Along with holding virtual religious services via Zoom — just as many other Nikkei-serving temples, shrines and churches have done during the coronavirus era — Koloa Jodo Mission Buddhist Temple has been busy sharing or producing content to introduce members to the teachings of its Jödo Shü sect. Online documents help curious Buddhists better understand the sacred form of sutras; the temple’s website features information on these chanted scriptures. They express the teachings of Jödo or “Pure Land” sect of Buddhism, which has been popular historically in the Hawaiian islands.

Koloa Jodo Mission. (Photo from the Jodo Mission Facebook page)
Bishop Kosen Ishikawa. (Photo from Ishikawa’s Facebook page)

Bishop Kosen Ishikawa shared three materials that illuminate these calming but often — for many Americanized temple-goers who are not proficient in Nihongo — mysterious-sounding chants by priests during Sunday service and other temple ceremonies. He shared for free the Otsutome Book and the Amida Sutra, both in PDF format, and a sutra-chanting video he himself made using parts of the Amida Sutra, subtitled with excerpts from the Jōdo Shü Research Institute’s English translation of the Three Pure Land sutras (of which the Amida Sutra is often considered the core text).

The Otsutome Book was created to help new generations of Jödo Shü members understand the meaning of the sect’s daily services. Whether their native language was English or Japanese, congregants enjoyed the original publication by the Hawaii Council of Jodo Missions from 1978 onward. Then in 2011, the HCJM revised the book in commemoration of the 800th grand memorial of the Jödo Shü founder, Hōnen Shōnin, who established this “Pure Land” sect in 1175 in Japan.

The 147-page version of the Otsutome Book from 2011 was back then put together by editor-in-chief Rev. Shinri Hara who had worked with an organizing committee of JCHM ministers. Including at-the-time new English translations of sutras by Rev. Dwight Ryōkan Nakamura, the book’s “format for the sutra section consists of Japanese reading, Chinese characters, English pronunciation, and English translation line by line, in the hopes that all those who read it will come to have a greater appreciation and deeper understanding for Hōnen Shōnin’s teachings as well as Buddhism in general,” explained the book’s Foreword.

The book breaks down and explains the general order of Jödo Shü services, followed by a general order of sutra chants (with introductions, sutra lyrics in those multiple languages as well as selected scriptures) and finally, gathas (spiritual songs) with lyrics and musical notations.

For the 21-page Amida Sutra also posted to that site, Bishop Ishikawa inputted all the kanji characters and added their accompanying römaji pronunciation so that temple members and interested Buddhists could read their sounds aloud (an act of transcription/translation which he admitted took time but was “definitely worth doing it if you [congregants and Buddhists] could use it”).

The 23-minute, 14-second, online video on the same Koloa Jodo Mission site, entitled “Bussetsu Amida Kyo” or “The Amida Sutra As Expounded By the Buddha,” is chanted in Nihongo, with two forms of Japanese (kanji as well as romaji) subtitles scrolling across the screen, as well as English subtitles that also effectively narrate what is going on in the story. This video and other posted materials might come as a relief to U.S.-raised Nikkei and other Buddhist congregants who grew up in the west and might have found themselves sitting in local Buddhist temple pews wondering what their ministers were saying during these absorbing but difficult-to-grasp chants.

According to the Koloa Jodo Mission homepage, the temple was founded in February 1910 by Rev. Jitsujo Muroyama and his Japanese-immigrant supporters, after the teachings of Hōnen Shōnin reached Hawai‘i in 1894. Currently, there are 13 Jödo Shü temples in the islands including two on Kaua‘i; two on Maui; six on Hawai‘i island; and two on O‘ahu.

For further information on Jödo Shü, see jodo.org/message/welcome.html. For more on the Amida Sutra, see web.mit.edu/stclair/www/horai/intro-amida-sutra.htm.


The Curriculum Research & Development Group of the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa has rolled out its popular summer course offerings, proven a past hit among families who want their children and teens to stay active intellectually or physically when out of regular school.

One of the many online courses offered for young people this summer by the UHM Curriculum Research and Development Group. (Photo from the CRDG website)

Among the courses are those offered through three online programs all running from June 7-July 9, Session A from 8-10 a.m.; Session B from 10:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m.; and Session C from 1-2:30 p.m. These tend to include STEM activities, the arts and some physical play, to build the imagination, skills and dexterity of those still growing.

