"The farmers helped build the temple to what it is today," said Richard Endo, four-time president of the 500-member temple. "We should be grateful to our pioneers that have made the temple what it is today. We are very fortunate."
Honoring the past of the temple at 575 North Shoreline Boulevard as it looks to grow in the future was the theme of the event over the weekend, Endo said.
The temple was first imagined when local Japanese-Americans returned from World War II internment camps in 1945 and found that the temple's former location in the Mockbee building at Dana and View streets — near where a large Japanese business community had also been — was no longer available. Over $38,000 was raised and the temple was complete in 1957. The temple became independent several years later, Endo said.
Endo said the membership of the temple is mostly that of professionals now, doctors and engineers instead of farm workers. But the Buddhist teachings remain the same, pointing to "greed, anger and ignorance" as the root causes of problems such as war and starvation. Sunday services elaborate on the teaching in a sermon called a "dharma talk" while kids are sent to a "dharma school."
The temple hosts an annual Obon festival, a two-day event that draws thousands every year to the temple for a celebration and to pay their respects to "those who have passed on," Endo said.
Will the temple be around another 50 years?
"I hope so," Endo said. "I hope I can be here for the 75th anniversary, but I'm 74 so I won't press my luck."