Taishöji Sötö Mission celebrated the 100th anniversary of its founding with a commemorative service and luncheon on Oct. 16. The theme of the celebration was “Ho-on,” or “Sweet Memories with Gratitude,” to express the fond memories that come to mind for the Taishöji congregation, its friends and neighbors.
Special guests from Japan, the U.S. mainland, the neighbor islands and Kona were present to help celebrate this milestone. In addition, Keirosha members (those who attained age 80 and older) were honored for their dedication and support.
In 1915, Archbishop Mokusen Hioki of Eiheiji Temple in Japan visited Hilo and saw the need for a Sötö Zen temple. Eight hundred Zen Buddhist families joined together to finance the temple. Rev. Hakudo Ezawa arrived in Hawai‘i in 1916 and oversaw the temple plans. The temple site at 275 Kino‘ole St. was purchased the following year, and on April 14, 1918, the Taishoji Temple was completed.
In the era of Hawai‘i’s sugar plantations, many parishioners could not make the trek to Hilo. Taishoji ministers rode on horseback to many distant camps and towns along the Hämäkua coast and in the Puna area to teach good living and Zen wisdom at evening services in the homes of the laborers after a hard day’s work. Oftentimes, the ministers did not return home until the next morning.
For 100 years, Hakuhozan Taishoji has been a beacon of light that has enlightened people with the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path. These principles for living have guided them in a universe that is always changing, so that they can enjoy peace, compassion and happiness in their present lives.
Over the years, the temple has also been the home base for many community groups and activities. Two of the most noteworthy ones are Taishoji Taiko and Boy Scouts of America Troop 95.