February 2, 2012

Jane Michiko Imamura, 1920–2011

The Rafu Shimpo today remembers the contributions of the late Jane Imamura to American Buddhism.

Jane Michiko Imamura is remembered for her warm and compassionate spirit as well as for her numerous contributions to the Berkeley Buddhist Temple, the Buddhist Churches of America, the Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawai‘i and the Hawai‘i Kyodan.

In addition, she was recognized for her active role in advancing and promoting the study of Shin Buddhism to Westerners.

[…]

“Jane Imamura made everyone, regardless of background or age, feel welcome and wanted,” said Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Gary Snyder, who along with other Beat Generation iconic figures such as Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac, studied Buddhism at the temple during the 1950s. “She was also a wonderful, personal friend and advisor, with a deep knowledge of Buddhist thought and values, and a great spirit of compassion and service…. Jane Imamura was kind of a beacon in my mind, a light to steer by all those years, and I know this was true for many others — not just me. My great thanks to her big spirit and extraordinary life.”

Jane Imamura was also the mother of Rev. Ryo Imamura, a founder of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship. A year ago, I reprinted his response to Tricycle founder Helen Tworkov’s assertion that “Asian-American Buddhists … have not figured prominently in the development of something called American Buddhism.” I hope you will recognize that Jane Imamura’s life was one immersed in the creation and development of the very institutions of American Buddhism that we take for granted today.

You can read more at the Rafu Shimpo online. Also check out Jon Kawamoto’s tribute to Jane Imamura, who passed away on December 26, 2011.

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