2024 New Year’s message from President Warren Tamamoto

Dr. Warren Tamamoto in formal wear

Happy New Year! Akemashite Omedetou Gozaimasu! Hauoli Makahiki Hou!

I hope that you and your loved ones are healthy and in good spirits as we enter the New Year, 2024. The year 2023 was an eventful one. Many of our Sangha were able to attend the Joint Celebration (Commemoration of the 850th Anniversary of Shinran Shonin’s Birth and the 800th Anniversary of the Establishment of the Jodo Shinshu Teaching) at our Honzan in Kyoto on May 10, 2023. The Joint Celebration program was well organized and meaningful. The 17th World Buddhist Women’s Convention (WBWC) followed on May 11 and 12 at the modern (although 50 years old) Kyoto International Conference Center. These two events were a highlight of the year for those who were able to attend. I will always remember the warm welcome that we received from our hosts at the Honzan and at the World Buddhist Women’s Convention.

Soon after our return from Japan, we said “Mahalo and Aloha” to outgoing Bishop, Rev. Eric Matsumoto, Mrs. Tamayo Matsumoto, Chika and Caden at a luncheon in July. In August we warmly greeted incoming Bishop Toshiyuki Umitani, Mrs. Yoshiko Umitani, and daughters Naho and Riho at a luncheon.

Then, the disastrous Maui Wildfires of August 8, 2023 destroyed the historic town of Lahaina. Our Lahaina Hongwanji Mission, located near the center of the town was not spared. The temple, social hall, and minister’s residence burned to the ground. Only the columbarium appears to have survived the fire. Fortunately, Rev. Ai Hironaka and family along with many other temple members evacuated in time. However, we have learned that one temple member lost his life in that fire. It appears that 2023 will be remembered as the year of the Maui Wildfires and the year that Lahaina Hongwanji was lost to the fire. This was a great loss for Lahaina town and the entire Hawaii Sangha.

However, this was not the end of the story. Community, state and federal agencies rushed into action and are still on the ground in Maui, planning for the future of Lahaina town and helping those displaced by the fire. Maui temple ministers and Sangha have warmly supported Lahaina members displaced by the fire. The Hongwanji community statewide, nationally and internationally has responded with compassionate action in the form of postcards, letters, gifts and generous monetary donations. Like the recent “disaster” that affected us, the COVID-19 pandemic, we learned that we are adaptable and we are resilient. The Lahaina community, and Lahaina Hongwanji Sangha in particular, I believe will respond with grit and determination.

Our theme and slogan for 2024 is “Building Healthy Sanghas: Sharing Nembutsu Moments.” We live with joy and gratitude for Amidaʻs universal and unconditional compassion for us. Since we are connected with and care for the people around us, we share our Nembutsu moments, so that others may awaken to, and appreciate the Buddhaʻs limitless Compassion. In this way, we can each contribute to building healthy Sanghas.

With Gassho,

Warren Tamamoto MD
President, Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii

See Also
2024 New Year’s Greetings from His Eminence Gomonshu Kojun Ohtani
2024 New Year’s Message from Bishop Eric Matsumoto