‘A new journey’

KAPAIA — Jim Jung is starting a new journey.

And it took him to the Lihue Hongwanji Mission on Sunday at the Kauai Buddhist Council Hanamatsuri, or Buddha Day, celebration.

“I spent most of my adult life neglecting spirituality,” Jung said following the hanamatsuri service, which celebrates the birth of Buddha. “Last week, I attended the service at the Kapaa Hongwanji Mission and was in awe.”

Jung, taking a quote from Will Rogers, said there are two days we celebrate — the day we are born and the day we realize why.

Rev. Kosen Ishikawa of the Koloa Jodo Mission said having the birth of Buddha coincide with Easter makes him very happy because it is a time Buddhists can say “Happy hanamatsuri” and “Happy Easter,” resonating and cheering all the more people.

“I am grateful to be able to celebrate this great day here on Kauai,” Ishikawa said. “Take a moment to thank the Buddha for his birth, and be happy while making others happy.”

Hanamatsuri, translated to mean flower festival, is filled with flowers, which were in abundance 2,600 years ago in Lumbini Garden in the northern kingdom of Kapilavastu in India.

Born into the royal family of Suddhodana and Maya, the young prince renounced his material wealth to go out into the world to seek a way of salvation for all the people who suffered from illness, poverty and spiritual dissatisfaction.

Following six years of meditation and searching, the prince became enlightened as the Buddha in December under a bodhi tree.

Members of the Kauai Buddhist Council include nine Buddhist temples around the island from Kapaa through Waimea. Buddha Day in Hawaii was officially recognized by the Legislature in 1963, with the governor proclaiming the first week of April each year as Buddha Week.

Rev. Shinko Higa of the Liliha Shingon Mission in Honolulu spoke of his pilgrimage to the 88 shrines in Shikoku, Japan. The pilgrimage, which Higa describes as an “adventure,” spanned more than 1,000 miles and took him 53 days of walking, a pledge he made at the start of the pilgrimage.

People he met along the 53-day adventure influenced his belief and interpretation of faith.

Rev. Mieko Majima, starting her residency at the Kapaa Hongwanji Mission on April 1, was appreciative of being included in the annual celebration.

“I don’t even know my way around,” Majima said. “I’m from Kyoto, Japan.”

Jung said Majima will be speaking with officials about starting a Buddhist study group here.

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