Military Intelligence Service
Buddhist Study Center
After his retirement in 1986, Yoshiaki becomes Director of the Buddhist Study Center in Honolulu.
In 1998, he assumes the presidency of the Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai (Society for the Promotion of Buddhism).The aim of the organization is to place the teaching of Buddha in island hotel rooms.
Buddhist Study Center
Just when my term as bishop was ending in 1986, Rev. Kondo, who was the head of BSC, Buddhist Study Center, died in an accident on the Big Island. He was an excellent director there.
And so that position was open. After [Rev. Kondo] died and the place was open, and I lost my position as bishop, it was only natural that, well, they had to find some place for me, so I just stepped in.
Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai
And in the case of BDK, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai. By the way, that's translated, Society for the Promotion of Buddhism. It was in 78 or so when we were approached by the headquarters in Tokyo. Mr. Numata asked whether we would permit the establishment of a branch here. And I was then the bishop, so, I accepted that. And I asked Ralph Honda who had just retired from his position at Office Appliance, since he had time, whether he would take over as the president of BDK. And so he agreed and he did a great job.
He had people to help in visiting the hotels. And in ten years, he did wonders. He was a businessman, so he knew what he was doing. But after twenty years, in 1998 Ralph's health sort of deteriorated. His mind was still sharp but he just couldn't get around, he was bedridden. And so he asked to be relieved of that position.
And since I had been the one to appoint him to take over BDK, he said, "Well, I'll just give it back to you then." (Chuckles) So it came back to me. And I took over then, in 98.
The main job is to put the teaching of Buddha into the hotel rooms. And, well, we have quite a few hotels here in Hawaii and many of them have accepted the books.
But recently, there have been some hotels with the leadership, maybe the managers or presidents of some other faith, who are not willing to have Buddhist books in the hotels. And so they have been refusing and in some cases, they have been sending back books that they have. So this is a kind of a discouraging trend, right now. But it's up to them, you see. But we found that those hotels that have accepted these books, have really enjoyed having them because we also have the guests sending in requests for their own books. So there must be some benefit that they're getting.
Yoshiaki Fujitani's interview reprinted courtesy of the Center for Oral History. Photographs courtesy of Yoshiaki Fujitani.