Japan Tour 2016

Japan Tour

Following the Footsteps of Buddha

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We just got back from an amazing 14 day tour which included many friends, family and Jodo Shinshu temple members from across Canada. The group of 24 people was led by Roy and Itoko Akune who were going to India for the 3rd time.

The first week covered what is referred to as the “Golden Triangle”: Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. We visited popular tourist attractions such as the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, Fatehpur Sikri, City Palace, Jantar-Mantar Observatory, the Pink City, and Amber Fort. We began the pilgrimage portion of the trip the second week. We flew to Varanasi and proceeded by bus to historical sites where the Buddha spent critical periods of his life. In Sarnath, the Buddha gave his first sermon. In Bodhgaya he spent 6 years in penance in a mountain cave, Dungeshwari, then renounced his austere practice to take a more moderate approach.

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Time for reflection under Mahabodhi Tree (photo by Brenda Ikuta)

We visited the Mahabodhi Temple and the Mahabodhi tree, said to be a descendent of the original Bodhi Tree under which the Buddha attained enlightenment. We visited Vultures Peak where Buddha preached the Larger Sukhavati Vyuha Sutra and the site of Nalanda University, the oldest Buddhist university. We visited Vaishali where he spent his last rainy season and Kushinagar where he passed away. We crossed into Nepal to visit Lumbini, the sacred garden where he was born. We ended with Sravasti where he spent 24 rain retreats.

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A service at Vultures Peak overlooking the Valley where the Larger Sukhavati Sutra (Jodo Shinshu) was delivered to the 1500 Bikkhus. (photo Brenda Ikuta)

India is definitely a land of dramatic contrasts, overwhelming sights and sounds, unbelievable experiences around every corner, and is steeped in a history that includes a diversity of cultures and religions. Our guides spoke English and were extremely knowledgeable in the history of Buddhism and Indian culture. They organized a variety of experiences for us which included a tour of the National Art Museum, rixe/rickshaw rides through the byways of old Delhi, an elephant ride to the Amber Fort, boat excursions on the Ganges River, visits to government approved traditional craft and textile cooperatives, and an opportunity to enjoy traditional dance and music. We were able to visit amazing temples from a variety of religions (Islam, Hindu, Jain, Baha’i) and Buddhist sects (Thai, Bhutanese, Japanese, Tibetan). The transportation experience in itself was memorable; our drivers were thankfully very adept at maneuvering the incredible traffic and road conditions.

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This cave was just below Vultures Peak where they believe Buddha stayed during some of his rain retreats. (photo Brenda Ikuta)

The group was wonderfully cohesive and we have spent the last few weeks sharing our reflections and post-trip learning as we try to understand our experiences better. Our deepest gratitude to our leaders, Roy and Itoko, who spent countless hours coordinating with the tour company both before and during the trip - such generosity and warmth in looking out for all of us! It was wonderful to have an opportunity to experience situations with a Jodo Shinshu perspective and to have services at many meaningful sites. We have a lot to process in the coming months. Some of us will be available to share more information with Temple members so stay tuned. And please consider joining one of these JSBTC pilgrimages if you are able to in the future…they are well worth it!!

In gassho,

Brenda Ikuta

Remembering Sensei Michael

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To Temples, board members, members and friends,

Reverend Michael Hayashi entered the Pure Land at 2:50 pm CST Dec 4, 2015. His family was by his side and he passed away peacefully while listening to one of his favorite songs "Dust to Dust" by The Civil Wars.

Sensei Michael was admitted to the Winnipeg Health Sciences Centre on November 21st. As it became apparent that he had incurable stomach cancer, his wife Kiyomi and their family, his aunts and uncles, sister and mother and many friends came to comfort him. Koden (donation to the family as an offering of condolences and to assist with expenses). Those who would like to help the family with expenses during this time may make a contribution through this service. The Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Temples of Canada is working with the Vancouver Buddhist Temple to provide this vehicle. Please note that contributions do not qualify for CRA Tax receipts.

The JSBTC has consulted with the family on how we can convey messages of support and how to help with the many expenses the family faces.

Loving Thoughts and Financial Gratitude 

1. By mail addressed to: 

Kiyomi Hayashi and family c/o JSBTC 
220 Jackson Ave
Vancouver B.C. V6A 3B3

Cheques should be payable to: Kiyomi Hayashi
Please include your name, address or email in your message.

2. At your local Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Temple:

Temples will accept sealed envelopes containing cards and cheques marked with your name and address. Please avoid using cash however if this is necessary, include your name and address.

3. Click on the green button to send a donation by credit card (in Canada and abroad):

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The service costs approximately $0.60 plus 5.5% of the transaction amount. The family will receive the net amount. This service may be available on other temple websites as well. This method will be available at least until January 1, 2016 and may be extended further.

