A Buddhist Leader in Canada Retires

He was the first Canadian-raised minister to head the largest Buddhist organization in Canada and now, after faithfully serving the Buddhist community for over five decades, Reverend Susumu Kyojo Ikuta is retiring.

Kyojo Ikuta was born Kyoto, Japan in 1926. At the age of ten, his family immigrated to Canada. He grew up in New Westminster, B.C. with his mother, Mino and four siblings. Kyojo Ikuta would continue the work of his father, Rev. Shinjo Ikuta. The senior Ikuta was an early pioneer Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Minister.

During WWII, like all Japanese-Canadians living on the Canadian west coast, the Ikuta family was removed from B.C. during the internment of people with Japanese ancestry. The Ikuta family was relocated to Raymond, Alberta and Susuma spent his teenage years working on a sugar beet farm. The uprooting almost ended Japanese Buddhism and institutional Buddhism in Canada. But, the hard times would lead to a spiritual re-awakening. According to the Canadian Encyclopedia, Alberta would eventually become the most important place for Buddhism in Canada and would further become the birthplace of the academic study of Buddhism in all of North America.

The lifting of the War Measures Act in 1949 restored freedom to those who were interned. And while some Japanese Buddhists returned to BC, many would stay in Alberta. Kyojo explored this new freedom and attended the University of Toronto where he received his Masters in Philosophy. His quest for spiritual knowledge would continue. He attended and received his kyoshi (minister training) at Ryukoku University in Japan. During this time, he also met his wife, Teruko.

With his new bride, Reverend Kyojo Ikuta returned to Canada and was first assigned to work at the Kelowna Buddhist Temple. He later moved to the Vancouver Buddhist Church were he resided until 1965. Further studies brought him back to Japan, where Rev. Ikuta obtained his PhD in Buddhism. 

Sensei Ikuta with family and friends at the JSBTC 2008 AGM in Vancouver

Rev. Ikuta returned to Canada in 1970, and served as the Head Minister of the Calgary Buddhist Temple. In 1998, he was elected to become the Bishop of the Buddhist Churches of Canada. The Bishop was the spiritual leader of temple ministers and reported to the Hongwanji, the mother temple in Kyoto, Japan. Rev. Ikuta later returned to the Calgary Buddhist Temple and was the Head Minister until his retirement in 2008.
During his time in Calgary, Rev. Ikuta also became a business entrepreneur opening many restaurants, including the successful “Edo Japan” franchise. Always caring for his small congregation, he created this venture so that the Calgary temple was able to have a full-time minister, without the burden of his income.
Full of energy, and devotion to the dharma, Rev. Ikuta lectured and promoted Buddhism across Alberta. He introduced study clubs on Buddhism and engaged in pastoral care. He wrote and published articles and books. He also taught at Calgary’s Mount Royal College. Also a fifth degree black belt, he was instrumental in bringing the Japanese sport of kendo to Calgary. But above all, his proudest accomplishment are his four children, Grant, Lester, Mari and Roland.

Rev. James Martin, once a student of Rev. Ikuta, has respectfully succeeded Sensei Ikuta at the Calgary Buddhist Temple.


Jodo Shinshu Family Retreat - May 16-18, 2009

Enjoy the natural and friendly surroundings of the Manning Park located in the heart of the Cascade Mountain range in the interior of British Columbia. Enjoy a weekend designed to promote fellowship within and between the various groups, families and ages attending. Participate in activities, lectures and workshops. This will be a time of community sharing and learning.

The event is open to anyone who is curious about or interested in the teachings of Jodo Shinshu Buddhism.

Accomodations will be community style with shared chalets and hotel rooms. When requesting your group to stay together, please submit all names on one registration form. Organizers will try to accommodate your requests and use discretion being mindful of other guests.

Guests will bring their own protein to the Saturday, March 18 dinner bbq. All other meals will be provided as planned by the organizing committee. All guests will sign up for meal preparation, cooking and cleanup duties. Please let us know if any member of your group has food allergies. Local guests are welcome to bring home-made desserts to share.

Prior to the weekend, the organizers will be looking for volunteers to design and conduct events.

Manning Park Resort is just 3 hours from Vancouver and 2 ½ hours from Kelowna. Participants are responsible for their own travel to Manning Park.

