, and returned to be the Resident Priest of the
Myochoji Temple in Kamakura, Japan. Nevertheless, he continued to exert himself to help
overseas missionaries by writing and publishing teaching materials in English. He passed
away at the age of 94 on January 22, 2001, and was renamed as Jirin'in Nisshu Shonin.
For a short while after his retirement until the new Bishop was
installed, Reverend Eijo Ikenaga filled the vacancy as the Acting Bishop and took charge
of the Mission as the Headquarters of the Nichiren Shu Temples in Hawaii.
6) The Twelfth Bishop Joyo Ogawa
The Chief Priest of the Sacramento Nichiren Buddhist Temple was
installed as the 12th Bishop of the Nichiren Mission on June 1, 1989. Born in a temple in
Gifu Prefecture, Japan, next to the temple of which Bishop Takagi, the founder of the
Nichiren Mission of Hawaii, had once been the Resident Priest, Bishop Ogawa came to the
U.S.A. as an overseas minister assigned to the Nichiren Temple in Los Angeles. Later he
served as the Chief Minister of the Nichiren temple in Salt Lake City, Utah, and was later
assigned to Sacramento in California. He had been the Bishop of NONA since 1977 when he
was invited to assume the leadership of the Nichiren Mission of Hawaii.
While in Sacramento, Bishop Ogawa was able to rebuild the Main
Hall and classrooms of the Sacramento Nichiren Buddhist Church. Thus he was
enthusiastically welcomed by the temple members in Hawaii who foresaw the day when their
long-cherished dream of having a formal Main Hall would come true. Such members as Nun
Myojo Uyeda, Shige Isokane, Tsuruyo Higuchi, and Chie Yamamoto pleaded with him to build
the New Main Hall. Touched by their earnest desire, Bishop Ogawa promised them that their
wish would be fulfilled.
Starting in March 1990, Sunday School children began the monthly
visit of homes for the aged such as Hawaii Select Care on the last Sunday after Sunday
services. They borrowed small pets such as rabbits from the Humane Society and took them
to comfort the old people in the homes. Later it became established as a meeting of
holding a service and conversation. This tradition continues today as a monthly visit of
the Liliha Health Care Center and Island Nursing Home on the third Tuesday by ministers
and adult members.
During the same year, the system of perpetual service for the
deceased was instituted in November. It is not unusual in American families that each
member embraces a different religion. Some children of Buddhist parents seek refuge in
Christianity. As a result, children and grandchildren of Buddhists do not hold memorial
service for their parents or ancestors, and not a small number of Buddhists become
"the deceased without relatives" upon death. Needless to say there are many
people who have no children or grandchildren. The system of perpetual service for the
deceased was designed and initiated by Bishop Ogawa in order for the Temple to hold
memorial services for them forever after their death.
The first Sunday School Seminar was held at the Wood Valley
Temple on the island of Hawaii for three days and two nights from May 25-27, 1991. In July
of the same year, the address of the Mission was changed from 3058 Pali Highway to 33
Pulelehua Way. It is true that the Temple faces the Pali Highway, but many tall trees hide
the view of the Temple from the Highway, so it was decided that the Pulelehua Way, though
short and almost unknown, is the practical way to find the Temple.
In commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Pearl Harbor
Attack, a memorial service was held on June 3, 1992, for the repose of those Americans and
Japanese who lost their lives during the incident. It was held at the Nichiren Mission,
where the list of Japanese navy men who died on the Pearl Harbor Day 50 years before had
been enshrined. Veterans of the former Japanese Navy Air Force Squadron and their
families, 320 or so in number came from Japan to pay homage while American Navy officers
in active service as well as veterans, too, participated in the service. It was impressive
to watch them pray together for the war dead beyond love and hate. During the service,
Bishop Ogawa made an impressive speech preaching to forget about such slogans as
"Remember Pearl Harbor!", "No More Hiroshima!", and "No More
Nagasaki!" and work together for world peace under the new slogans of "Peace
from Pearl Harbor!", "Peace from Hiroshima!", and "Peace from
Soon after the 50th Memorial Service for the War Dead at Pearl
Harbor, the Mission began preparing for the 90th Commemoration of the Anniversary of the
Introduction of Nichiren Buddhism. One of the pending projects was the renovation of the
existing patio on right side of the Main Hall. It could hold 120 or so people but the
floor was about 20 inches lower than the floor of the existing Main Hall, making it
difficult, even dangerous, for the aged members to move between the two. So the patio
floor was raised by about 20 inches so that if the Main Hall could not hold all the
visitors, the remainder could stay in the patio to participate in the service in the Main
On August 30, 1992, Archbishop Nichiyu Iwama presided over the
Grand Ceremony in Commemoration of the 90th Anniversary of the Introduction of Nichiren
Buddhism to Hawaii at the Mission. A significant welcoming party was held at the Hyatt
Regency Hotel in Waikiki on the previous evening. Over 400 devotees including those from
Japan overflowed the "Temporary Main Hall" in which the Grand Ceremony was held.
In 1994, the 700th Memorial Year of Nichiji Shonin, the precursor
of the Nichiren Shu missionaries abroad, Bishop Ogawa led a group of Nichiren Buddhists to
Japan to participate in the Grand Assembly in Commemoration of the 700th Memorial Year of
Nichiji Shonin, which was held on April 23rd at the Civic Gymnasium in Hakodate, Hokkaido.
They also attended on April 26th the unveiling ceremony of the "Monument of the
Deceased Overseas Ministers" erected in front of the Founders Mausoleum on Mt.
On September 4th of the same year, Chief Administrator Shokan
Okumura came from Tokyo to preside at the Grand Memorial Service in Hawaii Commemorating
the 700th Year after the Passing Away of Nichiji Shonin, which was held at the Nichiren
Mission of Hawaii. While in Hawaii, the Chief Administrator visited each of the five
Nichiren Shu temples, three on the island of Oahu, one each on the islands of Maui and
Hawaii. It was the first time that the incumbent Chief Administrator of Nichiren Shu
visited all the Nichiren temples existing in Hawaii.
It has been an established tradition that the Nichiren Mission of
Hawaii has never discontinued the weekly Sunday service except when the Mission holds the
annual Sunrise Service at the Blow Hole to commemorate the Birth of Nichiren Buddhism and
joins the Hawaii Buddhist Council to hold the annual celebrations for the birth of the
Buddha (Hanamatsuri) and His attainment of Buddhahood (Bodhi Day). When the Nichiren YBA
was reactivated (having monthly volleyball tournaments against other YBA groups since May,
1991 or joining the Sunday School staff to plan and execute various events for children),
it was decided that they deserved to have a YBA Day. Starting in 1995, every fifth Sunday
has been designated as the YBA Day, in which the Temple has no Sunday Service at 10:00
a.m. (although the early morning service at 6:30 a.m. still continued) in order to
encourage the YBA activities.
The ministerial assembly of 1995 resolved that the Rainbow
Project be pressed forward in commemoration of the 750th Anniversary of the establishment
of Nichiren Buddhism. It called for the seven-year plan for the purpose of promoting
interchange among all Nichiren temples in Hawaii and jointly carrying out various
projects. Previously, Nichiren temples in Hawaii had been rather independent of each other
as there were no events in which the participation of all temples was necessary. The
Rainbow Project attempted to change this.
The first Rainbow Conference was held at the Nichiren Mission of
Hawaii on June 2, 1996. The delegates of supportive groups of each temple, such as the
Board of Directors, Womens Club, and YBA, got together to discuss the annual
activity plans for each group as well as joint projects. The resolutions of this annual
Rainbow Conference provided the basis for the projects in commemoration of the 750th
Anniversary of the establishment of Nichiren Buddhism.
Construction of the New Main Hall)
Finally the first step forward was taken toward the fulfillment
of the cherished dream. It was on October 6, 1996, when the Building Project Committee was
formed with President Francis Sonomura as its chairman. It was the committee for the
realization of the "formal" Main Hall, which had been a long-cherished wish of
the Temple ever since it moved from Barron Lane to the present site in 1957.
