About the Author
Kenryu T. Tsuji (1919-2004) was the first Japanese-American Bishop of the Buddhist Churches of America (BCA), a position he held from 1968-1981. His pioneering efforts furthered the Dharma in both Canada and the United States. Born in British Columbia he persevered through the turmoil leading up to World War II. During internment during World War II and for a time after the war he supported his family in various menial jobs.
In 1946 Rev. Tsuji, along with a handful of devout Buddhist followers from the western Canadian coast, held the first Obon service in Canada; this seminal event led to the formation, in 1947, of the Toronto Buddhist Church. His pioneering efforts would result in the establishment of temples in Hamilton, Ontario and Montreal, Quebec. Rev. Tsuji led the Toronto congregation until 1959, when an invitation came from Bishop Shigefuji of the BCA, to serve as Director of the newly created, Bureau of Buddhist Education. Rev. and Mrs. Tsuji and their children moved to San Francisco, location of the BCA Headquarters. As head of the Education Bureau, Rev. Tsuji developed many programs to promote the Buddha-Dharma, including adult education seminars, the publication of books, pamphlets and ministerial aids, and the establishment of the BCA Buddhist Bookstore. After he was installed as the first western-born Bishop of the BCA in 1968, he translated a broad vision integrating all aspects of the Buddhist tradition into innovative programs and formal study, including the curriculum of the Institute of Buddhist Studies (IBS).
Upon retirement from the BCA in 1981, Rev. Tsuji and Rev. Dr. Yehan Numata, founded Ekoji Buddhist Temple (“Temple of the Gift of Light”) in northern Virginia. Rev. Tsuji and Dr. Numata shared a vision of Ekoji as a venue to minister support for the practice of Shin Buddhism and as a beacon of education and contemplation in Buddhism for denizens of the national capital area. To realize this vision, Rev. Tsuji organized and hosted spring and fall seminars for ministers and lay members on the eastern and midwest states where they would discuss and contemplate the BuddhaDharma. Notable Buddhist scholars and lecturers were invited to Ekoji as guest speakers while a weekly meditation for adults and monthly services for Japanese speaking members were added to the list of Ekoji programs. In addition to his duties as resident minister at Ekoji, Rev. Tsuji actively participated in interfaith activities, including World Religion Day. He served as president of the World Conference on Religion and Peace from 1983-1989.
To accommodate the growing Ekoji membership as well as to lay the groundwork for the future, a larger temple was built in 1998 close to the first Ekoji Temple site. To meet the needs of smaller-sized Shin Buddhist groups forming in the southeastern states, Rev. Tsuji helped form the Ekoji Buddhist Sangha of Richmond, Virginia and the Augusta Buddhist Sangha in Georgia. Rev. and Mrs. Tsuji devoted much of their spare time and energy to these groups by regular visits to the temples where they would cultivate growth and encourage the membership. Recognizing the importance of outreach in fostering knowledge of the Buddha-Dharma, Rev. Tsuji traveled to various states to lecture on Buddhism.
After an extraordinary 57 years of service in the Buddhist ministry, Rev. Kenryu T. Tsuji retired in 1999. [Rev. Tsuji passed away in 2004.]
— Pure Land Schools