Clovis, CA 93638
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The Fresno Betsuin Buddhist temple situated at 1340 Kern Street in downtown Fresno, belongs to the Jodo Shinshu (Pure Land) denomination of Buddhism. Our founder is Shinran Shonin (1173-1262), a Japanese priest who lived during the medieval Kamakura period of Japan. The title 'Shonin' is give to honor a Japanese priest. His statue stands in the front garden of the temple.
The history of the Fresno Betsuin Buddhist Temple begins with the first 'Howakai', or religious gathering, held in mid-November of 1899. The Rev. Kakuryo Nishijima of the San Francisco Bukkyo Seinenkai conducted the service. Later, through the efforts of Dr. Katsugoro Haida of San Francisco, a Bukkyo Seinenkai was established in Fresno as a branch of the San Francisco Young Men's Buddhist Association. In January of 1900 it was officially recognized by the San Francisco headquarters and later went on to become the Fresno Hompa Hongwanji, the official title of the Fresno Betsuin Buddhist Temple.
Members gathered for their meetings at 825 'F' Street. The average age of the members then was only twenty-four years old. In January of 1901 the first resident minister, the Rev. Fukyo Asaeda, was assigned from the mother temple Hompa Hongwanji of Kyoto, Japan, ant the first service was held on January 27, 1901. Not long afterwards a three-story temple building was completed on April 8, 1902, it was dedicated. Fifteen years later in January of 1917 the name was changed and the Fresno Buddhist Church was born. Unfortunately, in May of 1919, a fire destroyed the wooden building, leaving nothing but the adjacent dormitory standing. The members were disheartened but not defeated, soon gathered enough funds to replace the wooden structure with a concrete building. This building was dedicated in November of 1920. It is the same structure that is currently standing at the 1340 Kern Street site. On November 4, 1936, the Fresno Buddhist Church was elevated to the status of 'Betsuin' by the mother temple Hompa Hongwanji of Kyoto Japan. A 'Betsuin' temple indicates direct branch status with the tmother temple and is a great honor. This new status confers the title of 'Rimban' to the head minister, who is said to serve as the representative of the 'Abbot', or Monshu who is the religious head of the the denomination. The Rev. Enryo Shigefuji was the first minister to be granted the title of Rimban of Fresno Buddhist Temple. Currently, Rev. Nobuo Miyaji is the Rimban. He is assisted by Rev. Hidetaka Yoshii. The membership consists of over 1,400 people stretching around the San Joaquin Valley.
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