Revered Buddhists: Women’s group to honor sect founder’s wife, daughter

Honpa Hongwanji Hilo Buddhist Women’s Association is hosting a church service at 9 a.m. Sunday to celebrate the lives of Lady Eshinni and Kakushinni, wife and daughter, respectively, of Shinran Shonin, founder of the Jodo Shinshu sect of Buddhism.

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Honpa Hongwanji Hilo Buddhist Women’s Association is hosting a church service at 9 a.m. Sunday to celebrate the lives of Lady Eshinni and Kakushinni, wife and daughter, respectively, of Shinran Shonin, founder of the Jodo Shinshu sect of Buddhism.

Guest speaker Carole Tsutsumi will share, “Why We Celebrate Lady Eshinni and Kakushinni.”

Eshinni was born in Niigata Prefecture and married Shonin in 1210. Little is known about her except for the 10 letters she wrote to her daughter during the waning years of her life. These letters were discovered in the archives at the mother temple of the Jodo Shinshu sect in Kyoto, Japan, in 1921. The letters uncovered much about her life and Shinran’s as well. Eshinni died at age 89 in Niigata prefecture.

As Lady Eshinni is revered for her dedication to Shinran during his productive years, Kakushinni is known for being her father’s caregiver in his final years. She was about 30 years old when Shinran died at the age of 90. And, after Shinran’s death, Kakushinni is revered for planting the seeds that were to grow into today’s Hongwanji.

Ten years after Shinran’s passing, Kakushinni built a memorial hall for his remains and established the means for ensuring the hall and the property it was built on would belong to the Jodo Shinshu Sangha in all future generations. A monument stands in front of the Butsuden (Hondo) at the Otani Mausoleum to pay tribute to Kakushinni’s contributions.

In 1978, the World BWA (comprised of BWA organizations of Japan, mainland U.S., Hawaii, Canada and Brazil) in Sao Paulo, Brazil, passed a resolution to conduct annual services in memory of Eshinni. In 2002, the World BWA passed a resolution to similarly honor Kakushinni.

Tsutsumi is the Hawaii Island United BWA secretary and the immediate past president of Hilo Betsuin BWA. She was born and raised in Papaaloa and attended the University of Hawaii at Hilo and UH Manoa, earning a bachelor’s degree in education. She taught for four years before returning to UH-Manoa to pursue her master’s in library studies. She served as school librarian for Waiakea High School for 18 years before retiring. She has been married to her husband, Hardy, for 50 years.

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Planning the service are Barbara Fujimoto and Bessie Kubo. The Honpa Hongwanji Hilo Betsuin Buddhist Women’s Association is led by President Karen Maedo.

The public is invited to attend the service. The temple is located at 398 Kilauea Ave. For more information, call the temple office at 961-6677.

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