The Hilo Hongwanji Buddhist Women’s Association will hold services to celebrate the lives of Lady Eshinni and her daughter, Kakushinni, at 9 a.m. on Sunday, April 28, at the Honpa Hongwanji Hilo Betsuin at 398 Kilauea Ave. in Hilo.
The Rev. Shingo Furusawa will officiate the services. Mistress of ceremonies will be Carole Tsutsumi. Everyone is invited.
Who are Eshinni and Kakushinni, and why does the BWA have a service for them annually?
The following is a brief background.
The founder of the church’s Jodo Shinshu sect of Buddhism was Shinran Shonin. Eshinni was Shinran’s wife and Kakushinni, a daughter, was the youngest of their six children.
Eshinni was born in Niigata Prefecture in 1182 and married Shinran about 1210. Little is known about her except through 10 letters she wrote to Kakushinni during the waning years of her life. These letters were discovered in Hongwanji (mother temple of the Jodo Shinshu sect in Kyoto, Japan) archives in 1921.
“They cast light on many ‘holes’ not only on our knowledge about her life, but Shinran’s as well,” said a BWA spokeswoman. Eshinni died at about age 89 in Niigata prefecture.
As Eshinni is revered for her dedication to Shinran during his productive years, Kakushinni is known for being her father’s caregiver in his final years. She was about 30 years old when Shinran died at the age of 90. And after Shinran’s death, Kakushinni is revered for planting the seeds that were to grow into today’s Hongwanji.
Ten years after Shinran’s passing, Kakushinni built a memorial hall for his remains, and established the means for insuring the hall and the property it was built on would belong to the Jodo Shinshu Sangha in all future generations. A monument stands in front of the Butsuden (Hondo) at the Ohtani Mausoleum to pay tribute to Kakushinni’s contributions.
At a meeting in 1978 in Sao Paulo, Brazil, the World BWA — comprised of BWA organizations of Japan, the U.S. mainland, Hawaii, Canada and Brazil — passed a resolution to conduct annual services in memory of Eshinni. Then in 2002, the World BWA passed a resolution to similarly honor Kakushinni.
The Honpa Hongwanji Hilo Betsuin Buddhist Women’s Association is presently led by President Lillie Tsuchiya and has 300 members. For more information, call the temple office at 961-6677.