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Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 June, 2003, 15:37 GMT 16:37 UK
Buddhist leader in peace visit
Koken Mon-nyo Otani Hosshu
Mr Hosshu leads 15 million followers in Japan
The leader of Japan's biggest Buddhist sect is the latest world religious leader to be presented with a peace bracelet by a Welsh secondary school.

Koken Mon-nyo Otani Hosshu is the head of Jodo Shinshu Buddhism (Pure Land Buddhism) and is also a cousin of Japan's Emperor.

His is the biggest Buddhist sect in Japan with 15 million followers.

And during a two-day visit to Lampeter in mid Wales to strengthen links with the university's theology department he was presented with a peace mala - or bracelet - created by pupils of Coedcae School, Llanelli.

This is like the Archbishop of Canterbury or the Pope visiting us
David Davies, Theology Professor

The peace mala has won a Millennium Award and received commendations from The Prince of Wales, the Dalai Lama and the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The idea came from Pam Evans of Coedcae school, after she noticed a rise in religious intolerance in the wake of the 11 September terrorist attack on New York.

Tremendous honour

"I had the idea to create the peace mala after a particularly stressful day at school.

"I had noticed the rise in racism and Islam phobia even in lessons so I set about working on it in the classroom."

The peace mala was launched at a ceremony at Cardiff's Temple of Peace by the Archbishop of Canterbury last November,.

"It was a great occasion and supported by faith leaders of 14 different paths during that ceremony," said Mrs Evans.

Pam Evans
Pam Evans of Coedcae School had the idea for the peace bracelet

Since then the Dalai Lama has received a peace mala and endorsed it.

"It is now a tremendous honour for us to present this peace mala to His Eminence," said Mrs Evans.

According to Professor David Davies of Lampeter University's Theology and Religious Studies department Mr Hosshu's visit is a great honour for the University.

"This is like the Archbishop of Canterbury or the Pope visiting us," said Prof Davies.

"When you consider that little more than 50 years ago we were at war with Japan it is very important for us to understand their religion and for us to understand their religion."

Mr Hosshu visited Lampeter because his deputy has visited and taught at the town's university on several occasion since 1989.

On Tuesday he visited the Cistercian Abbey at Strata Florida and Llanddewi Brefi, where St David gave one of his most memorable orations.

The Pure Land sect was founded by the Supreme Primate's forefather, St Shinan Shonin in the 12th century and the church became the dominant religion in Japan by the 15th century.

Pure Land Buddhism teaches salvation in this life and the next.

Mr Hosshu is the 26th Supreme Primate and a member of one of the most senior families of the Japanese aristocracy.

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