The Kona Hongwanji Buddhist Temple, which follows Japan’s Pure Land tradition, celebrated 125 years of service this weekend with dance performances, a craft fair, a parade, Buddhist services, rites and rituals.
The temple was established as the Kona Hongwanji Mission in 1897 to serve the growing Japanese immigrant community on the Big Island of Hawaii. Today, the temple serves a thriving community including people of Japanese and non-Japanese ancestry. Several affiliated groups use the temple, including the Buddhist Women’s Association, a men’s group, a Dharma school, a scout troop, a judo club, and more.
The mission began to serve Shin Buddhists in the region with simple services. Within two years, he was moved to the neighboring region of Kainaliu. In 1906 it moved again to its current location in Kealakekua. The area became known for its coffee plantations, and today Kona coffee is known around the world.
The mission now houses the temple, a parsonage, a social hall, a kitchen, and a kindergarten.
The celebrations kicked off on October 15 with a Bon Dance – a traditional Japanese celebration of ancestors – the first time the temple has held the dance since 2019. The dance was accompanied by Taiko drums and traditional paper lanterns. As part of the dance, many participants wore traditional outfits following the hand movements and footsteps intended to accompany each song. Hundreds of spectators turned out to celebrate.
As a rule, Bon (or Obon) is celebrated in summer, in July or August. However, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has led temples across the island to maintain a pause on events until recently. Kona Hongwanji members decided to incorporate the practice into anniversary celebrations.
“As we celebrate 125 years of service to the community, Kona Hongwanji Buddhist Temple remains dedicated to sharing the teachings of Neumbutsu so that we can realize a society in which everyone is able to live a life of harmony, peace and harmony. gratitude,” said mission bishop Eric Matsumoto. (Hawaii Tribune-Herald)
On October 16, the celebrations continued with a Chigo Parade, a party featuring children dressed in traditional kimonos and other adornments to represent celestial beings. After the parade, a service was held, presided over by Bishop Matsumoto. Later, a lunch was offered and then those who wished to participate were given Buddhist names. For their latest activity, temple members began filling a time capsule, which is scheduled to open in 50 years.
“Looking 125 years into the future, what will people say about Kona Hongwanji?” asked Kyodan President Linda Nagai. “I believe that with our dedicated sangha members and Reverend Blaine Higa leading the next generation, the history of our vibrant Dharma-centered community will continue to be written for a new era.” (Hawaii Tribune-Herald)
Following the activities, Kona Hongwanji posted on her Facebook page, “We had a wonderful weekend of events celebrating our 125th anniversary! The post continues: “A big mahalo to everyone who came to celebrate with us. We even made the front page of the Western Hawaii today! What a series of joyful and memorable events for our sangha and the whole community! We are deeply grateful. Namo Amida Butsu! (Facebook)
Kona Hongwanji Buddhist Temple celebrates 125 years with Bon Dance (Hawaii Tribune-Herald)
The Kona Hongwanji Buddhist temple celebrates its 125th anniversary (Western Hawaii today)
Kona Hongwanji (Facebook)
BDG Related News Reports
Jodo Shinshu Buddhist temple in Hawaiʻi faces dip in attendance
Obon Buddhist Festival returns to Southern California after COVID-free
A Buddhist priest in Hawai’i turns to acceptance as he prays for an end to COVID-19
Hawaiian Buddhists hold global services for International Day of Peace
BDG Related Features
Book Review: Pure Land: History, Tradition and Practice
Bon Odori: A dance with the ancestors
Dance as knowledge, part two: Wu Nuo
Daisetsu Teitaro Suzuki: “Suzuki Zen”