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Rev. Shojo Honda papers


Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts [Contact Us]3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

Reverend Shojo Honda was born in 1929 and dedicated his life to study, service, and education. Honda's obituary in the Washington Post, May 10, 2015, provides a detailed summary of his life's work:

"Rev. Shojo Honda passed away on April 13, 2015 after a lengthy bout with respiratory problems. He was 85. Shojo was born on June 25, 1929 in Koloa, Kauai, Hawaii. He was raised mostly in Noda (Takatsuki City, Osaka Prefecture), Japan. The son of a Jodo Shinshu Buddhist priest, he earned Tokudo ordination in 1946 from Nishi Honganji. In 1952 he graduated from Ryukoku University (Kyoto) with degrees in Indian and Buddhist Philosophy. He would subsequently earn Kyoshi, Fukyoshi, and Hokubei Kaikyoshi ordinations. After working several years at a reform school in Osaka, he emigrated to the United States in 1957, working as a Buddhist minister and Japanese language instructor in Los Angeles while studying English at Santa Monica City College. In 1958 he moved to New York, working and living at the New York Buddhist Church and assisting at the Seabrook (NJ) Buddhist Temple as he continued his English studies at Columbia University and New York University. He married Yone June Ito on August 25, 1959, and together they moved to Washington D.C. later that year. In 1959 he founded the Washington D.C. Sangha, the first Shin Buddhist congregation the area, which he led for more than 40 years. Meanwhile he continued his English studies at American University. The Library of Congress hired him in 1961, where he worked for 30 years, eventually rising to Senior Reference Librarian of the Japanese Section, Asian Division. There, in addition to his daily duties, he created an exhibition on Japanese calligraphy and authored bibliographies of the Library of Congress' Japanese Pre-Meiji collections in three areas: Mathematics; Art; and Literature and Performing Arts. In retirement, he served as Volunteer Minister at Ekoji Buddhist Temple from 2000 through 2010. His wife of 54 years passed away in 2014 from cancer. His hobbies included painting, drawing, photography, carpentry, and writing. His final book, Stories for Wisdom, a children's book, was published in 2013."

Stories for Wisdom, Honda's adaptations of folk tales, was published by the Bukkyō Dendō Kyōkai America, the Society for the Promotion of Buddhism, an organization of which Honda was a member and whose organizational prospectuses are found in the Rev. Shojo Honda Papers. A March 2014 book review from Wheel of Dharma, the official publication of the Buddhist Churches of America quotes Honda as saying "These stories are stories of wisdom, and not just for school children, but for people of all ages and from all backgrounds. […] There is something for everyone, at all stages of life." Honda's interest in adaptations is shown from two mimeographed adaptations of Japanese short stories: Ogawa Mimei's "Akai Rōsoku to Ningyo" ("The Red Candle and the Mermaid") and Akutagawa Ryūnosuke's "To Shishun" ("The Story of Du Zichun") both printed at the Japanese Institute of Sawtelle in Los Angeles. (Curiously, the date of Akai Rōsoku to Ningyo is listed as "1956," a year before Honda's immigration). Both of these mimeographed editions were included in Honda's donated library.

In addition to adapting stories for new audiences, Honda also created bibliographies for the Japanese collections of the Library of Congress. His three-volume Pre-Meiji Works in the Library of Congress were published by the Library from 1982-2002 as installments of the series Asian Division Bibliographic Series. The second of these volumes, Japanese Literature, Performing Arts, and Reference Books: a Bibliography, was annotated by Jinʼichi Konishi 小西甚一 (1915-2007), a former professor emeritus at Tsukuba University who specialized in comparative literature and the history of Japanese literature. Honda and Konishi's friendship is documented in part by a file of correspondence, a collection of clippings about Konishi's publications, and a photograph of the two men together.


Kondo, Gail Kitahara. Remembering Reverend Shojo Honda. In Kalavinka: the Newsletter of the Ekoji Buddhist Temple, vol. XXXIIV, No. 5, May 2015. Retrieved from

Obituary: Shojo Honda. Washington Post. March 10, 2015. Retrieved from:

Stories for Wisdom [book review]. Wheel of Dharma: Official Publication of the Buddhist Churches of America, vol. 40, issue 3, March 2014. Retrieved from

The Rev. Shojo Honda Papers collect and organize handwritten notes, correspondence, photocopies, clippings, study materials, papers, and ephemeral material donated as part of the Rev. Honda Shojo Collection. Many of these items functioned as ad hoc bookmarks in Honda's extensive collection of books. Others were donated as discrete items in their own folders or boxes.

