Welcome to the Higashi Honganji Buddhist Temple. Our temple offers a spiritual environment that cultivates individual exploration based on the Buddhadharma.  Through self-reflection, we are encouraged to strive for harmony with respect for the differences in our diverse community.

Higashi Honganji Buddhist Temple

Throughout the 2,500 years of its history, Buddhism has evolved over the years to meet the spiritual needs of the people. Our Higashi Honganji Buddhist Temple is an affiliate of one of the oldest and largest denominations in Japan, the Shinshu Otani-ha with approximately 10,000 temples and 10,000,000 members. It espouses the teachings of Jodo Shinshu (also known as Shin Buddhism, a form of Pure Land Buddhism). The Honganji tradition traces its beginning to Shinran Shonin (1173-1262), a priest of the Kamakura Period and a student of Honen Shonin, the founder of the Jodo Sect. The central practice of listening to the Buddhadharma (teachings) was Shinran’s conviction in opening a path to enlightenment for all.

The Jodo Shinshu movement in the United States had its beginning just over 100 years ago, and has grown rapidly with many temples throughout the country. We encourage you to visit our temple and hope that by learning about the various services, you too, will find the serenity to not only enjoy living, but to contribute to the general well being of all living things.

Our temple offers a spiritual environment which cultivates individual exploration based on the Buddhadharma. Through self-reflection, we are encouraged to strive for harmony with respect for the differences in our diverse community. Hopefully, you will find here a respite from the concerns of the outside world and join us to seek a deeper understanding that will lead to more meaningful and rewarding experiences as we continue on the path of life.

Temple History

The Los Angeles Higashi Honganji Buddhist Temple has served the Buddhist community since the turn of the 20th Century. In 1904, Rev. Junjyo Izumida established the first Japanese Buddhist temple in Los Angeles, located at 229 1/2 East Fourth Street. The temple was relocated several times, to San Julian Street in Little Tokyo (1907), to Savannah Street (1911), and, in 1926, the temple was moved to 118 North Mott Street in the Boyle Heights area of East Los Angeles, where it remained for the next fifty years. The present temple, built in 1976, marked the return of the Higashi Honganji to its roots in Little Tokyo.

The temple observed its Centennial Celebration, celebrating 100 years of buddhism in Los Angeles, on October 23-25, 2004. For a more detailed history of the temple’s 100 years in Los Angeles, please refer to Centennial History.

Early 1920’s photo of the temple on Savannah St.

1976 Installation of the rooftop time capsule by construction workers from Japan.

Community Service

Though the primary function of the temple has been to fulfill the religious needs of the community, the temple has also served as a center for a variety of other activities as well. It was, for instance, the home of the first judo-kendo dojo in Los Angeles, in addition to having served as an orphanage, a Japanese language school, and as a facility for a variety of cultural classes. Today, the Higashi Honganji houses the Lumbini Child Development Center, a licensed pre-school and fully accredited kindergarten with a full capacity of 74 children in its care.

Centennial Celebration (1904-2004)

Celebrating 100 Years of Buddhism in Los Angeles Walking the Path of the Nembutsu By celebrating 100 years of Buddhism in Los Angeles, Higashi Honganji Buddhist Temple shares its great joy in recognizing its 100th anniversary, for it was this Jodo Shinshu Sangha, a Buddhist community going back to the 12th century Japanese teacher Shinran Shonin, that first introduced Buddhism to the region. All who walk the path of the Nembutsu, by saying “Namu Amida Butsu”, can enter the Pure Land and find the light and life of the Amida Buddha. This simple teaching is offered to all people through Sunday services and a host of other community activities. The Temple’s history begins with one dedicated Japanese priest who, with the Buddha, the Dharma (teachings), and the Sangha, served all those who chose this path. Along the way challenges were faced; the Sangha grew and changed; and today, it looks to the next 100 years on the path and prepares for a bright future.


Built in 1976, the temple’s architecture includes a traditional roof with over 30,000 tiles imported from Japan, lanterns which adorn the ceiling of the main chapel, and a magnificent statue of Amida Buddha on the altar. temple reveals itself as a magnificent repository of Buddhist art and architecture. The beautiful Japanese garden was landscaped and continues to be maintained by temple members.


The Altar

A. Main Hall

The main hall is referred to as the Hondo and is composed of two areas. The altar(Naijin) in a Jodo Shinshu temple is a symbol of the beauty of the Pure Land, the world of enlightenment, and is, thus, beautiful and ornate.

The seating area(Gejin), by contrast, represents the world we live in, and is plain, devoid of any decoration.

B. Amida Buddha

The Buddha enshrined as the central figure in our altar is Amida Buddha, who symbolizes the wisdom and compassion inherent in the enlightenment of the Sakyamuni Buddha.

C. Shinran Shonin

The image of Shinran Shonin (1173-1262), the founder of the Jodo Shinshu tradition, hangs to the right of Amida Buddha.

D. Rennyo Shonin

The image of Rennyo Shonin (1415-1499), the 8th Abbot of the Honganji Temple, remembered for his invaluable contributions in the history of our tradition, hangs to the left of Amida Buddha.

E. Scrolls

On the far right, there hangs a scroll with the characters, Namu Amida Butsu, (I Take Refuge in Amida Buddha), the phrase members are encouraged to recite that serves as a spiritual mirror for our awakening.  To the right of the scroll is a statue of a bodhisattva, one who has entered the path of Buddhism and is diligently pursuing the goal of enlightenment.  In the area to the far left hang two scrolls. One depicts an image of Prince Shotoku (574-621), recognized to be the father of Japanese Buddhism.  The scroll beside it depicts the Seven Patriarchs of our Honganji tradition, the seven masters in history that our founder, Shinran Shonin considered to be essential in his understanding of the Buddhadharma.  They are Nagarjuna (c. 150-250) and Vasubandhu (c. 320-400) of India, T’an Luan (476-542), Tao-ch’o (562-645), and Shan-tao (613-681) of China, Genshin (942-1017) and Honen (1133-1212) of Japan.

F. Incense

There are several urns in the altar used to burn incense. Incense diffuses a sweet fragrance, transcending its shape and color.  The burning of incense symbolizes the transcending of selfishness or ego to become one with others.  It represents a symbolic cleansing of mind and body to prepare oneself to receive the Dharma.

G. Flowers

Flowers adorn the altar. They are appreciated not only for their beauty, but as a symbol of impermanence…they are beautiful in the morning, but fade in the heat of the day.  They remind us of the continuous change within and around us.

H. Candlelight

The lights burning in the altar symbolize wisdom, the light through which we understand truth.  For Buddhists, wisdom is realized only through experience.  Other lamps that adorn the altar also symbolize the illumination that the Dharma brings to our lives.

I. Obuppan

In addition to the flowers, there is also an offering of food in the altar.  Rice, being the staple of the Japanese diet, is the traditional offering called obuppan.  On other occasions, fruit and other foods may supplement the obuppan.  This custom symbolizes our appreciation for the food we receive, and serves as a reminder that we should share what we have with others.