Japanese American Buddhist turns 110

- through Henry Oudin

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At 110 years old, Yoshiko Miwa is the oldest person of Japanese descent living in the United States today, according to the Gerontology Research Group. Although she has lived through many difficult events, including the 1918-20 flu pandemic, the Prohibition period in the United States, the New York Stock Exchange crash of 1929, and World War II, Miwa enjoys focus on positive thoughts.

Additionally, her parents died when Yoshiko was very young, but she encourages people not to dwell on the negative things in life.

Born on February 28, 1914, Miwa began life on a farm in Guadalupe, California, among seven children. His father was a hardworking man, an amateur blacksmith who made his own farm tools, harnesses and horseshoes. He also raised many different species of animals on the farm; including cows, chickens, pigs and horses.

Unfortunately, his father was unable to care for his large family and complete his farming duties after the death of his wife and one of his infant sons in 1919. As a result, he sent his children to live with Reverend Matsuura and his wife at the Guadalupe Buddhist Church. .

“The church then opened a children's home and taught us Buddhism, the Japanese language, Japanese culture and responsibility,” Miwa recalls. “I have always been indebted to Reverend and Mrs. Matsuura.” (Today)

Despite the many difficulties she faced in her early childhood, Miwa managed to graduate from Santa Maria High School in 1932, before majoring in business at the University of California, Berkeley. Seven years later, she married Henry Miwa in 1939. Unfortunately, the couple's marriage got off to a rocky start as they were among the many Japanese Americans imprisoned in internment camps during World War II. They were held at the Poston internment camp in Arizona.

Upon their release, Miwa and her husband moved to Hawthorne, California, where they opened a nursery and Yoshiko obtained her nursing license. They had three sons. And over the years, the family has grown to include 10 grandchildren, 20 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild.

In addition to her many accomplishments, Miwa authored an autobiography in which she details what life was like as a child growing up on a farm with her parents and siblings. She has many hobbies to keep her busy, including walking, reading, sewing, refinishing furniture, and practicing. ikebana (flower arrangement).

One of the sources of Miwa's great energy is her Buddhist faith. She describes her stay at the Guadalupe Buddhist Church children's home after her mother's death:

Living at the Guadalupe Children's Home is particularly meaningful to me because I was one of 30 children raised under the tutelage of Rev. and Mrs. Issei Matsuura. My primary and secondary school years were spent with (the) Reverend and his family.

(Buddhist Churches of America)

Miwa noted that the home placed a strong emphasis on moral and ethical principles. The children were required to take Japanese classes and adhere to strict evening study schedules.

“The strict training disciplined me, which then influenced me and gave me direction in life,” Miwa said. (Buddhist Churches of America)

The Guadalupe Buddhist Church, a member organization of the Buddhist Churches of America (BCA), was founded in the early 1900s by Japanese immigrants who arrived in the Santa Maria Valley to work in the sugar beet fields. The Japanese population grew rapidly in the valley, reaching around 500 people by 1909. Residents began to organize themselves by founding an organization called "Kyogikai", designed to work for their collective benefit.

Eventually it was decided that a religious organization was necessary for the Japanese living in the valley. They wrote to Buddhist and Christian organizations for help, eventually deciding to found a Buddhist Church.

The Buddhist Churches of America appointed Rev. Izumida as the first leader of the Guadalupe congregation in January 1909. Congregants rented a house to hold services and used an image of Amida Buddha as a central point of worship.

See more

Oldest Japanese American Woman, 110, Who Still Gets Her Hair done Weekly, Shares Tips for Living Long (Today)
Tribute to Yoshiko Miwa, supercentenarian of the BCA (Buddhist Churches of America)
Guadalupe Buddhist Church

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The post Japanese American Buddhist Reaches 110 appeared first on Buddhadoor Global.

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Henry Oudin

Henry Oudin is a Buddhist scholar, spiritual adventurer and journalist. He is a passionate seeker of the depths of Buddhist wisdom, and travels regularly to learn more about Buddhism and spiritual cultures. By sharing his knowledge and life experiences on Buddhist News, Henry hopes to inspire others to embrace more spiritual and mindful ways of living.

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