Cherry Blossom Festival Reflects on the Seabrook’s History as a Japanese Settlement

Photo courtesy of Steven Defelice.

Between 1944 and 1947, more than 500 families of Japanese ancestry worked and lived around Seabrook Farms as part of government relocation programs. With the need for spiritual uplifting during the transition, Reverends Shosetsu Tsfura and Zaishin Mukushina began holding services that were open to all Buddhist sects.

In the winter of 1945, the Buddhist Church was formed. By 1965, the Seabrook Buddhist Sangha (congregation) received independent temple status. The year 1968 saw the groundbreaking for the temple and in 1969 it was finished. For 70 years, the dedicated Sangha have created a welcoming atmosphere for people to gather and hear the Buddha-Dharma (the teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha).

Photo courtesy of Steven Defelice.

On Saturday, April 28th, the Seabrook Buddhist Temple held its second annual Cherry Blossom Matsuri. Hana-Matsuri (Flower Festival) refers to the memorial service performed at temples throughout Japan to celebrate the birth of Buddha on April 8th. It is formally called Kanbutsue. On this day, small buildings decorated with flowers are made at temples and a Buddha figurine is placed inside. The figurine is sprinkled by worshippers using a ladle with ama-cha, a beverage made by soaking tea leaves in hot water.

Hana-Matsuri, now known worldwide as Cherry Blossom Festivals, has grown popular over the years as a celebration of spring and Japanese culture.