For Buddhists, San Francisco Offers Many Places to Worship

January 29, 2010

Author: Suli Yi

Source: VOA News

Situated on the West Coast of the United States, the city of San Francisco has long been home to many generations of Asians who immigrated to the United States.  In a lot of cases, they are Buddhists, but since they are from a variety of cultures and countries, the way they practice Buddhism also varies. 

At an intersection in San Francisco, not far from the city's Japantown, two buildings provide an interesting contrast. One is a Catholic church designed in a Japanese style to attract Japanese-American worshippers.  Across the road sits a Western-style building that appears inside and out much like a church but is actually a Buddhist temple. Ron Kobata, the Japanese-American resident minister, wears a robe much like a Christian minister would, but he does not pray to God.  He prays to Buddha.

"The acculturation took place to adopt some of the customs of, perhaps you can say, the Judeo-Christian tradition," said Kobata.  "For example, the regular church services on Sundays, and introducing pews into the temple."

Kobata is a monk from the school of Shin Buddhism, which originated in Japan some 800 years ago. It arrived in San Francisco a little more than 100 years ago, in 1898, under the title Buddhist Churches of America, a name chosen so the monks could blend in more easily in a predominantly Christian country.