VANCOUVER ISLAND OBON TOUR 2008
The ‘Obon Tour’ this year was not an ‘Obon Tour’ as such, but rather a weekend of Cemetery Visitations on Vancouver Island. The ‘tour’ unfortunately had to be cancelled this year due to lack of participants. This year’s group consisted of Socho (Bishop) Fujikawa, of the Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Temples of Canada who conducted the services, and Mrs. Fujikawa and Roy and Betty Inouye.
Our first stop on the Island was Cumberland. On arrival at the Cumberland Cemetery, we were met by around ten people, and the first words they spoke were “Where’s the bus? We had to explain that we were ‘it’ as unfortunately, the Obon Tour had to be cancelled due to lack of participants to fill the bus. They were disappointed but a service was held, with all participating in offering incense. We then drove to Port Alberni, where once again we were asked “Where’s the bus?” by those waiting to greet us. After the short service, it was on to Nanaimo. We held a short service on our own at the Nanaimo cemetery. After dinner, we met the Nanaimo Buddhist Fellowship Group, and an Obon Service was held at the home of Mr. Fukui.
The following morning, we left for Chemainus where we held a short service on our own. Then it was on to Duncan, where we were once again met with “Where’s the bus?” by the people waiting to join us. After the short service, we proceeded to Victoria and held a service at the Ross Bay Cemetery with the Victoria Buddhist Fellowship Group and the Victoria Old Cemeteries Society. Around 40 people were in attendance. Socho Fujikawa performed the Buddhist Obon Service and then the Old Cemetery Society members took people on a tour of the cemetery while the four of us left to catch the ferry back to Vancouver.
Many people ask “Who wants to spend a weekend visiting cemeteries? Well, those who do so do find it interesting and educational as it is our history, but it is not just ‘cemetery visits’. It is paying our respects to our pioneers, seeing the sights on the Island, meeting the Japanese Canadians and other citizens who come to meet us at each stop, and most important, it is meeting and socializing with the people from across Canada and enjoying their friendship. All who have been on previous tours say they thoroughly enjoyed the tour.
Yes, we will try for a tour again next August, tentatively on August 7, 8, 9 2009 so if you have been thinking of taking the tour ‘some day’, mark the dates down now and make the ‘some day’, next August. We need at least 30-35 people to make it viable, and we need the people registered by mid-June as rooms must be reserved early, and the reserved rooms must then be cancelled by beginning of July if not needed, or we lose our deposit. To those of you who did plan to attend Obon Tour 2008, our apologies for having cancelled the tour this year. Please join us next year. If any of you know now that you would like to go on the tour next year, you can email us now at email@example.com. It is never too early to register.
Betty Inouye, for BC Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Churches Federation