Originally, the Mountain View Buddhist Temple serviced the area within and around the communities of Los Altos, Mountain View, and Sunnyvale. In the pre-World War II days, this was known as the “Mountain View Japanese Association” area.
In 1902, many Buddhists of this area joined the San Jose Young Men’s Buddhist Association, which was formed as a branch of the San Francisco YMBA. Most members could only attend the major Buddhist services because of difficulties in traveling in those early years. For this reason, monthly Howakai meetings and services were held in the homes of local members under the guidance of ministers from the San Jose Buddhist Church.
Most of the members were engaged in truck farming and/or fruit growing in the 1920’s and 1930’s. About 100 Japanese families resided in the area, but most were here on a supposedly temporary basis with thoughts of eventually returning to Japan.
The Japanese community was large enough to support the following Japanese business establishments: one photo studio, three grocery stores, one boarding house, two barber shops, one pool hall, one restaurant, one confectionary store, one manju shop, one fish store, one tofu shop, one carpentry contractor, and one gambling house. These establishments and a Japanese language school were all located within the vicinity of Villa and View Streets in Mountain View. As the years passed and as they developed “roots” in the area, the Issei’s dreams of “returning to the homeland in glory” began to fade.
In 1932, Takajiro Imai, Tomokichi Furuichi, Keiichiro Matsushima, Shuichi Hori, Gonichi Oyamada, Wasaku Shinta, Shinsuke Nakano, Sahichi Inouye, and Katsuki Nakagawa founded the Sunday School. Ministers of the San Jose Buddhist Church conducted weekly services on the second floor of the Oyamada Confectionary Store. In 1934, Katsuki Nakagawa and Keiichi Matsushima were instrumental in leasing the Mockbee building on the corner of Dana and View Streets. Tomokichi Furuichi of Los Altos donated a Buddhist shrine. Thus, the first regular place of worship was established. With the contribution of the Buddhist women in purchasing cooking and dining utensils, the place of worship also became a social center for the Buddhist community.
The mass evacuation of Japanese and their children during World War II disrupted all activities in the local Buddhist community. After the return of the evacuees in 1945, they found that the Mockbee building was no longer available. Therefore, Sunday School, YBA, Howakai, and Fujinkai activities were resumed in the nearby former Japanese language school.
Foreseeing a rapid increase of Sunday School students in the very near future, a movement was started in May, 1945, to construct a permanent place of worship. Under the leadership of Wasaburo Tachibana, Tomizo Furuichi, Ichiro Asada, and Fred Yonemoto, a fundraising campaign was initiated under the name, “Mountain View Buddhist Association” to provide a more effective means and wider scope for fundraising. Wasaburo Tachibana was elected as the first president of the newly recognized religious corporation in the State of California. The membership set $25,000 as the financial goal to be raised in three years. Perhaps the need of a temple was very acutely felt by the members, for over $38,000 in pledges and cash was realized shortly thereafter. A one and a half acre piece of land was purchased on Stierlin Road in 1954. Seiichi Kami, an architect from Berkeley, was retained to design the combination temple and social hall. The building was completed in 1957 at a cost of $56,500. Again, the butsudan donated by Tomokichi Furuichi in 1934 served as the center of worship. On April 28, 1957, the new temple-hall dedication service was held with Bishop Enryo Shigefuji of the BCA and Rev. Kenryo Kumata of the San Jose Buddhist Church officiating.
The video below (no audio) recounts in images and text the history of our Sangha.