Brief History of the Buddhist Women's Association AND the Placer Buddhist Women's Association
Founding of Buddhist Women’s Association
In the early 1900’s in Japan, Takeko Kujo (1880-1928) founded the Buddhist Women’s Association (BWA). She was the daughter of Kosho Ohtani, 21st Abbot of the Nishi Hongwanji-ha. The BWA is a lay organization of the Nishi Hongwanji-ha branch of Jodo Shinshu, headquartered in Kyoto, Japan. Many Jodo Shinshu temples in Japan, mainland United States, Hawaii, South America, and Canada have BWA chapters. The honorary head of the World Buddhist Women’s Association is the Lady Noriko Ohtani, spouse of the 24th Monshu of the Nishi Hongwanji-ha, Koshin Ohtani.
Buddhist Women’s Association [PBWA]
The Placer Buddhist Women’s Association is also known as the “Fujinkai.” In Japanese, this word translates to Buddhist Women’s (Fujin), Association (kai). PBWA was formed in April 1947 with 20 members. The members then visited every home to urge each woman to join. Two years later in May 1949, the first inauguration service was held, and 1949 is considered our official start date. In 1949, PBWA had 120 members.
Today, more than six decades later, PBWA continues to thrive with more than 100 current members. The annually-elected cabinet and members meet monthly to discuss and plan a wide variety of community and educational activities to support the temple and temple community.
PBWA is an active member of the regional Northern California Buddhist Women’s Association (NCBWA) comprised of seven churches and affiliated organizations. It is also a member of the national Federation of Buddhist Women’s Association (FBWA) comprised of eight districts throughout the United States.
Placer Buddhist Women's Association's Special Services
Placer Buddhist Women's Association [PBWA] observes two special services annually.
June: Memorial service for Lady Yoshiko Ohtani (1918-2000), the spouse of 23rd Abbot Kosho Ohtani. She was instrumental in instituting worldwide BWA conferences after World War II.
November: Memorial service for Eshinni-sama, spouse of Jodo Shinshu founder Shinran Shonin, and Kakushinni-sama, their daughter.
The NCBWA conference is held every two years, as is the FBWA conference. World BWA conferences are held generally every four years. The next world conferences are scheduled in 2015 in Canada and in 2019 in the San Francisco Bay Area.
PBWA participates in ongoing activities as well as undertakes new initiatives to address the temple’s and members’ needs and interests. Activities include, but are not limited to:
* PBWA and PBC activities such as food demonstration workshops to preserve our rich cultural and culinary traditions, compiling and publishing cookbooks, special projects to contribute to the PBC Building Fund, and “omigaki”—cleaning brass altar pieces in the temple sanctuary;
* Special services such as memorial services honoring Eshinni and Kakushinni, the wife and daughter of Shinran Shonin, the founder of Jodo Shinshu Buddhism;
* Temple and PBWA fundraisers such as the Mini-Bazaar in the spring. Food Bazaar in September, and Mochitsuki (literally “making mochi”) in December; and
* Community outreach activities such as the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, the American River Conservancy’s Wakamatsu Colony Festival, and partnerships with local high schools to allow students volunteerism credits if they elect to work at the annual Food Bazaar.
—Visiting assisted living facilities and nursing homes in the community as well as private homes to provide obento lunches (in the spring) and sundries (in the fall) to lift the spirits of resident PBC members.
-Participating in a “toban”—an important activity that allows us to perform our dana (selfless giving). Members participate on a monthly rotational basis to support temple and PBWA activities such as preparing food for the various temple activities. PBWA’s toban rotation is divided geographically into four groups based on place of residence: (1) Aubum-Newcastle; (2) Penryn-Lincoln; (3) Loomis; and (4) Roseville, Rocklin, and out of Placer County.
- Attending conferences and workshops to develop wisdom and fellowship with the local, regional, national, and international Buddhist communities.