HHMH Concludes 112th Legislative Assembly (Giseikai)

Delegates and observers from Jodo Shinshu temples around the state convened in Honolulu and online via Zoom on February 9-10, 2024, for the Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii’s 112th Legislative Assembly, or Giseikai.  The delegates took part in business matters, such as discussing and approving the 2024 budget and passing resolutions, and benefited from presentations on fundraising, Pacific Buddhist Academy, the Lahaina wildfire disaster, Jr. YBA, and other topics. Each day began with a service in the Honpa Hongwanji Hawaii Betsuin hondo prior to the business meetings in the Social Hall.

Emi Hashi - Friday service emcee for 2024 Giseikai
Friday emcee Emi Hashi, HHMH Youth Specialist
Alan Goto, delivering the welcome message at the Giseikai 2024 opening service
Alan Goto, opening service welcome message
Rimban Yuika Hasebe, dharma message at Friday service, 2024 Giseikai
Rimban Yuika Hasebe, dharma message
Board installation at the 2024 Giseikai
Bishop Umitani installs the Board of Directors and Sanmu and Kanji Ministers.
Board installation at the 2024 Giseikai
Turning to face the assembled service attendees during the installation.
Legislative Assembly 2024 - morning service in the Honpa Hongwanji Hawaii Betsuin Hondo


One feature of the morning services during Giseikai is the rich sound of so many voices — especially those of the ministers — filling the temple hall during chanting and gathas. Thanks to Zoom, the voices and video images were conveyed to our remote Giseikai participants as well, and both services were recorded. Each service had special elements we may be able to share with a wider audience.

The opening service, which also served as the HHMH 135th Anniversary Memorial Service, was emceed by Youth Specialist Emi Hashi. The service included a prelude offering by the Honpa Hongwanji Choir, a new style of chanting Shoshinge, a message from the Governor General of Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha (read by Rev. Sol Kalu), a welcome message by Alan Goto, and a dharma message by Hawaii Betsuin chief minister Rev. Yuika Hasebe. We shared a moment of silence for 2023 Ingo recipients and all deceased Hawaii Kyodan ministers and members. Ingo recipients:

  • Norman Mitsuyuki Sakata (Kona)
  • Harry Masayoshi Akazawa (West Kauai)
  • Jay Kunio Hamai (Moiliili)
  • Steven Don Lee (Kahului)
  • Mary Okada Fujitani (Hawaii Betsuin)
  • Alice Yamada (Kapaa)

The second day’s service, emceed by Chihiro Okawa of Junior YBA, included the installation of the Board of Directors, Sanmu, and Kanji Ministers, as well as picture-taking. An official photo is available.

Business Meetings

At the business meetings, delegates considered and voted on several resolutions. There was significant discussion about the 2024 subsidy for Pacific Buddhist Academy. After discussion, a decision about whether to renew the subsidy and where the funds would come from was delegated to the board of directors, who some argued were perhaps in the best position to get additional information and decide.

Another budget-related matter was whether to forgive Lahaina Hongwanji’s annual assessments for the second half of 2023 and the full calendar years of 2024, 2025, and 2026 in the aftermath of the wildfire disaster. The draft budget proposed to spread out an equivalent increase in assessments among all the other temples. After discussion, it was decided that Lahaina’s assessment would be forgiven, but that the funding would not be from increasing assessments on other temples. With the proviso that the Capital Fund also be ruled out as a source, the matter was delegated to the board to determine the source of funds.

Interspersed with the business matters were presentations:

  • HHMH President Dr. Warren Tamamoto, Irene Nakamoto, Carolyn Uchiyama, and Terry Jean Arakaki reported on a new, statewide Hongwanji endowment called the Living Gratitude Fund.
  • Sanae Tokumura gave a fundraising presentation entitled, “Pursuing Your Vision: What Nonprofit Leaders Need to Know.” Mr. Ivan Nakano of Hilo Betsuin joined Ms. Tokumura for a dialogue about the successes of the Hilo Hongwanji Preschool Capital Campaign.
  • Pacific Buddhist Academy Head of School Josh Hernandez Morse updated the assembly on developments at PBA, including accreditation; peace activities; planning, finances, and marketing; and highlighted multiple high-achieving students and programs.
    PBA presentation at 2024 Giseikai by Josh Hernandez Morse. Hybrid station visible at right.
    Presentation on Pacific Buddhist Academy by Head of School Josh Hernandez Morse. The hybrid station for Zooming the meetings is visible at right.
  • In a particularly affecting presentation, Rev. Ai Hironaka shared dramatic photos and videos of the Lahaina fire and the post-fire condition of Lahaina Hongwanji. He related what the temple sangha and wider community members are going through due to the fire.
  • Finally, as part of the Saturday session, Junior YBA members gave an informative and well-received slide presentation of their activities. (See photo at that top of the article.)

In addition, attendees were able to hear from our overseas guests representing Buddhist Churches of America (Glenn and Michiko Inanaga), Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Temples of Canada (Laura Sugimoto), and the Jodo Shinshu International Office (Rev. Kiyonobu Kuwahara). The mutual sharing with our overseas guests is one of the many valued aspects of Giseikai.

“Rap” Session

Rap Session with Dr. Jeff Wilson (projected on screen via Zoom) prior to the 2024 Legislative Assembly
Dr. Jeff Wilson was the rap session speaker and came to us via Zoom from Waterloo, Ontario.

As is tradition, on the evening prior to the Legislative Assembly, some delegates and observers gathered for a “rap session” to discuss a topic of interest to temple sanghas. (For our younger readers, “rap session” is an old-school term for getting together to talk story, not an event where we attempt to express ourselves through hip-hop music.) About one-third of the attendees were in person and two-thirds on Zoom.

The speaker was Dr. Jeff Wilson of Waterloo, Ontario, the author of Living Nembutsu: Applying Shinran’s Radically Engaged Buddhism in Life and Society. The theme was “Engaged Buddhism for Engaging Youth.” Dr. Wilson related fascinating information about engaged Shin Buddhists in the 1970s and now, and shared insights into youth perspectives and priorities when it comes to getting involved. A key factor: “Will there be people my own age at the event?” We recorded the session, and assuming permissions allow, will make it available.

Living Treasures

Another Giseikai-adjacent event is the Giseikai Aloha Luncheon and Living Treasures of Hawai’i™ Recognition Program, held this year on February 10 after the conclusion of the Legislative Assembly. But that is a story for another article! In the meantime, you can see information about the five honorees at hongwanjihawaii.com/living-treasures. Next year (2025) will be the 50th Living Treasures event!

As we look forward to the Triple Celebration in September, we hope this article has given you some additional insight into the Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii, which turns 135 years old in 2024. Thank you for your interest and support for this statewide organization, important in the histories of both Jodo Shinshu and Hawaii.