I recently received a question from Germany. It was about Japanese name for our temple, Koloa Jodo Mission. What do you call Koloa Jodo Mission in Japanese? I thought this was a very interesting question since most Japanese Buddhist temples' names here in Hawaii have been registered and called as "Mission."
But of course, the word "Mission" is not Japanese. According to the Web dictionary, an English word "Mission" means "an important assignment carried out for political, religious, or commercial purposes, typically involving travel" or "the vocation or calling of a religious organization, especially a Christian one, to go out into the world and spread its faith. Then I knew the word mission came from the Latin "Mittere (miss, mit, mess)" meaning "to send." So the word "mission" indicates "originally, we are not local but are sent from different place."
Anyway, a Japanese name for our temple is "Koloa Jodo-in." The pronunciation of "in" is same as an English word "in." However it doesn't mean "in." "In" in Japanese means "a huge building surrounded by fences", which used to indicates "temple" and later "nobility." Then "Jodo" means "Pure Land", as you know.
Therefore "Koloa Jodo In" in Japanese can be translated into "Koloa Pure Land Temple" in English.
Generally speaking, most Jodo temples in Japan have long formal name which usually includes three different titles. They are San-gou（山号）, In-gou（院号）, and Ji-gou（寺号）.
For example, the formal name of "Chion-in知恩院" is called "Kacho-zan (San-gou), Chion-in (In-gou), Otani-dera (Ji-gou) 華頂山知恩院大谷寺"and another Jodo Shu head temple, Zojoji has a formal name of "Sanen-zan (San-gou), Koudo-in (In-gou), Zojoji (Ji-gou)三縁山広度院増上寺."
First, "San-gou山号" literally means "Mountain Name." This indicates temples used to be on the mountains and this custom that a temple has a name of mountain started in China around 6th century when many Buddhist temples were built. They say because there were so many similar temples' names that they added a location of the temple.
Next "In-gou院号" is a title which were given to the temples of the imperial families. As "in" literally means "huge buildings" which were owned by nobilities, later, retired emperor was also called "in." Then during "Edo era", "in" came to mean many more people with high rank or status. So the "In-gou" was a very honorable title which indicates receiving sponsorship from the nobilities.
Last, "Ji-gou寺号" is a title which simply indicates a name of temple. Ji-gou is usually named by the founder of the temple to mean an important message or a role of the temple.
Among three titles, Ji-gou is the most popular and most temples names are called by "Ji-gou."
I don't know why Koloa Jodo Mission didn't have both "San-gou (mountain name) and "Ji-gou." In 1985, when a new temple building was built, Rev. Kodo Tanaka named "San-gou" of our temple for the first time in the history of Koloa Jodo Mission. It was named as "Shuho-zan" after the artist Shuho Koiwai who donated ceiling arts to our temple.
This is the character for "Shuho-zan." Yes, "San-gou" is usually framed and displayed at the entrance of the temple. Mr. Shuho Koiwai passed away a decade ago, but his name and his art works are living here at Koloa.
Write a comment