Please note that financial support of this nature does not qualify for CRA tax receipts

On behalf of the JSBTC and Bishop Tatsuya Aoki,

Trudy Gahlinger, JSBTC Secretary

Calgary Embraced by the Oneness of Light

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Embraced by the Oneness of Life was the recurring theme experienced by almost 1,800 Buddhists from Japan, Brazil, the U.S., Canada and Hawaii who attended the World Buddhist Women’s Convention in Calgary, Alberta, May 30 & 31, 2015.  From the majestic and moving opening ceremony to the equally significant closing, there was music, dancing, visiting, chanting, and inspiring dharma messages bringing laughter and tears, stimulating the mind and warming the heart.

We were honored to have the attendance and participation of his Eminence Monshu Ohtani Kojun (Sennyo Monshu). “Gomonshu-sama” as he is called by Jodo Shinshu followers is the 25th generation Sennyo Monshu or Hongwanji head priest.

The keynote speakers, Reverend Nana Yanase from Japan and Reverend Patricia Kanaya Usuki, born in Canada and living in the USA, shared the dharma through music, life stories and a broad experience and knowledge of the teachings.  A panel, comprised of women from each of the Districts, touchingly described their personal pathways in and towards embracing the dharma.
Workshops themed on the Eight-Fold Path provided food for the body, mind and spirit with activities to match that included dancing, singing, writing, and exercising.  There were stimulating opportunities to learn more about music, history, art and self-reflection …all in the context of Buddhism and the Oneness of Life.

Over meals and during breaks, participants were able to meet and socialize, culminating in the dinner banquet where each table was arranged with a mix of delegates from each country.  The banquet portion of the evening included a singing performance from Reverend Nana Yanase and entertainment from the District countries.  A highlight was the joining of performers and delegates, including the Gomonshu-sama and other dignitaries in the favorite odori Tanko Busshi.  To close the evening entertainment, dancers from across Canada performed a lively zumba to the tune of The Best Day of Our Lives.
The Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Temples of Canada Women’s Federation, together with the temples across Canada have worked together to provide a successful and memorable experience.  Despite being a small Sangha with limited resources and spread across a large country geographically, we are grateful that all those who came from around the world to Calgary enjoyed this convention and fulfilled our hope for a memorable experience where we were truly “Embraced by the Oneness of Life”.

As with previous years, a post convention report will be published and will contain a text copy of all the speeches as well as many photos.  A DVD of the convention and a full version of the keynote speakers is planned and will hopefully be available soon.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, the Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Temples of Canada handed the World Buddhist Women’s Convention flag to the Buddhist Churches of America Buddhist Women’s Association who will host the next World Buddhist Women’s Convention, August 30 to September 1, 2019 in San Francisco, California.  See you there!


Article courtesy of the Hamilton Buddhist Temple
Photos courtesy of the Manitoba Buddhist Temple

What I did on my Summer Vacation

In July 2014 , Anthony Chor of Vancouver, B.C. attended the Young Buddhist International Cultural Study Exchange reunion in Berkeley, California. It was an opportunity to reunite with friends he met five years earlier on a trip to the Hongwanji in Kyoto. Anthony attended the event with the assistance of the JSBTC Living Dharma Centre.


Trip Report by Anthony Chor, YBICSE 2014

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Sensei Kuwahara, Anthony Chor, and Socho Aoki

In 2009, I went to Japan on YBICSE (Young Buddhist International Cultural Study Exchange) for which I am extremely grateful for.

Five years later, I had the wonderful opportunity of going to the Jodo Shinshu Center in Berkeley for the YBICSE reunion where past YBICSE participants got to meet up with old friends and meet new ones to share experiences and create new memories.

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We learned things like setting up the naijin (the obupan goes over your head to keep it away from your breath), how to properly ring the kansho (imagine a journey up and down the hills of San Francisco), and the role of the chant leader (chosho/doshin is always right).

And much like at the Hongwanji, each day started with a morning service where we used our new-found knowledge to take part in each of the services.

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One final highlight of the reunion was the Mountainview Obon. In preparation, we created Obon dances. The gentlemen created a snappy, rather dapper dance to “Happy” [Pharrell Williams], while the ladies danced the story of YBICSE to “Rather Be” [Clean Bandit]. “Rather Be” quickly became the anthem of the weekend (“With every step we take, Kyoto to the Bay”).

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We also made our own FAN-tastic uchiwa in preparation for the Mountainview Obon... which... was... HUGE!

With three crowded lines, a mid-center stage, and a live band – saxophones and singers included – the Obon was phenomenal! (They played this great jazz rendition of tanko bushi.)

And what is a Jodo Shinshu event without food? We shared dining experiences including a blind-mute meal where half of us were blindfolded while the other half could see but couldn't speak. That was a really neat (and quiet) experience! We also experienced delicious ramen prepared by the Senseis!

Without Aoki Socho and Kuwahara Sensei’s enthusiasm with YBICSE, none of this would have happened. The organizing committee created a fantastic, dharmarific weekend. “When I am with you, there's no place I'd rather be.”