Happy Spring everyone!  The days are getting longer and weather getting nicer.  I am starting to see cherry blossoms as I walk around the neighborhood.  If you enjoy seeing cherry blossoms, then I hope that you will take advantage of a unique opportunity offered by Mikame Sensei to see the sakura at her home temple in Japan.  There will be a virtual Hanami (Cherry Blossom Viewing) hosted by Mikame Sensei on Saturday, April 3rd at 6:00 pm PDT.  Sensei’s family will stream live from Tokuzen-ji, share views of their family temple sakura, and tell us the history of their temple.  (see the notice in the Dharma or on our website) Really looking forward to that.

In March, I attended my first BCA National Council Meeting (virtually of course) and I found it very interesting.  I was pleasantly surprised to see how large and diverse the BCA has become.  Diverse in the sense of membership as well as activities that the BCA is involved.  If you get a chance, please take a look at their new website (buddhistchurchesofamerica.org).  It has recently been revamped and contains a lot of information.  The National Council Meeting was also, as it turns out, very timely.  On the weekend of the meeting, the vandalism acts perpetrated on the Higashi Hongwanji temple in Los Angeles occurred.  This spurred a conversation about the “Anti-Asian” violence issue that is currently a national topic of conversation.  Interestingly, an attendee from one of the Los Angeles area temples mentioned that until fully investigated, one should not assume that it was an anti-Asian act.  It could have been a “regular act of vandalism” as that temple, as well as all of Little Tokyo is directly adjacent to “skid row” as it called…an area with an extremely large homeless population consisting of many individuals with drug/alcohol problems or mental health issues.  This exact opinion was shared with me by my son who has worked in Little Tokyo for several years.  The message being that one shouldn’t assume anything until proven otherwise.  Yes, there does seem to be an increase in anti-Asian crime, but I wonder how much worse it is than “anti-Black” or “anti-Muslim” crime that has existed in the past years.  We should all remember that we are all interconnected and I hope that we can treat everyone as we would expect to be treated ourselves.  Having said that, please always be aware of your surroundings.  There is an effort being started in our own Japantown to have a volunteer group become a presence around town, especially during midday times when there are many elderly Asian people out and about.  If you have interest (and the time) and would like to volunteer, please contact Rich Saito at;  japantownprepared@gmail.com.

Ok…time to jump off my soapbox!  I am looking forward to April at the Betsuin.  The Board of Directors will be holding a retreat (actually at the end of March) where we will discuss ideas for the future of the Betsuin.  I am hoping to hear some new and innovative ideas on how to grow the Betsuin.  April is also the month for Hanamatsuri, Earth Day and Nikkei Matsuri.  We are now taking entry forms for our annual golf tournament to be held at the end of May (details in the Dharma or our website).  Get those clubs out and get ready for a great day of golf to support Generations Phase II.

Busy month, but I hope you can get out and enjoy the arrival of Spring!

In Gassho,