By Hideya Chiji
The inner and external causes and conditions which bring forth certain effects do work in a strange way especially to us who are living within the bounds of the time and space. It is beyond our prediction. It was such an inconceivable occurrence that my services while in Bombay, India and research in India, have brought me the opportunity of working on this mural painting project here in Los Angeles Betsuin. This Butsuen (Cause and Effect) which has brought me here is strange indeed and one I cannot comprehend.
While I was painting in Bombay, Mr. Tsunesaburo Nakayama who was once assistant district manager of the Bank of Tokyo in Bombay and who was appointed to the post of branch manager of Bank of Tokyo, Los Angeles, California, in February 1968, informed me of the new Nishi Hongwanji Betsuin being constructed in Los Angeles. Following this, Dr. Ryogon Fukuhara of the Ryukoku University in Kyoto, Japan, introduced me, through a letter, to Rinban Ryuei Masuoka, head minister of the Nishi Hongwanji Betsuin and to the Board of Directors.
On September 8, by air mail I received an official letter an offer to take charge of the mural painting for the new Betsuin from Rinban Masuoka and Mr. Eiju Sasajima, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Los Angeles Betsuin.
I realized that I could not take on such a tremendous project all by myself for it was beyond my means and power. Immediately, I held a personal art exhibit in Japan and with the help of my friends and supporters I was able to make preparations for this huge undertaking. Accompanied by my son, Yasuhiro, I left Yokohama for Los Angeles by ship and arrived at Los Angeles on 17th of November.
Upon arrival, l paid my respects to the Hondo of the new temple and my thoughts at that time was how I was going to put on the wall of the Hondo the 80 years of the biography of the life of Buddha. I spent endless nights figuring out which part of his life would be depicted on the canvas. The choice has to be made from his life of 80 years and as to the composition in color on the canvas. Thanks to the well wishes and encouragement of my friends and supporters both here and in Japan since my arrival I have been able to within the one year and half carry out my assigned work on time. During this period I have been bestowed the honor of conducting Japanese Brush Painting classes as both Culver City and here at the Betsuin as well personal art exhibits last year.
Three years have passed since I first started on this project and I am truly happy to have come into contact with numerous blessings too many to mention. The blessings of the Buddha and the merits and protection of the various people. Without any serious mishaps on my part and being healthy and free from sickness for the entire period I have been able to complete this work as desired by the temple, For these and all of the blessings and well wishes of my friends here in America and well as supporters in Japan I am eternally grateful and I wish to express my appreciation to everyone