Betsuin Buddhist Temple

1427 S Main Street

Seattle Betsuin Buddhist Temple, October 15, 2020, HistoryLink photo by David Koch
Stairs to Wisteria Park from Seattle Betsuin Buddhist Temple, October 15, 2020, HistoryLink photo by David Koch
Shinran Shonin statue, Wisteria Park, Seattle, April 27, 2007, Photo by Joe Mabel (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Seattle Betsuin Buddhist Temple bell, Wisteria Park, April 27, 2007, Photo by Joe Mabel (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Pews and alter, Seattle Betsuin Buddhist Temple, April 27, 2007, Photo by Joe Mabel (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Northwest Taiko performance, Bon Odori Festival, Seattle Betsuin Buddhist Temple, July 22, 2007, Photo by Joe Mabel (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Bon Odori, Seattle Betsuin Buddhist Temple, 1960s, Courtesy Dencho (ddr-densho-38-18)
Muneage ceremony, Seattle Betsuin Buddhist Temple, March 1941, Courtesy Dencho (ddr-densho-38-6)

1427 S Main Street

The Seattle Buddhist Church or Seattle Betsuin services began in 1901 but its first church building was constructed in 1908 at 1020 Main Street. That church, along with other Chinese and Japanese businesses, was torn down in 1939 as part of the area redevelopment to construct the 43-acre Yesler Terrace public housing project. The site of the old Temple building is currently vacant as the city goes through a second redevelopment of the area to residential and office high-rise buildings.

While the first temple building was designed by architects Charles W. Saunders and George Willis Lawton, the second temple was designed by Kichio Arai and completed in October 1941. During World War II and the incarceration years, the church was occupied by the U.S. Maritime Commission office until 1945, when it was returned to the community as the Buddhist Temple and has remained in this use since its restoration in 1946. The Temple continues to be a focal point for the community with grounds that are the site of the annual Bon Odori festival and recreational and artistic classes that are offered in the auditorium. Community donations of historic documents, photographs, and ephemera that reflect the history of Japanese American Seattle are held in the Temple Archives.

Walk west on S Main Street to 14th Avenue and turn left. Continue south to the intersection of 14th Avenue S, Rainier Avenue S, and S Jackson Street. Cross 14th Avenue and Rainier Avenue to the corner of Rainier and Jackson.

Download the App

Visit HistoryLink.Tours in your mobile browser to download our web app!

HistoryLink Tours App

To add this web app to your device, tap the share icon and select Add to Home Screen.

HistoryLink Tours App

To add this web app to your device, tap the overflow button (three vertical dots) and select Add to Home Screen.