History of the San Mateo Buddhist Temple

From early 1900 to 1910, the religious needs of the Buddhists in the San Mateo area were filled by dedicated leaders in the community. With the growth of the Japanese group in San Mateo, Belmont, and San Carlos areas, a decision was made to establish a branch of the San Francisco Buddhist Church in San Mateo. On February 20, 1910, an inaugural ceremony was held. This Temple thereafter served the Buddhist Sangha of the San Mateo area by conducting services at various local residences and in rented halls.

In June 1939, it was decided to purchase land and to launch construction of a meeting place. The present land was purchased in 1940 and construction plans were started. However, with the outbreak of the war in 1941, all plans had to be suspended.

In the fall of 1945, as families returned to the San Mateo area from the relocation camps, the dedicated leaders organized the holding of services in a rented hall. Ministers from San Francisco were invited to conduct the services.

The San Mateo Buddhist Temple officially became an independent Temple on November 7, 1951. On February 15, 1952, the construction of the present social hall was completed and provided the first permanent home for the San Mateo Buddhist Temple.

Due to the increase in membership and activities, a program was started to raise funds for construction of a chapel, Sunday school classrooms, and a new kitchen. Construction of these facilities was completed in July 1958.

On February 2, 1959, the members were honored by the visit of Abbot Kosho Otani and Lady Otani of the Hongwanji Temple at which time many members participated in the affirmation ceremony.

On October 16, 1960, the members observed the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Temple. Many members, ministers, and friends joined in the daylong celebration of this most joyous occasion.

The 60th Anniversary of the Temple was celebrated on October 21, 1969, with a day of activities commemorating this event.

October, 1980, marked the 70th Anniversary of the Temple. In commemoration, three major projects were completed. The first was the remodeling of the altar area; second, the construction of a Buddhist Education Wing; and third, the construction of a new parking lot.

The Temple has experienced continued growth and has developed the feeling of true fellowship in the Nembutsu. The Temple is not just a social organization but an institution to help its members realize life’s meaning in the Light of Amida’s Compassion.