Hawaii Island Hongwanji members and friends gathered at Hilo Betsuin’s Sangha Hall on Saturday and Sunday, October 12-13, to commemorate the 130th anniversary of the Honpa Hongwanji Buddhist organization in Hawaii.
Saturday’s program featured a series of presentations on the history of Hongwanji and Japanese immigrants in Hawaii as well as contemporary topics such as Buddhism and youth engagement, Buddhist weddings, and homelessness. Attendees were treated to a performance by the Puna Taiko group.
On Sunday, Bishop Eric Matsumoto officiated a 130th Anniversary Service at which Rev. Katsuya Kusunoki, the chief minister at Seattle Betsuin, was the guest speaker. His talk, entitled “How joyous it is that I am a Shin Buddhist,” is available in a video of the service shared by Puna Hongwanji (link is queued to the Dharma talk portion, Facebook account not required). After the service, there was food, fellowship, and a panel discussion by ministers and members entitled “NA-MO A-MI-DA BU-TSU, Find Out What It Means to Me.”
1889 is considered the year of Honpa Hongwanji’s establishment in Hawaii. It was March 2, 1889 when Rev. Soryu Kagahi landed in Honolulu. The next day, he conducted the first Shin Buddhist service in the Islands at the Kojima Hotel. He soon traveled to Hawaii Island, and, by the end of April 1889, construction of a modest temple on Hilo’s Front Street was complete.* (For more history, see our History page.)
The Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii 130th Anniversary events in Hilo were sponsored by the Hawaii Island Hongwanji Council and the HHMH Office of Buddhist Education. These and related commemoration events help us appreciate and understand the profound legacy of Hongwanji in Hawaii as we look ahead to the next 130 years of sharing the Dharma.
Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii shares the living teachings of Jodo Shinshu Buddhism so that all beings may enjoy lives of harmony, peace, and gratitude.
* Information on the first Hongwanji temple in Hawaii comes from Buddhism in Hawaii by Louise H. Hunter, 1971, p. 42. A review of maps shows that Front Street was later renamed Kamehameha Ave.