Box 1 roughly includes material resulting from Rev. Honda's interpersonal and public activity. Box 2 focuses largely on Honda's newspaper clippings and study materials as well as book-related ephemera. Individual folders are outlined below.

"Correspondence, Organizational" contains letters and gift notices from professional associations like Buddhist Churches of American and Bukkyō Dendō Kyōkai (BDK, a.k.a. Society for the Promotion of Buddhism, a.k.a) from 1966-2013. Some items are undated.

"Correspondence, Personal" contains letters, postcards, greeting cards, aerogrammes and other items addressed to Rev. Honda and his wife Yone, dating from 1961-2009. Some items are undated.

"Jin'ichi Konishi" contains largely correspondence from Jinichi Konishi including new year's cards, and clippings and ephemera about his literary exploits, dating between 1983-2002. One photograph from 1986 picturing Konishi and Honda is included. Some items are undated.

"Photographs" contains one photograph of a man Inagaki Zuiken (1885-1981) dated late September 1978, and one group photograph including Honda from June 10, 2013.

"Lifestyle Ephemera" contains purchase receipts, ticket receipts, business cards, and other ephemera from 1952-2012. Some items are undated.

"Memorials and Observances" includes pamphlets from memorial services and ceremonies as well as a 1996 "ema" wooden devotional plaque. Date material ranges from 1954-2004.

"Yokohama Foreigners Cemetery" is a collection of materials dating 1984-2003 related to a project to place flowers at the grave of the Ito family interned at Yokohama Yamate Gaijin Bochi. Includes photographs dated September 13, 1987 of the flower placement, handwritten maps of the graveyard, picture postcards featuring views of and from the graveyard, and a florist's booklet. Also in this folder is a copy of the 20 page booklet Yokohama Gaijin Bochi Jinmeiroku 横浜外人墓地・人名録. 3rd edition. (Yokohama: Gaijin Bochi o Aisuru Kai, 1984), which is cataloged separately with BibID 7068614.

"Ekoji Temple Decoration and Redesign" documents a 2009 plan to redecorate the Ekoji Buddhist Temple of Fairfax, VA, with plans, photographs, estimates, and product information flyers and pamphlets.

"Buddhist Temple Booklets" contains larger format guide and souvenir booklets from Hōryū-ji Temple法隆寺, Tōdai-ji Temple 東大寺 (includes paper slip "o-mikuji" with fortune drawn at the temple), Byōdō-in Temple平等院, and Yakushi-ji Temple 藥師寺.

"Buddhist Temple Leaflets & Pamphlets" contains many smaller format leaflets, pamphlets, guide maps, and admission tickets from Buddhist temples throughout the Kansai region. One admission ticket is dated [Heisei] 15, i.e. 2003.

"Newsletter and Bulletins" contains specimens of newsletters in English and Japanese from 1964-2012. Titles include: Graduate Bulletin Harvard, Kinryūji-hō近龍寺報, Kodamaこだま, "Kokoro" New York: Honganji Bukkyō Kaihō 「こころ」ニユーヨーク: 本願寺仏敎会会報, Zenbutsu 全仏, Japanese Dharma Message for Kokoro, BCA Update, and The Dharma Breeze. See "Oversize Newsletters" folder for more.

"Pasēnadi to Marrikā" contains correspondence and ephemera related to Rev. Honda's subscription of the Buddhist little magazine Pasēnadi to Marrikā (shelf number BQ4120 .P373, BibID 7076336).

"BDK Ayumi" contains one English and one Japanese edition of Ayumi あゆみ, prospectus of Bukkyō Dendō Kyōkai (Society for the Promotion of Buddhism), undated. Final item in historical chronology dated 2013.