Courses include, for Session A (crdg.hawaii.edu/summerprograms/product-category/online/session-a):

• STEM: Bubble, Launch & Melt (grades 1-2)

• Let’s Do Art and Yoga (grades 1-3)

• Creative Programming with Scratch (grades 1-3)

• Minecraft: A Virtual Learning Adventure (grades 3-5)

• Drama: Just Act—Beginning Art in Nature (grades 4-7)

• Grow a FEAST (grades 6-9)

• Stop-Motion Animation (grades 6-12)

• STEM: Lego Machines (grades 7-12)

For Session B (crdg.hawaii.edu/summerprograms/product-category/online/session-b):

• Robotics Lego WeDo (grades 1-2)

• Fitness, Friends n’ Fun (grades 1-3)

• Story Art, Smart Art, Let’s Get ARTed? (grades 1-3)

• FEAST On This (grades 3-5)

• Robotics: Lego EV3 (grades 3-5)

• Minecraft: A Virtual Learning Adventure (grades 3-5)

• STEM: Science Olympics (grades 4-6)

• Little Journalists (grades 7-12)

For Session C (crdg.hawaii.edu/summerprograms/product-category/online/session-c/):

• Adventure Seekers Online (grades 1-6) [sign up for 1 week or all 5]

Do not wait too long to register, because some CRDG summer courses, such as both sections of the on-campus “Driver’s Education Classroom” Special Program have already filled as of April (though you can be added to the waitlist; email the office crdgsum@hawaii.edu for more information).

For registration of courses in the above online sessions, see crdg.hawaii.edu/summerprograms/online-registration.


Karleen Chinen, former longtime editor of The Hawai‘i Herald, is currently writing an Okinawan community book. Tentatively titled “Born Again Uchinanchu,” the volume, which Chinen hopes to complete this year, will discuss the achievements of nisei and sansei Okinawans in Hawai‘i from 1980 to 2020, a four-decade stretch covering the late twentieth century through early millennium. During this time, Hawai‘i saw a renaissance in Okinawan culture paralleling the rise of Okinawans socially, politically and economically in the islands.

In the Okinawan community, this publication would widely be regarded as a long-awaited follow-up to, or continuation of, the UH Center for Oral History’s groundbreaking 1980 book “Uchinanchu: A History of Okinawans in Hawaii” which covers local Okinawan history from the time of immigration (and earlier) through its year of publication.

BAU will initially be printed in 5,000 hardcover copies; among its 300-odd pages, 80% will be text but with 20% planned as visuals including color photos. Its board welcomes the community to send them photos related to the following topics, for possible inclusion in this publication:

• October 1980 trip to Okinawa by 37 young Uchinanchu leaders from Hawaiʻi

• Past HUOA Okinawan Festivals

• Hawaii Okinawa Center, Hawaii Okinawa Plaza and Maui Okinawa Cultural Center

• 80th, 90th, 100th and 120th anniversaries of Okinawan Immigration to Hawaii

• Okinawan music and dance performances

• Worldwide Uchinanchu Business Association

• Okinawa “Taikai” events

Other Okinawan community activities, such as:

• UHM Center for Okinawan Studies

• Okinawa Genealogical Society of Hawaii

• Hui O Laulima Women’s Club

• Young Okinawans of Hawaii Club and Shinka Hawaii

• Other Okinawan clubs and cultural organizations

• Okinawa-Hawaii Student Exchange

• Children’s Day Camp

• “Uchinanchu at heart”

Please include captions that detail which event each photo portrays, the approximate photo date, and, if possible, who is included in the photos (left to right, etc.). Photo contributors will be acknowledged in the book and compensated $25 for each photo published, or contributors will receive a complimentary copy of the book. All photos will be returned to the contributors after they are digitized.

Send photos to be considered for publication to John Tasato via the below snail mail or email addresses:

Mail: 95-1018 Hookaau St., Mililani, HI 96789

Email: BAUphoto21@gmail.com

But please limit your photo submissions to the five (5) most interesting ones!

Questions, call John Tasato at (808) 393-3343, or email him at the above address.

Mahalo and Chibariyo!


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