The Venice Buddhist Women’s Association (BWA) was originally founded in 1960 as the Fujinkai. Fujinkai in Japanese translates to Buddhist Women’s (Fujin) Association (kai). Through its participation and involvement in the greater Southern District Buddhist Women’s Association (SDBWA) (comprised of 13 chapters within the Southern District), as well as the Federation of Buddhist Women’s Association (FBWA)(comprised of 8 districts throughout the United States), our BWA promotes the Buddhist Dharma through the teachings of Jodo Shinshu. In addition, both the SDBWA and FBWA are affiliated with and contribute to the advancement of the Buddhist Churches of America.
The BWA contributes to the Temple by supporting and participating in all Temple activities and fundraisers, supporting and nurturing the youth groups, by preparing otoki (after service meals) for many of the Temple’s major services and by donating equipment and appliances.
Lady Takeko Kujo was the daughter of Abbot Kozui Otani, the 21st Abbot of the Nishi Hongwanji sect of Jodo Shinshu Buddhism. Lady Takeko Kujo founded the Fujinkai in order to promote the status and solidarity of Jodo Shinshu Buddhist women in Japan, which later spread overseas. Lady Takeko Kujo is best known for her humanitarian work in the aftermath of the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, which devastated the city of Tokyo.
We are also significantly influenced by Shinran’s wife, Eshinni and his daughter, Kakushinni, who both kept his teachings and memory alive so that we may appreciate and know his teachings today. Like many of our BWA members over the years, Eshinni and Kakushinni performed their roles as wives and mothers quietly but with strength and devotion.
The very first Venice BWA meeting was held on June 9, 1960 while the Temple was located on Culver Blvd., and consisted of a cabinet of 14 women. Over the past 50+ years, this number has grown to 105, with members ranging from girls to the 90’s.
Our BWA observes memorial services for Lady Takeko Kujo and for Esshini Sama and Kakushinni Sama, as well as late BWA members, in February. BWA also arranges annual fundraisers such as the Venice Japanese Community Center Festival (wontons), Obon Festival (wontons), and other events. We top the year off with our year-end party (Bonenkai) in December to thank all those who have supported BWA throughout the year.