Bishop Chikai Yosemori

Wednesday - February 21, 2007
By Kerry Miller | Share

Bishop Chikai Yosemori
Bishop Chikai Yosemori

For 11 years, Bishop Chikai Yosemori has given his heart and soul to the Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii, proudly serving its 8,000 families and 36 temples. The Waipahu native is retiring as of March 1, and though he’ll miss his days as an “active minister” he looks forward to enjoying other aspects of his life.

“I became 75 years old, that seems too old to keep the business in charge so it’s time for me to give young people the church,” says the MidWeek cover subject from June 2000.

Yosemori says he’s proud that he got to have a role in establishing the first Buddhist high school in America, a long-time goal of the mission. The Pacific Buddhist Academy celebrates its fourth year this year, and graduates its first class of students.

“They are the hope for coming into the community,“Yosemori says of the students. “As long as I stay here I join the school family, I miss them very much.”

“(We’re) very fortunate to have a very good director for the Buddhist center right now. He (will) take my position. I don’t have to worry about it after I left,” adds Yosemori, adding that the Rev. Thomas Okano will take his position as bishop of the mission after March 1, the day of his retirement banquet.

Though he hasn’t written anything to say yet at the banquet, the bishop says he wants to express a message of continuing teamwork within the mission. “Church work is an endless one. We always try to improve. I say ‘we’accomplish, not ‘I’accomplish. All members work very hard together with me.”

He also wants to emphasize the importance of educating the young people. “We just start our education (the new Pacific Buddhist Academy). (I want) young members to give a future generation more good education.”

Once he’s in his “retirement,” what will Yosemori do with his newly acquired spare time? He’s taking a vacation!

“For the past 42 years, I never take a vacation,” he laughs. “I often go out of state, to neighbor island all for church business. I never give my children a family vacation.”

Yosemori’s family includes his wife Chihoko. He laughs, explaining that “many people confuse my wife name and my name (Chikai).” The couple has been married for 43 years and have one son Eric, 42, and a daughter, JoAnn, who is either 38 or 39, Yosemori says.

“If I count their age I feel old,” he jokes.

The couple also has two grandchildren, Kayla and Cydney. Bishop Yosemori’s retirement banquet will be held at the Hilton Hawaiian Village’s Coral Ballroom, starting at 5:30 p.m. For more information call 522-9200.

-Kerry Miller

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