Registration is during the afternoon of Saturday, May 16 and closing services will end by 11am on Monday, May 18. Inquire about registration fees, and Early Bird rates. Early registration fees are discounted for registrations received with payment (by cheque) by January 23, 2009. Final Registration must be received with payment by March 15, 2009. All cheques payable to “Vancouver Buddhist Temple”

*Discounted rate apply for adult members of the JSBTC (Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Temples of Canada), BCA (Buddhist Churches of America), Hawaii Kyodan and members of any affiliate of the Nishi Hongwanji.

sponsored by:
The Living Dharma Centre

Hosted by:
Vancouver Buddhist Temple
220 Jackson Ave.
Vancouver, BC
V6A 3B3

To request a registration form or if you have any questions, contact the Vancouver Buddhist Temple,
(604) 253-7033
Fax: (604) 253-7076

Email: retreat.vbt@gmail.com

The Changing Role of Women In Jodo Shinshu Buddhism

"Women who remain in lay life should realize and never entertain the slightest doubt that those who, without any calculation, deeply rely on Amida Buddha single-mindedly and unwaveringly, entrusting themselves to the Buddha for their emancipation in the after life, will all be saved." -Letters of Rennyo, 5-3

Rennyo Shonin wrote this letter after the death of both wife, Eshinni (above) and daughter, Kakushinni.

Invitation to a Public Lecture 

The Changing Role of Women In Jodo Shinshu Buddhism
by Rev. Patricia Kanaya Usuki
Author "Currents of Change:  American Buddhist Women Speak Out on Jodo Shinshu" and of the San Fernando Valley Hongwanji Buddhist Temple

Panel Discussion
Rev. Patti Nakai, Buddhist Temple of Chicago & Buddhist  Educational Centre  
Prof. Jeff Wilson, East Asian Studies, University of Waterloo, Author: "Buddhist Guide to New York"

Saturday October 18, 1:00pm  

Toronto Buddhist Church
1011 Sheppard Ave. West
Toronto, ON
         (one block East of Downsview Subway  Station) 

For more information, call 416-534-4302

Now on DVD

Sensei Bob Oshita of the Buddhist Church of Sacramento is one of the many speakers that has been recorded by the Living Dharma Centre. HIs lecture is one of many available to watch and listen to. In this excerpt, Sensei Oshita breaks down Buddhism into one word, "impermanence".

Sensei Oshita graduated from U.C. Berkley, attended the Institute for Buddhist Studies, and has studied in Japan and with many teachers from diverse Buddhist traditions. Contact your nearest Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Temple of your LDC representitive for more information to receive or watch this DVD.

Learning Jodo Shinshu Online

This letter recently appeared in the April 2008 edition of the Buddhist Temple of Southern Alberta newsletter (Hikari):

An exciting learning opportunity is happening! In response to a growing interest in Jodo Shinshu, the Jodo Shinshu Centre has established a correspondence course for those new to Jodo Shinshu and those who are already members and wish to deepen their understanding and appreciation.

 In preparation for a full launch of the Correspondence course later this year, a ten week pilot program was launched in January 2008 with participants from United States, Canada, Australia, Singapore and Japan. These included Lorita Ichikawa and Renae Barlow of BTSA (Buddhist Temple of Southern Alberta).

 Within this ten week period, participants engaged in activities anticipated to be part of the full version of study for the fall of 2008.

The pilot program topics included: 1)Buddha-Dharma - Sakyamuni Buddha and His Teaching, 2) An introduction to Jodo Shinshu Buddhism, 3) ShinShu II, and 4) History of ShinShu.

Each topic came with a 30- 40 page reference document with a list of other resources that could also be sought. An essay was required at the end of each section and there were usually a number of questions to choose from. Once the essay was submitted one or two of the instructors would respond within a couple of days with comments and suggestions.
Pilot project participants were then asked to provide comments, both of a positive and negative, that would improve the quality of the teachings. It was overall a very positive learning experience.

The online version of this course included establishing an online account on Moodle (educational web-based software) from which participants could review the outline of the course, download text material, writing and submit essays, chat with other students, receive feedback from instructors and provide feedback on the course. The feedback from participants will be considered by the organizing committee sometime in early April.

The full version correspondence course will be offered this September and is expected to span two years of part-time correspondence study. More details as to content, workload, and tuitions costs will be forthcoming in the next few months.

