SENSHIN BUDDHIST TEMPLE
1311 W. 37th Street
Los Angeles, Calif. 90007
Tel: (323) 731-4617
Fax: (323) 731-1318
SENSHIN BUDDHIST TEMPLE HISTORY
Established in 1951 as an independent temple, the Senshin Buddhist
Temple belongs to the Jodoshinshu Sect, Hongwanjiha School, of Japanese
Mahayana Buddhism and is popularly referred to as Nishihongwanji.
is an affiliate of the Buddhist Churches of America that is made up of
some 60 temples in the continental United States with headquarters in
San Francisco. An overseas branch of Jodoshinshu Hongwanjiha whose
parent temple is in
Kyoto, Japan, the Buddhist Churches of America (BCA) is one of six
Sanghas, the others being Hawaii, Brazil, Mexico, Canada, and Europe.
Senshin Temple began as Senshin Gakuin, a Japanese language school and
Sunday School conducted by Rev. and Mrs. Junin Ono from the Los Angeles
Honpahongwanji Buddhist Temple (which became the Los Angeles Hompa
Betsuin in 1931). He was succeeded by Rev. Hirofumi Kuwahara in 1932,
Bumpo Kuwatsuki in 1938, and Rev. Jotetsu Ono just prior to the U.S.
World War II.
With the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the U.S. entry into the war, all
Japanese and Japanese~Americans on the west coast were interned in
prison camps. The new educational complex and altar that was built in
1938 at 1336 W. 36th P1. was boarded up for the duration of the war.
Fortunately the new building was completely paid for and placed under
the care of Rev. Julius Goldwater, the first Caucasian minister of
Jodoshinshu who was assigned
to the Los Angeles Betsuin. Rev. Goldwater cared for the belongings of
the internees that were stored at the Betsuin while keeping in touch
the internees in the various camps, bringing them what he could.
With the end of the war on August 11, 1945, the Japanese began to
return from the camps. Rev. Goldwater requested permission to convert
the Gakuin into a hostel for returning families until they could find
accommodations elsewhere. The hostel was run by Rev. Goldwater, Rev.
& Mrs. Kanmo
Imamura, and Rev. Arthur Takemoto (then a student). From 1945 to 1947,
the hostel provided temporary housing for many families as they came
of the camps and until they could find temporary housing of their own.
Kyoshiro Tokunaga, then a student from Japan began to teach Japanese
at Senshin and Rev. Kuwatsuki from the Los Angeles Betsuin began
programs in 1947. It was during these years that the Gakuin flourished
the center of the Japanese~American community known as "Seinan" or
On May 1, 1951, the Senshin Gakuin became the Senshin Buddhist Church,
an independent church with Rev. Bumpo Kuwatsuki of the Betsuin being
asked to become the founding minister, assisted by Rev. Koyo Tamanaha.
Rev Bumpo Kuwatsuki
Rev Koyo Tamanaha
Rev Takujo Suginari
Head Minister 1951-1958
1952 - 1954
1954 - 1955
Rev Taitetsu Unno
Rev Gibun Kimura
Rev Enryo Unno
1957 - 1962
Minsiter 1958 - 1960 Head Minister
1960 - 1970
Rev Tetsuo Unno
Rev Hoshin Fujikado
1962 - 1968
1970 - 1978
1968 - 1978
1978 - 1988
Head Minister 1978 -
In 1985, Senshin Buddhist Church officially changed its name to the
more appropriate Senshin Buddhist Temple.
SENSHIN TEMPLE SCHEDULES
Senshin Temple Family Services are held every Sunday from
9:30am. This is a Family Service in the Hondo (main hall), after which
the Sangha divides into the following groups:
English-speaking adults group in the Classroom Bldg.
Dharma School children in the Classroom Bldg.
Twice monthly Japanese-speaking group in the Hondo.
Monthly Memorial Service (Shotsuki Hoyo), in memory of those who
have died in that month is usually observed on the first Sunday of each
month. On request, the listing of the name of the deceased and the
observing the memorial appear in the Prajna newsletter.
Buddhist Holidays: Buddhist holidays are according to the
Japanese Jodoshinshu tradition, set according to the western calendar.
Shusho-e: New Years
Day Gathering - 1/1
Shinran Shonin Memorial - 1/16
Historical Buddha's Death - 2/15
Spring Equinox Gathering- 3/21
Hanamatsuri: Historical Buddha's Birthday -4/8
Shinran Shonin's Birthday - 5/21
Gathering of Joy (Obon) - 7/15
Autumn Equinox Gathering -9/23
Bodhi Day, Shakyamuni Buddha's Enlightenment - 12/ 8
Holidays are generally observed on the Sunday closest to the above
Study Classes: Study Classes in English and Japanese are
conducted on regular and periodic basis. Please refer to temple
Howakai: (Dharma Discussion Sessions) are held periodically in English
and Japanese in members' homes.
