During World War II, Japanese citizens living on the West Coast of the United States were uprooted by the U.S. government and sent to live in internment camps, losing homes and livelihoods as a result. Upon discharge from the camps, they resettled in cities around the country to begin rebuilding their lives.
Japanese-American Buddhists who settled in Cleveland strongly desired to gather and practice Buddhism together. In 1945, they formed the Cleveland Young Buddhist Association.
The temple, then known as the Cleveland Buddhist Church, was founded by Harvey Iwata, Tokuo Yamamoto, and Mashashi Tazumi.
Cleveland Buddhist Temple is affiliated with the Buddhist Churches of America, a Jodo Shinshu or “Pure Land” organization.
The first service was held on 7 Jan. 1945 in the Unitarian Society Church, conducted by Rev. Fusa Tokumoto. Subsequent services were held in members' homes until 1955, when the first edifice was dedicated on E. 81st St.
A Japanese-language school was started in 1960. During the Hough Riots of 1966, the church was firebombed and the congregation resumed having services in their homes.
Members formulated a plan to build a new temple. In May 1970 the new Buddhist Temple was completed on E. 214th St. and Euclid Ave.
Our former location in Euclid
In Euclid the congregation greatly expanded its membership base to include people of all backgrounds, while retaining its Japanese heritage.
Historical Marker formerly in Euclid
The Euclid location was sold in 2018 and the community presently meets in space rented from the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Cleveland, the same group which originally hosted the temple in 1945.
Our present location in Shaker Heights
Today, the Cleveland Buddhist Temple is a community committed to sharing wisdom and compassion through the teachings of the Buddha.
We look forward to a vibrant future. Join us for a dharma talk … a Sunday Shin service … or a class, or a special event. All are welcome.