History of our Samgha

 

In November of 1924, Rev. Ryushin Okihara, resident minister of the Nichiren Buddhist Church in Seattle, conducted the first organized Nichiren Shu service in Portland, Oregon. The service was held at the office of Dr. Tanaka with 40 people in attendance. Rev. Okihara discussed organizing a church for Portland. On May 18th 1930 Rev. Okihara performed the dedication ceremony of the Nichiren Shu Kuon Ko.

 

May 18th, 1930 Dedication Ceremony


In September of 1930, the charter for a Nichiren Shu Church in Portland was approved and Rev. Okihara was appointed the chief minister. On January 24th 1931 a statue of our founder Nichiren Shonin (carved by Unkai Okumura) arrived in Portland. The official dedication service of the newly founded Church was held on February 22 with 130 people in attendance. It would be soon after that the little facility being used became too small. Rev. Okihara urged members to have a permanent Church site. A committee was formed and on June 2, 1932, the ground breaking ceremony was conducted on a lot that was located near the existing Memorial Coliseum. The building was completed in August of 1932.


Sunday School with Rev. Jitei Ishihara and Chotaro Niguma


World War II

In 1942, Japanese Americans were interned into relocation centers. Members of the Nichiren Buddhist Church placed their belongings into the Church because they were only allowed to bring what they could carry to the camps. The minister at this time was Rev. Yohaku Arakawa. The city of Portland rented the Church to use as a gym with the stipulation that the members' personal belongings would not be harmed. Many of the members of the Church were taken to Minidoka (above picture). Rev. Arakawa conducted services at Minidoka using hand written Sutra books as printed copies were not available. The internment would last from 1942 through 1946. In 1946 members returned to Portland and reestablished Church services. In 1959, the city of Portland condemed the old Church to build the Memorial Coliseum.

20th Anniversary of the Church, August 18th 1952


The ground breaking ceremony for the current Temple was held on March 22nd 1959. The building was completed in October of the same year. Many ministers have been appointed throughout the years. The current minister is Rev. Myosho Obata who became the 15th head minister of the Temple in April of 2009.


Hanamatsuri Service picture from (above) April 1950, (below) April 2000