Seminars: Religious seminars are presently held twice a year in March
and September during the Spring and Fall Higan observances.
Retreats: Retreats are held at retreat sites out of town periodically
from three-day sessions to one week sessions.
Kekkonshiki (weddings), Soshiki (funerals), and Hoji (private family
memorial services) can be arranged by phoning the temple.
A Short History of Jodoshinshu
Jodoshinshu belongs to the Mahayana or North and East-Asian tradition
of Buddhism. The other great tradition is the Theravada or South and
Southeast Asian tradition. Within the Mahayana tradition, Jodoshinshu
may be distinguished from all the other schools by its rejection of all
specific practices which are thought to lead to Bodhi (awakening),
labeling them as ego-centered
Jodoshinshu means the “True Essence of the Pure Land Teaching” as well
as the “Sect of the True Pure Land Teaching”. Its founder is Shinran
Shonin (1173-1263 AD) who was ordained in Kyoto as a Tendai monk at the
nine. For the next twenty years, he lived the life of a monk on Mt.
the great Tendai monastic complex to the north-east of the city of
There he spent the next twenty years in sincere study and meditation
despaired of not getting any closer to Bodhi.
Discouraged by his non-progress on the Buddhist path, and by the
corruption of the monastic communities, he left Mt. Hiei and descended
to the city
of Kyoto. It was here that he met the monk Honen and was led to the
As the Nembutsu teaching spread, it was condemned by the established
religious authorities who succeeded in having Honen and many of his
including Shinran, defrocked and sent into exile. During his period of
exile, Shinran was to preach among the common people in the remote
In his later years, he returned to Kyoto to study and write while
with his many followers in the provinces. Shinran died in Kyoto in
at the age of eighty.
Since his death, the Jodoshinshu Sect that developed around his
teachings divided into ten schools, the two largest of which are headed
descendants of Shinran. These two are the Jodoshinshu Hongwanjiha
or Nishihongwanji, and the Shinshu Ohtani-ha or Higashi Hongwanji.
In Buddhism, how we see ourselves and the world is said to be warped
by an instinctive self-centeredness, a self-centeredness which clouds
vision of things and misdirects our understanding of them. Shinjin
in Jodoshinshu is not to see clearly but rather to see this situation
clearly. Further, this awakening is not arrived at through vigorous
self-discipline and meditative austerities. Mustering the forces of a
self-centered being cannot lead to non-self-centeredness. In other
words, self-power leads
to increased self-centeredness. Against this, is the “other” power of
reality and truth which is ignored so long as the self reigns supreme.
This Other Power surrounds and sustains us in spite of our ignorance of
it. One becomes aware of Other Power as one becomes aware of Self-Power
and can thereby
let go of it.
This Truth-Reality called Other Power is ineffable and beyond
description. It is beyond shape and form and beyond categories of time
and space - and yet, it is expressed in human terms by an
anthropomorphic image called
Amida Buddha, or the more abstract formulation of “Namoamidabutsu” in
characters. This is the Nembutsu which literally means “I take refuge
the Buddha Amida”. It is not a mantra, but the name of the working of
The Truth-Reality called Amida Buddha then, is the central object of
veneration in Jodoshinshu temples. This definition of Buddha is not to
be confused with the other definition of Buddha as a human being who
or experiences this Truth-Reality. Shakyamuni Buddha is thus a human
who realized or experienced the Truth-Reality called Amida Buddha.
The Pure Land (Jodo) is the land, state, condition in which Truth
resides. It is thus the land in the past and in the future, as well as
in the here and now - that is infinite in time and space. It is again
expressed in spatial terms as located in the West, although
indicates no place but a direction. In Buddhist imagery, the
west, the direction of the setting sun, is connected to the color red
the condition of meditation. The Pure Land is more often referred to in
Japanese as “Gokuraku” or the condition of being “extremely at ease”, a
basic characteristic of Bodhi.
Jodoshinshu also means “the true meaning of the Pure Land teaching”,
in which case it refers to Shinran Shonin's interpretation of the Pure
Land tradition of Buddhism, since Shinran himself had no thought of
establishing a separate sect of Buddhism.
Dharmachakra - (Dharma/wheel) - One of the
many symbols of Buddhism,
the wheel of the teachings has eight spokes
representing the Eightfold
Noble Path as set down by the Buddha Shakyamuni.
since W.W. II, The Dharmachakra has replaced the more traditional
Swastika as the symbol of Buddhism
Kujo Sagarifuji - The pendant wisteria crest
is the official crest of
the Jodoshinshu Hongwanjiha or Nishihongwanji.
It was offered to the
Hongwanji by the Kujo family, a great patron of the Hongwanjiha.