Soto Zen Buddhism Hawaii Office, has its administrative office within Soto Mission of Hawaii, Betsuin Shoboji, which is located next to the Consulate General of Japan, in a central area of Honolulu. Amidst many changes, a total of nine Soto Zen School temples have served its members over the course of a century.
The nine temples are as follows: Shoboji and three other temples on Oahu (Taiheiji in Aiea; Taiyoji in Waipahu; Ryusenji in Wahiawa); Mantokuji on Maui; Guzeiji on Molokai; Zenshuji on Kauai; Taishoji in Hilo and Daifukuji in Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii.
To date, there have been six Sokans, who also have served as the head priest at Soto Shu Hawaii Betsuin: Rev. Hosen Isobe (1918-1922), Rev. Zenkyo Komagata (1938 - 1970), Rev. Zenshu Komagata (1972 -1975), Rev. Koryu Oyama (1975 -1981), Rev. Gyokuei Matsuura (1981 -1997).
Since 1997, the sixth and also the current director, Rev. Jiho Machida has been serving in the Soto Zen Buddhism Hawaii Office for Propagation. The role of this office has expanded since the time of the current director's appointment. In recent years, two major events: “750th Memorial Service in Hawaii for Dogen-Zenji” and “The Hawaii Soto-Shu Centennial Celebration” were planned and organized by the Sokan's Office. Both events achieved rousing success. Also in recent years, each individual temple successfully celebrated its own respective anniversary. It is still fresh in our memory that Soto Zen School has taken a strong step toward the future.
Currently, the average age of Hawaii's core members is 75-80 years old. There is a sense of urgency in coming up with plans and strategies to add active members of all ages and ethnicities. It is unknown whether or not the next generation will embrace Buddhism (Soto Zen School) since the transition from “the religion of the household” to “the religion of individual” has not fully taken place among Hawaii's Buddhist population. It is imperative that our propagation efforts must be focused on making Buddhism more relevant and familiar to our youth. To achieve this end, Hawaii-born Buddhist priests, who speak the same language and understand the local customs, traditions and lifestyle, are urgently needed. Soto Zen Buddhism Hawaii Office has the duty of producing such priests in order to meet the needs of Hawaii's multi-ethnic population.
Dogen Zenji left Japan and studied in China to further his understanding of Buddhism. Upon his return to Japan, he opened a monastery and trained the next generation of Zen teachers without having to send them to China. The same holds true in Hawaii. Unless we produce our own priests who understand the local tradition and lifestyle, we will not be able to establish a Soto Zen School rooted in Hawaii. Soto Zen Buddhism Hawaii Office for Propagation, maintaining close communication with each priest and his/her temple, will continue to make efforts to be the type of institution that brings its members peace.
(Translation by Michael Nakade)
Click on the national flags on the map, or on those at the left, to zoom to each country and see a list of its temples.