Buddist Church of Oakland
Good Neighbors, Goood Friends for Over 100 Years

by Brian Nagata, Numata Center

Located on the block bordered by 8th and 9th Streets at Jackson, the Buddhist Church of Oakland has been a neighbor of Chinatown for over 100 years. The Bukkyo Tokufukai (Sangha) was formed by Reverend Mizuku and immigrant Japanese in February 1901. Bukkyo Seinenkai (YBA) was established September 20, 1903 and reorganized as Oakland Buddhist Church, September 1906, incorporated April 26,1911. The church has been a focal point of the Japanese American community for four generations.

The Oakland temple is the oldest Buddhist temple in the East Bay and affiliated with the Shin Buddhist , of which there are more than 100 in the United States. Shin Buddhism is largest of the Japanese Buddhist sects, but its original roots and early teachings to and later China. Affiliation with Buddhist of America (BCA) in the Traditions of Shinshu (Pureland).

The Temple Building/ Meeting Place located, in 1903 on 7th Street, then moved several times to 405 - 9th St, to 5th Street, to comer of 6th and Jackson in 1923. During WWII, the temple stored members' property and property was cared for by Cos Loustalot. (The Loustalot also had supported the church's sports program from the 1930s). On July 1, 1950, with the construction of the I-880 freeway, the Temple Building, originally located at 6th and Jackson Streets was divided in half, moved and reassembled in its current location at 825 Jackson Street Oakland 94607-4796. The current temple building is designated as a Historical Site by the City of Oakland.

Weekly Family religious services in English are held on Sunday beginning at 10:00 AM most weeks (except in August) and the public is always invited to attend. Other religious activities include funerals, weddings, memorial services and other rites of passage. The minister is Reverend Seigen H Yamaoka, former Bishop, Buddhist Churches of America (1981); President, Institute of Buddhist Studies and writer - which include -Compassion in Encounter, Teaching and Practice of Jodo Shinshu, Jodo Shinshu - Religion of Human Experience, Meditation - Gut Enlightenment. The Way of Hara and Six Aspects of Jodo Shinshu.

Temple affiliated organizations include the Dharma School, Buddhist Women's Association, a Youth Group, a Senior Citizens Group which meets every week, a church Golf Group, a Line Dance group and a Karaoke club (which meets weekly) as well publishing a monthly newsletter, Busshin.

The temple also sponsors the Japanese-language school which meets on Saturday mornings, an Ohata-School flower arranging class, as well as hosts the Oakland-Fukuoka Sister City meetings and a weekly Japanese calligraphy class. The temple is also an active member of the East Bay Youth Athletic (Baseball) League, and the Japanese American Services of the East Bay.

The two major public events of the temple are held during the summer. On Father's Day weekend, (June 19-20, 2004) the temple hosts its annual two-day Summer Nikkoland Bazaar where some of the best Japanese food, Teriyaki-BBQ chicken and steaks can be always found. Then, on the first weekend of August (August 7-8, 2004), the temple hosts its annual "Obon Festival" (Japanese Buddhist Memorial Day) with a Japanese food sale and dancing merriment. On the first Saturday evening of August (August 7, 2004), the street (Jackson) in front of the temple is blocked off and hundreds of dancers, young and old, dress in traditional Japanese yukata (light weight summer kimono-type clothing) and happi coats and dance together in unison in the street to live Japanese music.

The Buddhist Church of Oakland welcomes the community and members of the Wa Sung Community Service Club to come to any and all of its activities and programs. For further information, visit us at 825 Jackson Street or call 510-832-5988 or email us, bco825@aol.com.

For the next 100 years, let us continue to be good neighbors and good friends.