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History of OBT

On November 29, 1903, the Buddhist Church in Portland was officially founded with Reverend Shozui Wakabayashi as the leader. The group of Japanese immigrants first met in two rented rooms on Fourth Avenue, later moving to a storefront on First Avenue.


In 1910 a three-story brick building was built at 86 NW 10th Avenue. This building is still standing today (the address now is 312 NW 10th Ave (at Everett), although it is no longer used as a religious facility.

In those years the temple was not only a place of worship, but also a social and cultural center for the Japanese and Japanese-American community.

With the outbreak of World War II, the Japanese were forcibly removed inland into camps. During those internment years the church was used as a storehouse for members' possessions. Most of the members were incarcerated in Minidoka in southern Idaho. Some were in Heart Mountain in Wyoming. Services were held in camps. Reverend Tansai Terakawa, one of the first English speaking ministers, was active in Minidoka, but tragically passed away there.

After the war, the members returned and rebuilt their lives. In 1966 the present building was dedicated. In November 2003, the temple celebrated its centennial. Today it serves a diverse membership and continues as a center for nurturing the teachings of the Buddha.

Reverend Yuki Sugahara


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