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  3. Sending My Heart to Ven. Shinjun Izumi, A Former Head Priest of Takayama Zenkoji

Sending My Heart to Ven. Shinjun Izumi, A Former Head Priest of Takayama Zenkoji

Soon after I came to this temple, Takayama Zenkoji, as a manager at the beginning of February in 2020, I had a very interesting unexpected encounter. Probably that was the second week of February.

A Surprise Request

A nice middle-aged couple suddenly visited this temple and asked me to hold a memorial service for their uncle who died in the Battle of Tinian Island in the Second World War. I was a little bit surprised but I took them to a meeting room without any hesitation and tried to listen to them because I have already known the old story of the former head priest of this temple. They began to talk to me about the reason why they came here as soon as they sat on a sofa. About one week ago, they were actually in Takayama to see their son who lived in the nearby area of the city. On their way to his place, they stopped their car at a traffic signal located very close to this temple. They happened to see a memorial monument of the Battle of Tinian Island along the street. Then a few days later, they read an article written about Ven. Shinjun Izumi, a former head priest of this temple, contributed to pray for soldiers of both Japan and the United States who have died in the battles.

There was no reason why we hesitated to come here again. It was just like being encouraged by my uncle.” That was what they talked me in the middle of a story.

My Experience in the U.S.

That was when I used to live in a college in the United States almost twenty-five years ago.

My Japanese friend suddenly visited me who focused to study U.S. foreign affairs, especially the relationship between Japan and the United States. He brought me some personal belongings of Japanese soldiers in the Second World War and told me that his friend in the same department found them in the attic of his house. I was totally surprised and called some more Japanese friends who were interested in history at once. We all lost our words to say for a while when we saw them all spread on the floor. We found a bloody national flag filled with many messages and signatures. The biggest four kanjis said

“Long-lasting Good Luck in the Battle.”

All letters on the flag were written by brush pens and surely looked like fine art. That was so beautiful but sad.

One of us said

“the person who owned this definitely died in the battle. That is the reason why it is here.”

We spent all night drinking with them all to share memories. There is one more interesting story to tell you. Most of them were returned to an American owner with my message the next day. However, only a picture which we identified a person’s name and a place was finally brought back to its family in Okinawa. We finally found the owner’s grandfather was in the Battle of Okinawa and collected them as trophies.

In the Main Prayer Hall

I took that couple to the main prayer hall and we prayed for their uncle for a while. I chanted the Heart Sutra with them. Surprisingly, they completely followed me. The sound of chanting amazed me so much. I knew how many horrible battles in the Pacific were because my major in college was history. It was almost impossible for me to stop crying even though I was a professional Buddhist monk.

Venerable Shinjun Izumi, a former head monk of Takayama Zenkoji, who was famous in the Takayama city passed away by an accident in the Tinian Island on February 8th in 1999 but people still remember him and sometimes talk to me about how much he contributed to collect remains and prayed for all soldiers who died in battlefields. Every time I hear that kind of story, I take my hat off to him. I really respect him from the bottom of my heart.

Finally, a couple from Mie kindly promised me that they would come again to stay at this temple next time.

I strongly wish that this nice relationship will continue forever.



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