Japanese Heritage and Buddhism
Waichi Ouye was active in organizations honoring his Japanese ancestry:
- He was one of the founding members of the Hawaii Shima Hiroshima Kenjin Kai, honoring immigrants from Hiroshima prefecture and their descendants.
- As part of his volunteer service with the Hiroshima Kenjin Kai after retirement, he helped host visiting doctors and beauty queens from Hiroshima!
- He participated in a medical survey of Japanese Americans that began in 1970 and continued until 2020. This research, conducted by investigators from Hiroshima University, measured and compared the health status of Japanese nationals from Hiroshima with the health status of emigrants (and their offspring) from Hiroshima to Hawaii or Los Angeles. Labeled the Hawaii–Los Angeles–Hiroshima Study, it constituted a long-term epidemiological study of Japanese Americans who were genetically identical to the native Japanese people, but who had experienced rapid and intense Westernization in terms of their lifestyles. The Hawaii Shima Hiroshima Kenjin Kai facilitated this endeavor and the University of Hawaii-Hilo provided both facilities and nurses to support it.
- In 1985, he served as the historian for the 100th anniversary of the Kanyaku Imin (Japanese Contract Labor) for the Big Island Honpa Laymen's Association. (Kanyaku Imin was a government contract immigration program that started the mass immigration of Japanese to Hawai`i in 1885.)
- In 1995, officials of Hiroshima Prefecture honored Waichi and other Big Island residents age 80 years and older. Waichi was presented with an award for his community service. In 2000, he was again awarded for his community service and dedication to the Kenjin Kai.
Waichi Ouye attended the Hakalau Jodo Mission's Japanese language school.
Hakalau Jodo Mission Japanese Language School. Waichi Ouye is in the second row, second person from the left. Rev. Itakura (1921-1929) is in the first row, the only male. The new language school was built in 1927, perpendicular to the building here. This picture is probably from the 1926-1929 period when Waichi was 12 to 15 years old.
Waichi was active in both the Honomu Hongwanji and the Hakalau Jodo Mission and served on the board of directors of each at various times. The board roles he gravitated to were secretary and treasurer—perfect roles for the historian! He served as president of the Honomu Hongwanji 1984-1985. In retirement, he became more active with the Hiroshima Kenjinkai and the Hawaii Island Japanese Community Association.