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Leap of Faith: How Enmanji Temple Was Saved (film)

Documentary short film by Lina Hoshino about a group of white Christian teenagers who guard a California Buddhist temple during World War II in an effort to deter vandalism.

Hoshino tells the story in her own first person voice, noting her move from San Francisco north to Sonoma County. In Sonoma, she comes across the story of the Enmanji Temple in Sebastopol. Its historic building was built for the 1933–34 Chicago World's Fair and subsequently moved to Sebastopol where it served as a community center prior to the war. With the forced removal and incarceration of the Japanese American community, the temple became a target of arsonists and vandals and suffered some damage. In reaction, a group of white churchgoers organize to stand guard at the temple and no further attacks take place. Most Japanese Americans from Sonoma County returned after camp and resumed their lives. Hoshino interviews one of the teenagers who was part of the organized efforts and uses old footage of another (since passed) talking about her actions. The film ends with footage of a contemporary mochitsuki at the temple and how Hoshino took inspiration from the story as she began her new life in Sonoma.

Leap of Faith was funded by a grant from the California Council for the Humanities and was also supported by the Sonoma County JACL and Enmanji Buddhist Temple. It was shown on local public television in May 2010.

Filmmaker Hoshino made a prior film that referenced the Japanese American incarceration in the context of 9/11, Caught in Between: What to Call Home in Times of War (2004).

Authored by Brian Niiya , Densho

Might also like Relocation, Arkansas: Aftermath of Incarceration (2016); Moving Walls: American Nightmare to American Dream (2017); Gila River and Mama: The Ruth Mix Story (2011)

Media Details
Release Date 2010
Runtime 18 minutes
Director Lina Hoshino
Writer Lina Hoshino
Narrator Lina Hoshino
Starring Barbara Bertoli (interviewee), Paula Berndt (interviewee), Marie Sugiyama (interviewee), George Hamamoto (interviewee), Ray Yamasaki (interviewee), Sara Gerboth (interviewee, archival video)
Cinematography Lina Hoshino
Editing Lina Hoshino