Calgary Embraced by the Oneness of Light


Embraced by the Oneness of Life was the recurring theme experienced by almost 1,800 Buddhists from Japan, Brazil, the U.S., Canada and Hawaii who attended the World Buddhist Women’s Convention in Calgary, Alberta, May 30 & 31, 2015.  From the majestic and moving opening ceremony to the equally significant closing, there was music, dancing, visiting, chanting, and inspiring dharma messages bringing laughter and tears, stimulating the mind and warming the heart.

We were honored to have the attendance and participation of his Eminence Monshu Ohtani Kojun (Sennyo Monshu). “Gomonshu-sama” as he is called by Jodo Shinshu followers is the 25th generation Sennyo Monshu or Hongwanji head priest.

The keynote speakers, Reverend Nana Yanase from Japan and Reverend Patricia Kanaya Usuki, born in Canada and living in the USA, shared the dharma through music, life stories and a broad experience and knowledge of the teachings.  A panel, comprised of women from each of the Districts, touchingly described their personal pathways in and towards embracing the dharma.
Workshops themed on the Eight-Fold Path provided food for the body, mind and spirit with activities to match that included dancing, singing, writing, and exercising.  There were stimulating opportunities to learn more about music, history, art and self-reflection …all in the context of Buddhism and the Oneness of Life.

Over meals and during breaks, participants were able to meet and socialize, culminating in the dinner banquet where each table was arranged with a mix of delegates from each country.  The banquet portion of the evening included a singing performance from Reverend Nana Yanase and entertainment from the District countries.  A highlight was the joining of performers and delegates, including the Gomonshu-sama and other dignitaries in the favorite odori Tanko Busshi.  To close the evening entertainment, dancers from across Canada performed a lively zumba to the tune of The Best Day of Our Lives.
The Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Temples of Canada Women’s Federation, together with the temples across Canada have worked together to provide a successful and memorable experience.  Despite being a small Sangha with limited resources and spread across a large country geographically, we are grateful that all those who came from around the world to Calgary enjoyed this convention and fulfilled our hope for a memorable experience where we were truly “Embraced by the Oneness of Life”.

As with previous years, a post convention report will be published and will contain a text copy of all the speeches as well as many photos.  A DVD of the convention and a full version of the keynote speakers is planned and will hopefully be available soon.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, the Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Temples of Canada handed the World Buddhist Women’s Convention flag to the Buddhist Churches of America Buddhist Women’s Association who will host the next World Buddhist Women’s Convention, August 30 to September 1, 2019 in San Francisco, California.  See you there!

Article courtesy of the Hamilton Buddhist Temple
Photos courtesy of the Manitoba Buddhist Temple

Calgary Digs in


The Calgary Buddhist Temple is getting a makeover.

Plans are underway to rebuild the 100 year old building. For the past 12 years, a small portion of annual funds has been held for Temple renovations. Through fiscal responsibility, the Board expects to fund almost 50% of the $1.95 million required for renovations and related costs.

These funds have been achieved through individual donations, fundraising events and provincial government grants. Now, $1 million – the remainder of the required funds – is required in order to complete renovations by early 2015.


Ikuta Sensei Enters the Pureland


Sensei Susumu Kyojo Ikuta passed away peacefully on April 24, 2014.

Susumu or "Sus" was born on November 23, 1926 in Kyoto, Japan as the eldest son to Rev. Shinjo and Mrs. Mino Ikuta. Susumu moved to Canada with his family in 1937 and during WWII the family was relocated to Raymond, Alberta where Sus graduated from the Raymond High School in 1948.

In 1953, Sus graduated from University of Toronto with MA in philosophy. In 1954, he returned to Japan to begin his life passion of Buddhist Studies. It is also during this time that he met Teruko Yamasaki. The couple married on March 23, 1957 and for 60 years they shared the same passions and were devoted to each other, their family, the Dharma and the Sangha.

Following his graduation in 1958 with a M.A. in Buddhist Studies from Ryukoku University, Sus and Terrie returned to Canada where he began over 50 years of services as a Jodo Shinshu Buddhist minister for the Buddhist Churches of Canada.

From 1998 to 2002, he served as Bishop of the Buddhist Churches of Canada. In 1972, the family moved to Calgary where Sus began his longest posting as a resident minister. The sangha was still very much in the fledgling stage without a permanent home. In 1981, the founding members and Sus fulfilled their dream by raising funds to purchase the Croatian Catholic Church on 6 Street N. E. to establish the Calgary Buddhist Temple.