The Grand Assembly of the Nichiren Shu Order, was held at the
Yokohama Arena on May 28 to kick off the general campaign with the vow to spread the Odaimoku
in commemoration of the 750th Anniversary of the Proclamation of Nichiren Buddhism by our
Founder. Likewise, we, Nichiren Buddhists in Hawaii held our grand assembly to kick off
our campaign with the vow of successful conclusion of our memorial projects in
commemoration of the 750th Anniversary of the Proclamation of Nichiren Buddhism and the
Centennial of the Introduction of Nichiren Buddhism to Hawaii on August 24th of the same
year, 1997. The first part of the assembly was a solemn prayer service presided by Chief
Administrator Shobun Nagai. It was participated by kito masters from the Western District
of Tokyo led by Reverend Josho Ueda, Director of the Overseas Propagation Bureau in the
Nichiren Shu Headquarters. The second part of the event took place at the Ala Moana Hotel,
where a program began with the introduction of the "torch of the vow", which was
taken from the assembly meeting at the Yokohama Arena. The representatives of the United
Boards of Directors Association in Hawaii, United Womens Association in Hawaii and
the United YBA vowed in front of the Chief Administrator to complete the Commemorative
projects while all participants in the meeting vowed to help them.
According to the vow declared in the grand kick off assembly, the
Mission began to raise funds needed for the construction of the New Main Hall. Tracing the
documents of the Mission, the fund raising attempts were already made in 1974 or
thereabout. Those attempts, however, do not seem to have been very serious in those days.
When Eric Kawatani, Vice President of the Mission, was elected the Chairman of the
Building Fund Committee for the New Main Hall, the campaign to raise funds gained
momentum. With the cooperation of the Nichiren Shu Overseas Propagation Promotion
Association (NOPPA), Bishop Ogawa began to raise funds in Japan day and night. There is no
doubt that without his efforts, it would not have been possible for members to see their
dream come true. This should be specially noted in the history of the Nichiren Mission of
Hawaii. Reverend Chishin Hirai, who had been at the Mission as an assistant minister in
1993-96 and who had been trying to establish a new Nichiren Mission in London, came back
to the Hawaii Mission as an Associate Minister to help the Bishop build the New Main Hall.
On December 7, 2000, workers began to tear down the
"temporary" Main Hall of the Mission. Everyone, who had to deal with all the
paperwork, sighed with relief. Those members who passed away while dreaming of the new
Main Hall must have been pleased to see the old one being torn down. The Gohonzon
(the Most Venerable One) was moved to the Lotus room of the Office Building on October
22nd, and Sunday service as well as memorial and other services were held there.
On December 17, 2000, a solemn ground breaking service was held
with the help extended by the NOPPA and the Kito Priest Association of the Western
Tokyo District. It was a formal grand ceremony rarely seen even in Japan. Those who
attended it were all deeply impressed. They seemed most interested in the part of the
ceremony in which architects and others dug the soil with hoes or shovels. Many said later
that they wanted to participate in doing that part of the ceremony.
After a year and ten months of struggle against technological
difficulties, the new Main Hall was finally completed at the cost of $4,500,000. The new
building housing the center for the practice of the Lotus teaching was designed by
Architect Thomas Katsuyoshi. It is a beautiful building symbolizing a lotus flower. The
Main Hall on the second floor measures about 50 feet in width and 100 feet in length, and
the first floor is divided into a social hall, kitchen, restrooms, a storage room, etc. On
September 15, 2002, the Opening Ceremony was held by all the overseas ministers in Hawaii
led by Bishop Ogawa and attended by Nichiren Buddhists numbering 250 or so, all with tears
rolling down their cheeks.
The Great Mandala Gohonzon of the Nichiren Mission of
The Great Mandala Gohonzon enshrined in the Nichiren
Mission of Hawaii is said to have been made by Nichiren Shonin himself on the 15th of the
8th month in the 1st year of the Koan Era (1278). Attached to this Gohonzon were
the two deeds written by Isshoin Nichii Shonin, who was the 12th Resident Minister of the
Chomyoji Temple in Kyoto and 30th Abbot of the Hokekyoji Temple in Nakayama, and Yuimyoin
Nichidatsu Shonin, who was the 34th Abbot of the Honkokuji Temple in Kyoto. The deed of
Nichii Shonin was dated in 1675 and that of Nichidatsu Shonin in 1789 so that it is
conceivable that the Gohonzon had been preserved at the Honkokuji Temple or had
been somehow moved from the Hokekyoji to the Honkokuji. As we have no record, we can only
conjecture how such a precious Great Mandala Gohonzon came to Hawaii.
