By BHIT YOON, Rafu Contributor
In the early hours of Feb. 24, Alyne Tsuyuki was awoken by the sounds of banging pipes, yelling, and the glow of flames — Konko Church of Los Angeles was burning.
The fire, believed to have originated from the publicly accessible men’s restroom, burned down most of the free-standing structure, and charred the outer wall of one of the church buildings. In addition, the fire destroyed mochitsuki equipment used for the annual New Year’s mochi-pounding.
Alyne Tsuyuki, daughter of Rev. Alfred Tsuyuki, recounted the events, noting that a few local homeless citizens aided in dousing the flames with the church hose. “I’m just glad the fire didn’t escalate any further to the main master bedroom or anywhere else on the residential part of the property,” she said.
With the slew of recent attacks against the AAPI community across the United States, along with the recent vandalism of Japanese community centers, Tsuyuki had this to say: “We don’t know who did it because we’ve never thought of investing in security cameras. Now we really need to consider cameras and a remote gate on our property to keep trespassers away. All this is happening due to the pandemic and the high numbers of homeless in the city. They use the church as a sanctuary and we need to keep the church safe for the residents, especially the head minister, Tsuyuki-sensei, my dad.”
Through his upbringing, Rev. Tsuyuki understands that things happen and he prefers to approach life calmly. He said that the Konko Church represents 4,000 years of Japanese universal culture and philosophical tradition. “It is not a religion, but a way of life” and he dedicates himself to teaching others. Rev. Tsuyuki appreciates the volunteers who have come out to support the church over the past six weeks.
Proceeds from a GoFundMe campaign that ended on April 4 was enough to start repairs but Konko Church is in need of additional support to cover the rest of the expenses. Donations can be made on The Rafu Shimpo eCommerce site at www.rafumarket.com/helpkonko or checks to “Konko Church of Los Angeles” can be mailed to The Rafu Shimpo “Help Konko,” 701 E. Third St. #130, Los Angeles, CA 90013.