A Home for Japanese-American Buddhists in a WWII “Free Zone”

Via Reverend Danny Fisher
on Jul 11, 2009
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Over at the Tricycle Editors’ Blog, Aaron Lackowski points us to an article in this past Sunday’s Oregonian about a Shin Buddhist temple in Ontario, OR, that “was built in 1946 by a community of Japanese Americans driven from the Pacific coast to this inland town as a result of FDR’s draconian WWII anti-Japanese legislation.” Aaron adds:

    Ontario was not an internment camp but rather one of 18 towns across the U.S. dubbed “free zones,” where Japanese Americans were “free” to move.

As Aaron intimates, all of this is important American Buddhist history. If you want to learn more, I’d recommend the Tricyle article that Aaron linked to, as well as the work of UC-Berkeley’s Duncan Ryukan Williams. Dr. Williams has two forthcoming works on this subject based on a rather incredible amount of research: the manuscript Camp Dharma: Japanese-American Buddhism and the World War Two Incarceration Experience and the edited volume Issei Buddhism in the Americas: The Pioneers of the Japanese-American Buddhist Diaspora. For now, you can read his article “Complex Loyalties: Issei Buddhist Ministers during the Wartime Incarceration” for free online at the Pacific World journal’s official website.

[Image via The Buddhist Channel.]


About Reverend Danny Fisher

Rev. Danny Fisher, M.Div., D.B.S. (Cand.), is a professor and Coordinator of the Buddhist Chaplaincy Program at University of the West in Rosemead, CA. He was ordained as a lay Buddhist minister by the Buddhist Sangha Council of Southern California in 2008. In addition, he is certified as a mindfulness meditation instructor by Naropa University in association with Shambhala International. A member of the National Association of College and University Chaplains, he serves on the advisory council for the Upaya Buddhist Chaplaincy Training Program. In addition to his work for elephant journal, he is a blogger for Shambhala Sun. He has also written for Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, Religion Dispatches, The Journal of Buddhist Ethics, The Journal of Religion & Film, Eastern Horizon, New York Spirit, Alternet's Wiretap Magazine, and other publications. His award-winning website is http://www.dannyfisher.org


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