"Religious and Moral Pamphlets" contains six smaller format pamphlets on a variety of religious and moral topics:

--Buddhism and Worship (Bodhi Leaves ; no. 8) / Prof. G.P. Malalasekera (Kandy, Ceylon [Sri Lanka]: Buddhist Publication Society : Sita Printing Works)

--Aesop's Fables / Jerry Pinkney (New York: AIG, [2000 or later])

--Brief Introduction to Jodo Shinshu / Takashi Tsuji (San Francisco: Buddhist Churches of America)

--Is Shin Buddhism the Same as Christianity? / Rev. Philipp Karl Eidmann

--7 Gods of Good Fortune

--Confucius and Confucianism for America ([Washington, D.C.]: Center for Dao-Confucianism U.S.A)

"Sightseeing and Exhibitions" contains pamphlets and postcards from art and museum exhibitions and collections, and travel maps and promotions for sightseeing locations throughout Japan. Dated items span 1963-2006.

"Music" contains two pieces of music. One is a manuscript copy of a Ryukoku University song, "Ryūkoku Daigaku Kōka 龍谷大學黌歌. The other is a photoduplication of "Aogeba Tōtoshi" あおげば尊し.

"Overview of Pre-Meiji Works" contains annotated, unannotated, and manuscript draft versions of a paper presented at the Fourteenth Annual Meeting of the Mid-Atlantic of the Association for Asian Studies, held at George Washington University, October 25-27, 1985. Includes 13 photographic slides in mounts. Also includes meeting program book. Folder label has date "1985-11-26."

"Finding Aid References" contains materials printed by the Penn Libraries in 2016 to provide hard copies of the three items referenced in the Biography/History section of this finding aid.

The six "Clippings" folder contain newspaper clippings, detached pages from magazines, and photocopies of articles on a variety of topics including Japanese Buddhism and culture and Chinese poetry. One folder focuses on the appointment of the first Buddhist chaplain in the U.S. Armed Forces, Jeanette Shin, a member of Rev. Honda's sect. Another folder features just one clipping about the "history of zero" that Honda had kept in its own informal tuckbox labeled Zero no Rekishi 〇の歴史.

"Clip Art and Decoration" contains clipped images from newspapers and other images that appear to have been used as clip art for Honda's projects.

The three "Study Material" contain handwritten and printed items used for Honda's study of Buddhism, language, history, and health. Of note is extensive Sanskrit study notes originally located in Jisshū Bongogaku 實習梵語學 (shelf number PK585.J3 O35 1916, BibID 7068866). Some of these Sanskrit notes are written on blank forms used to collect youth crime statistics.

"Manuscript Poetry" contains handwritten poems in both modern Japanese and classical Japanese (Kanbun), chiefly written on discarded used Library of Congress Orientalia Division catalog cards.

"Buddhist Sculpture" contains a folder of ordered handwritten notes on a series of slide images of Buddhist sculpture (slides not present). Also includes various supporting documents and notes. Folder has title Butsuzō Shirīzu 仏像シリーズ ("Buddhist Sculpture Series") and date 1983.

"History of Buddhist Sculpture" contains a binder of ordered notes on a series of slide images of Buddhist sculpture (slide not present). Also includes various supporting documents and notes. Folder has title Butsuzō no Rekishi仏像の歷史 ("History of Buddhist Sculpture").

"Life of Buddha" contains a folder of ordered handwritten notes on a series of slide images of Buddhist historical sites (slides not present). Also includes various supporting documents, maps, and notes. Folder has title Budda no Shōgai Busseki Suraido Kaisetsu 仏陀の生涯 仏跡スライド゙解說 ("Explanations of Slides on the Life of Buddha and Buddhist Sites"). Folder is dated 1986.

"Library of Congress Artifacts" includes a serials title slip from Library of Congress's Newspaper and Current Periodical Room dated 1970, and a copy of Outline of the Library of Congress Classification, 2nd edition (1970).

"Book Prospectuses and Pamphlets" contains publisher advertisements for books published in Japan. Some contain distributor information for Japan Publications Trading.

"Book Ephemera" contains a variety of bookmarks found in Honda's collection, as well as third-party book covers from the U.S. Naval Reserve and Arlington County Schools. This folder also includes a photocopy made by the Penn Libraries' of Honda's infrequently used bookplate.