The Edo Japan franchise was started to help sustain the Temple. Sus worked full-time, both as the president of Edo Japan International and as the resident minister for the Temple. Over the years, the Temple has established itself within the rich multi-faith mosaic of the city of Calgary. Most recently Sus was excited about the restoration plans for the Temple and encouraged everyone to support their efforts. Sus led a wonderful life of 87 years passing away quietly surrounded by his family.

He leaves behind wife, Teruko, daughter Mari Cameron (Huston), sons Lester Ikuta (Mickey), Roland Ikuta (Brenda), son Grant Ikuta (Noriko), and grandchildren, Eric, Sean, Kyle, Nathan, Arthur, Maya, Charlotte, Dylan, Clayton, Courtney and Erin. Sus is also survived by siblings, brother Makoto Ikuta, sister Kyoko Oda (Rev. Harold Oda), sister Noriko Sugimoto, brother Kuni Ikuta (June) and numerous nephews, nieces and their families.

The journey of life was truly wonderful for Sus, and he often mentioned in his latter days how grateful he was to all for their friendship and support. The family would also like to express deep appreciation for the overwhelming support they have received during this time of sadness.

In Gassho, Namo Amida Butsu.

A private family cremation service was held. A Public Memorial Service was be held at the Buddhist Temple of Southern Alberta in Lethbridge, on Friday, May 2, 2014.


Alberta Buddhist Conference 2010

Southern Alberta Buddhist Choir performs

Engaged Buddhism was the theme of the 2010 Alberta Buddhist Conference. A theme that continued into the weekend, as Sensei James Martin and the Calgary Buddhist Temple hosted the 32nd edition of this annual event.

The volunteer committee coordinated the conference to coincide with the Calgary Buddhist Film Series and the Alberta District's 750th Shinran Shonin Memorial Commemoration on October 29-31, 2010.

The gathering attracted over one-thousand people, including thirty delegates from Lethbridge. Ten people participated in the Sarana Affirmation Ceremony led by Socho Orai Fujikawa of the Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Temples of Canada.

Guests included Dr. Leslie Kawamura of the University of Calgary and Living Dharma Centre, and Sensei Susumu Ikuta (ret.).

The program opened with a discussion on theme of "Engaged Buddhism" led by Sensei Fredrich Ulrich of the Manitoba Buddhist Temple. Other speakers included Sensei Yasuo Izumi of the Buddhist Temple of Southern Alberta, Rod Burylo, of the Calgary Buddhist Temple, and Tracey Pickup of Thich Nhat Hanh's 'Order of Inter-being'. Mr. Burylo, an internationally known speaker, delivered an interactive session on Ethical Investing, while Ms. Pickup continued on the conference topic of Engaged Buddhism.

Sensei Fredrich Ulrich of Winnipeg opened the conference.

Guest speaker Rod Burylo of Calgary

The Southern Alberta Buddhist Choir performed at the Saturday evening banquet and again for the Sunday service. One of their songs was "May Peace Prevail" with words written by Mrs. Carrie Kawamoto of Mililani Hongwanji. The composition was chosen as the winning entry in the Shinran Shonin's 750th Memorial Gatha Lyrics Contest. The words reflect an affirmation of peace in everyday life, and were set to music by Professor Takeo Kudo of the University of Hawaii Music Department. The inspirational lyrics were included in a commemorative booklet, edited by Susan Huntley and was given to all attendees as a keepsake of the occasion.

Attending Ministers from across Canada

Thanks to the organizing committee and all the volunteers

Organizing Chairperson, Ken Madden summarized, "The success is measured in the weekend's support of our vision: 'To set in motion a way of living, learning and teaching a life of joy and gratitude through Jodo Shinshu Buddhism.' In reflection of this Vision, I believe that we 'cast seeds of dharma' to even more people than ever before!"

The Calgary Buddhist Temple would like to thank the Calgary Public Library for their generous support of the Buddhist Film Series. They also realize that this event is not possible without the help of all the volunteers who gave their time and skills.

Photos courtesy of L. Tsukishima

Glenbow Museum Celebration

One of the newest pieces in the Glenbow Museum in Calgary comes from the Raymond Buddhist Church. An ornate shrine has been recast in the role of a museum piece.

The shrine was built in Kyoto, Japan in the early 1930's. It is made of wood, gilt, and gold leaf. Its painted with a lacquer metal paint. The brilliant gold of the shrine and its elaborate decorations reflect Amida Buddha’s radiant compassion and wisdom. The scrolls on either side of the shrine represent Shinran Shonin (1173-1262 A.D.), who founded the school, and the Eighth Abbot, Rennyo Shonin (1411-1499 A.D.), who developed the sect in its present form. The Double Wisteria, representing humility and reverence to Amida Buddha, is the Jodo Shinshu crest.