As a participant, I found the 10 week course informative and thought provoking. I felt the experience served to deepen my appreciation and understanding of Jodo Shinshu and ignited a desire to continue the studies. I am eagerly waiting to enrol in the fall courses. I hope that others feel compelled to take the course or at least participate in the study group that may be created from the ongoing teachings.
— In Gassho Renae Barlow, Lethbridge, Alberta


Temple Tour: Calgary

Following the March 30 service at the Calgary Buddhist Temple, Dr. Leslie Kawamura of the Living Dharma Centre held a meeting regarding the LDC and Dharma school programs.  He has extended an invitation to all our members (not just parents) willing to help ensure the Dharma school remains interesting and relevant for all of the children and young adults in the Sangha. If you have interest (talent is entirely optional) in helping please step forward.

The LDC intends to gather information that will be utilized to develop and strengthen our Dharma school programs across Canada.

courtesy Calgary Buddhist Temple

Temple Tour: Winnipeg

As one of the projects of the Living Dharma Centre, I have proposed to visit all temples in the Buddhist Churches of Canada and survey Dharma School and Youth programs. I began my visitations with the Manitoba Buddhist Temple in Winnipeg on February 17, 2008.

The resident Minister (Sensei) is Fred Ulrich and he has done a wonderful job of taking the temple into the society. As a consequence, many people who are interested in the Buddha-dharma (teachings of the Enlightened Siddhartha) have visited the temple and some have become new members to the temple. Others have volunteered to help at “soup kitchens” and other inter-religious groups. Those members who have been with the temple for many years, and some who have been there from the very beginning, contribute to the advancement and development of the temple by contributing financial assistance as well as being attentive to the various needs of the temple.

On this visit, I was invited to attend the Sunday service attended by many people both old and new. I met a lady whose visit to the temple was for the first time, and I was pleased to see that she was accepted into the sangha and was taking part in the events of the day just in the manner that those who were there for a longer period.

The service itself was very impressive in that it was not centered around the Sensei only, but members (both children and adults) led the sangha in various aspects – leading in the Trisarana, leading in the incense offering, reading of the Juseige in English prior to the chanting of it led by Sensei Ulrich. I was invited to give a Dharma talk to the children, to the Japanese speaking adults, and then to the English speaking adults.

Oshoko after service

A gift from a Dharma Class Student

Visitation to the Dharma school class was done during the adult meditation session. During my visit, many good ideas of how the LDC could gain from and contribute to the Manitoba Buddhist Temple Dharma Classes were exchanged These ideas will be compiled and circulated among the temples so that exchange of ideas can take place.

During the “pot luck” lunch, an opportunity was provided to share the intent, structure, and wish of the LDC for each person’s participation in its work.

Lunch is served

Sensei Ulrich meets a visitor

A sample brochure of the LDC was distributed to those in attendance. This brochure is a “work in progress” in that it contains some information about the structure and working of the LDC, but hopefully it will prompt comments from the members of the BCC at large so that when the brochure reaches its more mature state, it will contain the information that responds to the members’ wishes.

Origami practise

The brochure is in such an infantile stage that some of the Winnipeg members had to practice “origami” (the art of paper folding) to get into shape for handing out.

Watch for more from my next visits:
February 23 - West Coast Temples
March 16 - Southern Alberta Temple
Calgary, Interior BC and East Coast temples are still pending.

Dr. Leslie Kawamura
February 17, 2008

West Coast Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Temples 2008 Lecture Series

Learn more about Buddhism as the West Coast Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Temples begin their 2008 Lecture Series.
Jodo Shinshu teachers from all over North American have been invited to speak at Vancouver area temples throughout the year.
We hope you can attend this FREE lecture series to get a better understanding of Buddhism.

Buddhism for Dummies

Saturday, January 12, 2008 from 9:30am-11:30am
Vancouver Buddhist Temple, 220 Jackson Ave. Vancouver, BC
Speaker: Rev. Bob Oshita

Rev. Bob Oshita of the Buddhist Church of Sacramento has administered Dharma services to the 1,000 member community there for 13 years. He was ordained in 1973 in the Jodo-Sinshu tradition and has taught for 22 years.

Rev. Oshita graduated from U.C. Berkley, attended the Institute for Buddhist Studies, and has studied in Japan and with many teachers from diverse Buddhist traditions. He is highly treasured by his sangha for his energetic style and his compassion.

