The Buddhist Women’s Association is one the oldest, largest and most active organizations at the San Jose Buddhist Church Betsuin.
BWA members can be seen helping in a wide range of temple activities, from making sushi for the Obon Festival to cleaning the altar each year to helping at the Dharma School mochitsuki (making rice cakes). BWA members regularly visit patients at convalescent hospitals and raise money to support temple activities and organize food and clothing drives for charitable groups such as Yu-Ai Kai, Second Harvest Food Bank, the Women’s Gathering Place and Silicon Valley Strong, in addition to arranging fun social activities for themselves. The BWA has donated money for the organ, to buy robes for the ministers and to support the campaign to build new facilities. They are among the first to volunteer for any new temple activity. It wouldn’t be a Betsuin event without delicious food from the BWA.
BWA members are inspired by the founder of the international organization. Lady Takeko Kujo started the BWA in 1905 at a time when Japanese women were absent from leadership positions. Despite her privileged upbringing as the daughter of the head of our sect of Buddhism, Lady Kujo focused her all-too-short adult life promoting Buddhist women’s activities and helping the poor. She founded one of the first modern hospitals in Japan, helped start Kyoto Women’s University, and spearheaded relief efforts after a devastating earthquake in 1923, including rebuilding a major temple. She died of sepsis at age 42, contracting the illness after working in poor neighborhoods.
San Jose’s BWA was founded in 1908. It has successfully recruited a younger generation of women, who help keep the organization vital and energetic. The 140 members range in age from 14 to 101. The BWA is always looking for new members and is open to anyone who wants to join.
Reflecting on the importance of the organization, a BWA member said: “I have come to understand that being a BWA member is about sharing the Nembutsu with our Buddhist sisters, whether they live nearby or half a world away; sometimes sharing that experience involves cooking and sometimes it does not. The BWA, and all of groups with which it is affiliated, inspires and encourages Jodo Shinshu women to live by Shinran Shonin’s (the founder of Jodo Shinshu) teachings and to help spread those teachings.”
Our objectives are:
- To promote and cultivate appreciation of the Jodo Shinshu Buddhist teachings
- To propagate the Buddha-Dharma in association with the Buddhist Churches of America and the BCA Federation of Buddhist Women’s Associations
- To participate in social welfare services in gratitude for the Amida Buddha’s compassion
- To promote the betterment of our family, church and society