This comes a little late, but better late than never…Sunday, November 2, 2008 marked the end of a year-long celebration of Jikoen Hongwanji’s 70th anniversary. Various events were put together throughout the year to commemorate the special occasion, which culminated with a special luncheon to honor their past and look to the future.
Established by Okinawan immigrants to Hawaii, Jikoen provided a place for Okinawan immigrants to practice Buddhism in the midst of discrimination by the naichi or mainland Japanese. The community survived the interment of its ministers during WWII and the great tide of anti-Japanese sentiments after the Pearl Habor attacks. When faced with losing their lease in the late 1980s, the temple and its community joined together to raise over a million dollars in a short span to buy the land fee simple. Though the membership is now aging, they stand proud of their achievements and continue to work to keep Jikoen alive to continue to be a gathering place for their children and grandchildren.
Though we are neither Buddhists nor members of Jikoen Hongwanji, we celebrate their achievements and congratulate them on their 70th anniversary. Jikoen has been a solid pillar and uniting force for the Oahu Okinawan community since its establishment in the 1930s. Long before there was ever talk of an Okinawa Center or even before the establishment of the the Okinawa Rengo Kai, Jikoen housed countless Okinawan community gatherings and programs. Many of Jikoen’s most faithful members have been key organizers and movers within the local Okinawan community. Among local Okinawan performing artists, it is difficult to find a veteran who does not have fond memories of the temple’s social hall. Even to this day, Jikoen remains committed to opening their doors to supporters and practicioners of Okinawan culture and to those with a voice on behalf of Okinawa or the Okinawan community.
With our world facing even greater challenges and changes, our communities, more than ever before, need to hold fast and stay strong. Let Jikoen’s legacy of 70 years be a shining example and a guiding light to us all.