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Seattle Betsuin Buddhist Temple (#38)

Also known as: Seattle Buddhist Church

While the history of the Seattle Betsuin Buddhist Temple dates back to 1901, the present temple was dedicated in 1941, a mere two months before the start of World War II. Temple reverends were among the Japanese and Japanese American community leaders who were arrested and incarcerated following the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The temple was closed and leased to the US Maritime Commission until 1946.

Despite these challenges, activities have been rich and full at the Seattle Betsuin Buddhist Temple. With its Day Nursery Program and Boy Scout Troop started in 1948 and its annual hosting of the Seattle Bon Odori, it reaches far into the life of community members near and wide.


Architect Kichio Arai designed the building, including his signature upturned projecting eaves and front latticework, integrating traditional Japanese design with American brickwork. See the Nichiren Buddhist Church (waypoint #32) for another example of his work.

Alabastro Photography. Courtesy of Wing Luke Museum.

An auditorium to the right of the main entrance was dedicated in October 1945.

Alabastro Photography. Courtesy of Wing Luke Museum.

The Seattle Bon Odori is an annual Seafair sanctioned community event hosted by the Seattle Betsuin Buddhist Temple.

Wing Luke Museum Collection.

Artist Emily Efird pictures just some of the visual richness found inside of the Temple.

By artist Emily Efird. YouthCAN, Wing Luke Museum.


An invitation for all to join Seattle’s Bon Odori celebration.

2019 Seattle Bon Odori: July 20-21,2019. Released by Seattle Bon Odori.