Betsuin Archives Committee

Seattle Buddhist members, recognizing the rich history tied into their Temple, formed the Betsuin Archives Committee in 1977. The intent of the committee is to preserve the Japanese American Buddhists’ heritage for future generations.


To promote understanding and education through the collection, preservation, exhibition and research of all materials having an historical or religious value for the Betsuin and the surrounding Seattle community.


The Betsuin Archives was established in 1977 under the Religious Committee and funded by the Central Religious Committee. In 1990, the Betsuin Archives Committee was reorganized under the Board of Directors and funded by the Seattle Betsuin. A safe storage area was assigned to the Committee in the basement of Memorial Hall.

Collection Description

To date, we have collected, catalogued, and indexed over 2,000 artifacts and over 3,000 photographs, slides and documents. We have completed more than 20 oral history interviews.

Programs, Exhibits, and Activities

1991 From Then to Now (1901-1991)
History of Temple and Bon Odori
Noodle Shop to Present; 50/90 (50 years at 1427 South Main Street / 90 years of the Temple’s existence)
1992 History of Bon Odori (with educational component)
1993 Continuing a Tradition (with educational component)
1994 Seattle’s Bon Odori; Historic Doll Exhibit
BCA Centennial Publication
1995 Drama in the Community / 1930 Stage Props
BCA Centennial Publication
1996 95 Years / Temple Retrospective (with interactive participation)
Picture Bride Skit BCA Centennial Publication
1997 Mottainai (with interactive participation)
Picture Bride Skit (New Year Party)
BCA Centennial Publication
Inventory of Temple Artifacts
Address to North Shore Senior Center
1998 Japanese Folk Art: Daruma and Masks (with interactive participation)
Oral Histories and Pre-Interviews for Oral Histories

Community Outreach

Wing Luke Asian Museum: Fifty Years Before and Fifty Years After (EO9066); One Song, Many Voices; NP Hotel; A Bridge Home: Music in the Lives of Asian Pacific Americans; Divided Destiny

University of Washington: KCTS/Channel 9, “NW Memories”; Dept. of Architecture, AIA 100th Anniversary publication; Burke Museum “Strength and Diversity”; Gail Dubrow, College of Architecture; Professor James Nason, Department of Anthropology

Other Organizations: MOHAI: “Blueprints—100 Years of Seattle Architecture; Densho; Seattle Historic Preservation and Development Authority; Seattle Public Schools Education Program

Research Resource: Betsuin Kaikan Board Open House; Comish Art Student; UW Art History Student; Koji Yamamoto, Photographer from Japan; Betsuin Scouts 50th Anniversary; Madeline Duntley, PhD, University of Iowa; Japan America Society; University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada, Dept. of History

In addition, one of the committee’s major goals is to establish a museum and repository for many photos, artifacts, documents and oral histories that exist in the community.

If you have any items to donate to the Betsuin Archives Committee, or if you would like further information, please leave a message at 206-329-0800.

The Archives Committee regularly produces exhibits that document the history of the temple and its members. Shown below are some of the objects that Japanese Americans made and used in the Relocation Camps during World War II.

A March 2000 exhibit:

An October 2000 exhibit