History of West Los Angeles Buddhist Temple

Many of the Japanese who settled in and around the West Los Angeles area were avowed and dedicated Jodo Shinshu Buddhists. Young married couples starting families, who held strong ties to their religious heritage, wanted their children to learn the Buddha Dharma within the matrix of a strong Sangha.

In 1926, as one of the branches of Los Angeles Hompa Hongwanji Buddhist Temple, howakai (Sangha meetings) were held in individuals’ homes. It was known as the Sawtelle Howakai.

In 1928, the Dharma School (then called Sunday School) was formed and a sincere effort towards a concrete Buddhist Education Program was initiated. Classes were first held in a commercial store on Sawtelle Boulevard and later transferred to the Japanese School on Corinth Avenue.

The present site of the Temple was purchased in 1930. The outbreak of World War II suspended the activities of the Howakai. Temple activities resumed in 1946.

In 1950, the Temple officially became independent from Los Angeles Hompa Hongwanji Buddhist Temple and was designated as the “West Los Angeles Buddhist Temple.”

In 1955, the new Temple structure was completed and in 1957 a new shrine was purchased and dedicated.

In 1960, the Dharma School classrooms and meeting rooms were constructed on the occasion of the 700th Anniversary Memorial of Shinran Shonin.

In commemoration of the 15th Anniversary since the inception of religious activities as an independent religious entity, the construction of a student dormitory, business offices, and minister’s residence was begun in 1965 and completed in 1966.

In 1970, four lots on Purdue Avenue to the west of the Temple were acquired.

In 1992, construction of the new Social Hall began and was completed in 1993. In 1993, renovation of the hondo and naijin began and was completed in June, 1994.

Temple structure damage, resulting from the January 17, 1994 Northridge earthquake, was repaired by June, 1994.