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First Buddhist Temples Built - Timeline Event

Time Period

1853 - 1889

Description

Buddhism in America began emerging in earnest with Asian immigrants during the 19th century -- courtesy of Japanese laborers who went to Hawaii to work in the sugarcane fields and Chinese workers who came to California during the gold rush.

The first Buddhist temple in America was built in 1853 in San Francisco by a Chinese Buddhist fraternal group, Sze Yap Company, followed by a second temple a year later built by another Chinese fraternal group.

In Hawaii, after repeated requests from Japanese Buddhists who had gone there to work, a priest from the Hongwanji branch of Jodo Shinshu, or Shin Buddhism, arrived in Honolulu on March 2, 1889. He held the first service there the next day. Then he went to Hilo, where he established Hawaii’s first Buddhist temple in April 1889.

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Photographs

Sze-Yap Temple, San Francisco, 1857- from The Children's Missionary Newspaper, Jan 1857, via CINARC
Sze-Yap Temple, San Francisco, 1857- from The Children's Missionary Newspaper, Jan 1857, via CINARC

Japanese Buddhist temple in Hilo, Hawaii- Hathi Trust- from The Spirit of Missions, vol 71 (1906)
Japanese Buddhist temple in Hilo, Hawaii- Hathi Trust- from The Spirit of Missions, vol 71 (1906)

Book/Journal Source(s)

Tweed, Thomas A. and Stephen Prothero (Eds.), 1999. Asian Religions in America New York: Oxford University Press.
Melton, J. Gordon, 2009. Melton's Encyclopedia of American Religions, Eighth Edition Farmington Hills, MI: Gale.

Web Source(s)

https://hawaiibetsuin.org/temple-history/
Honpa Hongwanji Hawaii Betsuin website
http://www.purifymind.com/BuddhismAmerica.htm
"Buddhism in America"

Web Page Contributor

Sandi Dolbee
Affliated with: Former Religion and Ethics Editor, The San Diego Union-Tribune

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