Raymond Buddhist Church shrine, 1976, Glenbow Archives NA-5720-26

The Raymond Buddhist Church was the first Buddhist temple in southern Alberta. It operated from 1929 until May 21, 2006.

The building originally housed a school and a Mormon church before it was sold to the Buddhist community in 1929 for $5,000.00. The first focus of devotion for the congregation was a locally made shrine and a scroll from Japan. This magnificent shrine was received as a gift in 1946 from the Japanese community in Royston, B.C. The Amida Buddha statue was sent from New Westminster, B.C. The Raymond Buddhist Church was the social, spiritual and cultural centre of the Japanese community in this rural farming area. The Church ran a Japanese food store, and sponsored fun community gatherings, theatre performances, sports, parades, educational activities and spiritual events. The building was designated a Provincial Historic Site in 1984.

A small Japanese community worked in farming and coal-mining in Alberta prior to 1942. During the Second World War, Japanese-Canadians living in British Columbia were uprooted by the Canadian government and forced into internment camps, losing their homes and businesses. Due to a labour shortage, many Japanese-Canadians were sent to Alberta to work on sugar-beet farms where they faced many hardships. Gradually, they settled permanently in Lethbridge, Raymond, Coaldale, Taber, and Picture Butte. A Buddhist Church was founded in each location as a cultural centre of the community.

To celebrate the exhibit, Glenbow is having an afternoon of Japanese culture.
Rev. Leslie Kawamura and Rev. James Martin will lead a blessing ceremony for the beautiful Japanese Buddhist shrine recently donated to Glenbow.
Enjoy a wonderful dance performance by the Kaede Cultural Society and finish the afternoon with some tea and Japanese snacks.

Sunday, May 3, 2:00-4:00pm

Glenbow Museum
Level 2, Art of Asia Gallery
130–9 Avenue S.E. Calgary



Guide to Jodo Shinshu

The Calgary Buddhist Temple has put together a great guide available for downloading. It's called a "Guide to Jodo Shinshu Teaching and Practices."

The Guide was translated from Japanese to English by Kyojo S. Ikuta & Trudy Gahlinger of the Calgary Buddhist Temple.  It was originally developed as an introduction to Jodo Shinshu for the layperson.

Part One describes the life and teachings of the Buddha, and the history and evolution of Jodo Shinshu teachings.

While, Part Two discusses Jodo Shinshu practices, including Jodo Shinshu religious days and services.

It also answers the questions, "What is the Pure Land?" and "Who is an evil person?" The 63 page document (check your printer for ink and paper before downloading) also contains photos and information explaining the meaning and history of the ornaments and artifacts that comprise the Jodo Shinshu tradition.

The document was originally produced by the Renken Tokuhon Study Group in Japan.

The Guide is a great way to ready, study and understand the life of the Nembutsu.


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.


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

Buddha Relic Tour in Calgary

Under the sponsorship of the Buddhist Foundation of Canada, the Heart Shine Relic Tour of Buddha-relics was seen by many Calgarians at the Vietnamese Buddhist Temple on October 7, 2007. The tour conducted to raise funds for the Maitreya Project, a project to construct a very large image of Maitreya (the Future Buddha) in India, contained relics of many great Buddhist masters as well as those of the historical Siddhartha.

Joe Tomiyama during the walking meditation

Lloyd Tsukushima inspects the relics

IASBS Conference 2007

IASBS group in Banff, Alberta

In August, the World Conference of the International Association of Shin Buddhist Studies (IASBS) took place at the University of Calgary. The theme of the conference was "Neither monk nor layperson - The Spirit of Jodo Shinshu." While other Buddhist organizations are importing other forms of practice - Zen-style meditations, Hindu Yoga, Western Psychology, European Japanization - and seem to be doing better. There has become a slow fragmentation of Jodo Shinshu within the international scene. Delegates were asked to address this concern.

Over 100 participants attended the conference from all over the world. Twenty-five presentations were delivered from attending Shin Buddhist scholars. The guest was Professor Naito from Ryukoku University in Kyoto. The University of Calgary, Asian Studies Group, sponsored the visit of Professor Naito.

Sensei Rinban Matsubayashi (former BCC Bishop)

Sensei Grant Ikuta with Sensei Seikiya from Hongwanji, Kyoto (center two)

Sensei Kikuchi, Prof. Hoyu Ishida, Socho Fujikawa, Sensei Rinban Matsubayashi, Mrs. Matsubayashi, Tabitha Kobata

Lucy Yoshioka, Rocky Oishi, Lori North, Sensei Ulrich