It had been believed that Reverend Nichimyo Asahi, who was the
forerunner of the missionaries in modern times, Archbishop of the Nichiren Shu and Abbot
of the Honkokuji Temple, chose it among the treasures of the Honkokuji Temple and gave it
to Reverend Gyoun Takagi, who was about to make a voyage to Hawaii alone by command of the
Nichiren Shu Order, expecting him to spread the Odaimoku from the U.S. to all over
the world. However, while compiling the 100-year History of Nichiren Buddhism in Hawaii,
we researched into the history of the modern Nichiren Shu, in which Nichimyo Asahi played
an important role, finding that it is untenable to support this conclusion. As stated
earlier there is no doubt that Gyoun Takagi came to Hawaii in 1899.
On the other hand Reverend Asahi became the President of the
Nichiren Shu Overseas Propagation Association in 1897 and resigned as the Abbot of the
Myokakuji Temple in Kyoto in order to concentrate on propagation abroad. It was not until
October, 1902, that he was installed as the Abbot of the Honkokuji Temple, and it is
inconceivable that he took out a treasure of the Honkokuji Temple to give it away. The
revelation of a new fact, however, seems to explain how the treasured Gohonzon came
to Hawaii from the Honkokuji Temple. The Archbishop of the Nichiren Shu was Abbot Nichigo
Imamura of the Honkokuji Temple at the time when Gyoun Takagi came to Hawaii as a Nichiren
Shu overseas missionary. So, isnt it possible to replace the name of the person who
gave the Gohonzon to Reverend Takagi from Nichimyo Asahi to Nichigo Iwamura? After
all the relationship between the Archbishop Iwamura and overseas minister Takagi was the
one between the person who went to Hawaii by the order of the Nichiren Shu Order and the
person who issued the order.
If we insist on the name of Nichimyo Shonin, it is more likely
that the gift was presented not in 1899 but in 1915, when he as the former Archbishop of
the Nichiren Shu Order made a trip to the U.S.A. to attend the World Buddhist Convention
in San Francisco. On the way, both going and returning, he visited the Nichiren temples in
Hawaii. The former Archbishop Asahi was then the Abbot of the Honkokuji Temple and it is
conceivable that he presented the precious gift of the Great Mandala Gohonzon to
the Nichiren Mission of Hawaii. At the same time Abbot Asahi made a gift of Mandala Gohonzon
written by himself to Reverend Nunome of the Kapapala Nichiren Mission, which is now
preserved at the Hilo Nichiren Mission.
Reverend Takagi had already been in Honolulu for two years,
establishing the Honolulu Nichiren Shu Church, the substance of the present Nichiren
Mission of Hawaii, with the membership of 280. In the previous year in September, 1914,
moreover, he had purchased half an acre plot at the cost of $3,500 for the projected
formal temple. The new Honolulu Nichiren Shu Church consisting of the Main Hall (39
by 42 in size) and residential quarters was completed and dedicated on October 14,
1917, at the cost of $15,000.
Under the circumstance, it is also conceivable that the former
Archbishop Asahi presented the genuine writing of our Founder to the Honolulu Nichiren Shu
Church and his handwritten Gohonzon to the Kapapala Nichiren Church.
Upon the completion of the New Main Hall of the Nichiren Mission
of Hawaii in commemoration of the centennial of the introduction of Nichiren Buddhism to
Hawaii, this Mandala Gohonzon written by our Founder himself was restored to its
original condition and carefully mounted by the Wakabayashi Buddhist Altar Fittings
Manufacturing Company of Kyoto, Japan, so that it will last forever. It is now enshrined
in the New Main Hall, of reinforced concrete, fireproof building of the Mission.