The Importance of “Self" in Amida Buddha
Friday, April 4, 2008 at 7:00pm
University of British Columbia, Thea Koerner House (Graudate Student Centre) located next to Asian Studies Centre.
(Parking is available at either the Chan Centre or the Asian Studies Centre, 6371 Crescent Road on the corner of West Mall and Crescent Road)
Speaker Dr. Leslie Kawamura

Reverend Dr. Leslie Kawamura is currently a full professor of Buddhism in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Calgary. He is also the Director of the Buddhist Churches of Canada - Living Dharma Centre.

Since becoming a member of the Department of Religious Studies in 1976, Leslie Kawamura has devoted ceaseless efforts to promoting the study of Asian cultures and to fostering an interest in Asia within the University and Calgary communities. He has been instrumental in the established of connections between the University and individuals and institutions in Asia.

Buddhism for Beginners (1)
Saturday, April 5, 2008 at 2:00pm
Steveston Buddhist Temple, 4360 Garry St, Richmond, BC
Speaker: Reverend Ronald Kobata, Buddhist Churches of America

Sensei Kobata graduated with a bachelor's degree from Berkeley, and has his master's from the Institute of Buddhist Studies. He has been assigned to various Buddhist temples in Washington and Hawaii.
Kobata was most recently assigned to Makawao Hongwanji temple in Maui, Hawaii and appointed in Feb. 2005 as executive assistant to Bishop Koshin Ogui.

Finding One Self in the Vows of Amida Buddha
Saturday, April 12, 2008 from 9:30-11:30am
Vancouver Buddhist Temple, 220 Jackson Ave. Vancouver, BC
Speaker: Reverend Gregory Gibbs, Oregon Buddhist Temple (Portland)

Gregory G. Gibbs was a resident minister at Los Angeles Hompa Hongwanji Buddhist Temple from 1994-2001. He served at the Idaho-Oregon Buddhist Temple from 2003-2005.

He is a graduate of the Institute of Buddhist Studies (M.A. in Buddhist Studies and Master of Jodo Shinshu Studies) and an active member of the North American Branch of the International Association of Shin Buddhist Studies. His publications include, "Understanding Shinran and the Burden of the Traditional Dogmatics" (The Eastern Buddhist, Fall, 1997), and "Shinjin as a Transformation in Personal Identity" (The Pure Land, 1998).

Buddhism for Beginners (2)
Saturday, July 5, 2008 at 7:30-9:30pm
Steveston Buddhist Temple, Richmond, BC
Speaker: Reverend Masao Kodani, Senshin Buddhist Temple, Los Angeles, CA

After graduating from Centennial High School, Reverend Kodani attended the University of California at Santa Barbara where he earned his degree in East Asian Studies. While at UC Santa Barbara, he became close with Reverend Art Takemoto of Nishi Hongwanji Buddhist Temple. Through Rev. Takemoto’s influence, Kodani traveled to Japan to study Buddhism at Ryukoku University.

After his studies were completed, he returned to the United States and was assigned to the Senshin Buddhist Temple in South Central Los Angeles.

Gathering of Joy
Friday, July 11, 2008 at 7:00-9:00pm
Vancouver Buddhist Temple, 220 Jackson Ave. Vancouver, BC
Speaker: Reverend Ronald Kobata, Buddhist Churches of America

Sensei Kobata graduated with a bachelor's degree from Berkeley, and has his master's from the Institute of Buddhist Studies. He has been assigned to various Buddhist temples in Washington and Hawaii.
Kobata was most recently assigned to Makawao Hongwanji temple in Maui, Hawaii and appointed in Feb. 2005 as executive assistant to Bishop Koshin Ogui.

Buddhism for Beginners (3)
Saturday, October 25, 2008 at 2:00-4:00pm
Steveston Buddhist Temple, 4360 Garry St, Richmond, BC
Speaker: Reverend Thomas Okano, Bishop Hawaii Honpa Hongwanji Mission, Honolulu, Hawaii

Thomas Okano is the 15th Bishop of the Hawaii Honpa Hongwanji. The Hawaii Honpa is the largest organization of Buddhist temples in the State of Hawaii.

Previously, he was the Director of the Buddhist Study Centre at the University of Hawaii. He is recognized as a talented scholar and a wise, compassionate administrator.

Presented by the West Coast Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Temples:

Fraser Valley Buddhist Temple
Abbotsford, BC

Steveston Buddhist Temple
4360 Garry St. Richmond, BC

Vancouver Buddhist Temple
220 Jackson Ave. Vancouver, BC