200 expected at Buddhist Convention

by Larry Meyer, The Argus Observer, Feb 10, 2016

ONTARIO, Canada -- More than 200 people are expected in Ontario this weekend for the 69th annual Northwest District Shin Buddhist Convention.

The convention takes place Friday through Sunday at Four Rivers Cultural Center, said Rev. Joshin Dennis Fujimoto at the Idaho-Oregon Buddhist Temple.

Buddhists from the other temples in the Northwest, including Portland; Seattle; Tacoma, Washington; Auburn, Washington; and Spokane, Washington; will be coming by bus. Local temple members are usually the ones on a bus traveling to the other locations, he said.

About 230 to 250 people are planned for the conference, Fujimoto said, “which is a nice showing.”

Ontario hosts the district convention every six years. The last one was in 2010.

The convention theme this year is Seeking the True and Real, according to information provided by Fujimoto.

“This theme is reflective of the basic human desire to find a life that is substantive, integrated and stable,” he said. “Buddhist teachings and practice serve as a guide to this search for a life that is true and real.”

They keynote speaker will be Mark Blum, professor of East Asian Language and Cultures at the University of California, Berkeley.

Blum specializes in Pure Land Buddhism throughout East Asia with a focus on the Japanese medieval period, Fujimoto said. Fujimoto said he previously came in contact with Blum at study sessions at Berkeley and invited him to come to Ontario.

Also attending the convention will be the Rev. Koda Umezu, bishop of the Buddhist Churches of America.

There will be a variety of workshops and activities for convention goers to participate in, Fujimoto said. They will including, yoga, Japanese fly fishing and sessions on caregiving.

“I think it’s great it’s coming to Ontario,” said Connie Tanaka, a member of the local Buddhist temple.

Two local hotels are booked for the event, with activities at the Cultural Center. Preparations for convention have included food purchases and arranging catering, Tanaka said, and it will provide a boost to the community.