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Memoirs of a Buddhist Woman Missionary in Hawaii

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By Shigeo Kikuchi, translated by Florence Okada.
Shigeo Kikuchi's account of plantation life in the early years of the twentieth century is a unique piece of Hawaiiana as well as a long needed account of the life of a Buddhist missionary in that era. The Kikuchi's were among the highly educated caring men and women who left comfortable lives in Japan to serve as Buddhist ministers, dharma teachers, counsellors, and educators in the plantation villages of rural Hawaii. First in Wailuku, Maui and then for nearly half a century in the remote Big Island village of Naalehu, they shared the economic hardships of the immigrant Japanese laborers whom King Kalakaua had invited to become Hawaii's new citizens. In her memoirs Mrs. Kikuchi gives us unforgettable pictures of the young Nisei soldiers who volunteered to serve in the U.S. Army in World War I, of the cooperative efforts of the whole community when a wedding was to take place, and of the role played by the temple in providing a social life, acting as communication links between illiterate issei and their families in Japan, and helping raise the new American generation of Nisei. The personal courage and inner strength of this frail woman, and her genuine humility and sense of joyous gratitude, give readers a rich understanding of what it means to live in the nembutsu.