Thursday’s International Herald Tribune has a story about a Japanese temple that migrated from Nagoya to South Carolina.
The former Buddhist temple sits opposite a waterfall on the campus of Furman University, with vistas of the Blue Ridge Mountains when the trees are bare….
Believed to be the only temple moved from Japan to the U.S., the so-called Place of Peace was shipped in 2,400 pieces and reassembled by 13 specialized temple artisans from Japan.
After three years of fundraising and 2 1/2 months of construction, the building is serving as a classroom and a centerpiece of an Asian studies program that graduated 60 students last spring — three times the number it did five years ago.
Shaner’s ties to a Japanese family that moved to Greenville in the 1960s helped bring the temple to campus. TNS Mills, which stood for Tsuzuki New Spinning, supplied spools of thread to the textile mills that were the heart of Greenville’s economy. Sister and brother Yuri and Seiji Tsuzuki — chairman of what is now Wellstone Mills — grew up in Greenville, but the family maintained its home in Japan.
The temple was built on Tsuzuki land in Nagoya in 1984 as the family’s private worship place.
When they sold to developers, the siblings in November 2004 proposed a way to save the temple from destruction: Offer it to Furman. The family has a long-standing friendship with Shaner, a world-renowned aikido instructor and sensei, or teacher, to Yuri and Seiji Tsuzuki’s mother, Chigusa, who died in 1995.
But the school had to move quickly. The temple had to be off the family’s property by January 2005.
“The reason why this is so rare, had this temple ever served a lay community and had an assigned priest, then you would never, ever, ever move it from Japan,” Shaner said. “It would be like bad karma.”
The temple was disassembled and shipped overseas in four 40-foot containers, with each piece labeled and its beams secured by wood braces to prevent warping. It sat in the Tsuzukis’ storage in Gaffney, South Carolina, as the school raised $400,0000 for the temple’s reconstruction and maintenance.
I would bet that a good bit of that money was raised from people who had already been donating to support Southern Baptist missionaries in Japan. This is a nice turnabout. A Japanese temple overlooking the Blue Ridge certainly appeals to me.