KIG - Kansai International Group Kansai International Group
All about KIG - Kansai International Group

Welcome to the KIG cafe! This is the website of Kansai International Group, English speaking members of Sokagakkai who practice Nichiren Buddhism in the Kansai area of Japan. Kansai includes Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, etc. Whether you are living in Kansai, planning a visit, or just browsing, we hope you will find this website infomative and enjoyable.

Kansai International Group
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        About KIG: Kansai International Group

The History of Kansai International Group (KIG)

KIG was formed in 1974 out of "grass roots" necessity: the English-speaking foreign members back then could speak Japanese to some extent but could not read or write it. Nevertheless, they were attending Buddhist meetings in Japanese within the Japanese organization. Yet, it was still difficult to understand the profound concepts of Buddhism for those who weren't raised in the Japanese school system. This was very frustrating for the foreign members. Of course, there also existed an International Group, but even those meetings were held in Japanese, as it was for Japanese members who had overseas experience or language skills.

Furthermore, when the English-speaking foreign members brought guests or friends, they had to simultaneously translate the meetings for them by whispering in their ears. This apparently created a minor disturbance in the meeting itself. So it was finally decided that they needed to have their own meetings in English. Thus KIG had its first meeting in May, 1974.

KIG had its meetings in various members' houses, but eventually started using community centers because the membership was growing. The first meetings were held in Nishinomiya, which is a small city between Osaka and Kobe, but eventually meetings were held on a rotational basis in Osaka and Kobe.

During the late '70s and '80s, KIG had various training courses and participated in several culture festivals. In the summer of 1975, KIG had its first training course, by Lake Biwa. On January 15th, 1976, KIG members were able to meet SGI President Daisaku Ikeda in Osaka. The members recited the Lotus Sutra with him, and there was a long question and answer session. Afterwards, a commemorative photograph was taken. He gave the members a mission, a purpose for practicing in Japan. He explained the important role that foreigners had in Japan. He also met with KIG members again in October of 1976, when he gave every member an omamori gohonzon (a miniature, portable version of the object of worship).

In the summer of 1976, KIG held its second training course in Shiga. And in the same year, members participated in the Kobe Culture Festival. KIG members participated in two further culture festivals - Koshien in 1985, and Hyogo in 1987.

In addition to these activities, KIG has also assisted the Japanese international group members in proofreading English translations of peace proposals by SGI President Ikeda as well as carrying out other translation work.

Nowadays, KIG members also assist in interpreting for the simultaneous broadcasts that are held nationwide. It has been more than thirty-five years since KIG was formed, but it is still growing and is contributing in many significant ways to Buddhist activities in the Kansai region.

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