"Oversize Newsletters" contains two items too large to fit in the "Newsletter and Bulletins" folder: Bunka Jihō Shinshū-ban 文化時報 真宗版 = The Bunkajiho no.6030 (Kyoto: Bunka Jihōsha 文化時報社, February 13, 1937); and Hōrin ほうりんno. 2 (Beikoku Bukkyōdan米国沸教団, February 1979).

Gift of Honda, Tamon.

University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
Finding Aid Author
Michael Patrick Williams
Finding Aid Date
2017 February 6
Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research use.

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Copyright restrictions may exist. For most library holdings, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania do not hold copyright. It is the responsibility of the requester to seek permission from the holder of the copyright to reproduce material from the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.

Collection Inventory

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Correspondence, Organizational, 1966-2013.
Box 1 Folder 1
Correspondence, Personal, 1961-2009.
Box 1 Folder 2
Jin'ichi Konishi, 1983-2002.
Box 1 Folder 3
Photographs, 1978-2013.
Box 1 Folder 4
Lifestyle Ephemera, 1952-2012.
Box 1 Folder 5
Memorials and Observances, 1954-2004.
Box 1 Folder 6
Yokohama Foreigners Cemetery, 1984-2003.
Box 1 Folder 7
Ekoji Temple Decoration and Redesign, 2009.
Box 1 Folder 8
Buddhist Temple Booklets, 1970s and 1980s?.
Box 1 Folder 9
Buddhist Temple Leaflets and Pamphlets, 2000s?.
Box 1 Folder 10
Newsletter and Bulletins, 1964-2012.
Box 1 Folder 11
Pasenadi to Marrika, 1993-2004.
Box 1 Folder 12
BDK Ayumi, 2013.
Box 1 Folder 13
Religious and Moral Pamphlets (six items below), 1960s through 2000s.
Box 1 Folder 14
Buddhism and Worship (Bodhi Leaves ; no. 8) / Prof. G.P. Malalasekera (Kandy, Ceylon [Sri Lanka]: Buddhist Publication Society : Sita Printing Works), undated.
Box 1 Folder 14
Aesop's Fables / Jerry Pinkney (New York: AIG), 2000 or later.
Box 1 Folder 14
Brief Introduction to Jodo Shinshu / Takashi Tsuji (San Francisco: Buddhist Churches of America), undated.
Box 1 Folder 14
Is Shin Buddhism the Same as Christianity? / Rev. Philipp Karl Eidmann, undated.
Box 1 Folder 14
7 Gods of Good Fortune, undated.
Box 1 Folder 14
Confucius and Confucianism for America ([Washington, D.C.]: Center for Dao-Confucianism U.S.A), undated.
Box 1 Folder 14
Sightseeing and Exhibitions, 1963-2006.
Box 1 Folder 15
Music, undated.
Box 1 Folder 16
"Overview of Pre-Meiji Works", 1985.
Box 1 Folder 17
Finding Aid References, 2014-2015.
Box 1 Folder 18
Clippings, English Language, 1976-2010.
Box 2 Folder 1
Clippings, Japanese Buddhism, 1978-2014.
Box 2 Folder 2
Clippings, Chinese poetry, undated.
Box 2 Folder 3
Clippings, Japanese Culture, 1995-2001.
Box 2 Folder 4
Clippings, First Buddhist Chaplain, 2004.
Box 2 Folder 5
Clippings, "History of Zero", 2000.
Box 2 Folder 6
Clip Art and Decoration, undated.
Box 2 Folder 7
Study Materials, Sanskrit, undated.
Box 2 Folder 8
Study Materials, Handwritten, undated.
Box 2 Folder 9
Study Materials, Printouts and Photocopies, undated.
Box 2 Folder 10
Manuscript Poetry, undated.
Box 2 Folder 11
"Buddhist Sculpture Series", 1983.
Box 2 Folder 12
"History of Buddhist Sculpture", undated.
Box 2 Folder 13
"Life of Buddha", 1986.
Box 2 Folder 14
Library of Congress Artifacts, 1970.
Box 2 Folder 15
Book Prospectuses and Pamphlets, 1960s and 1970s?.
Box 2 Folder 16
Book Ephemera, 1982-2004.
Box 2 Folder 17
Oversize Newsletters, 1947-1979.
Drawer 107 Folder 1

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