Religious Traditions

photograph of buddhist priest wearing a japanese robe stands with shrine, scrolls with japanese writing, photographs of people, tables, a chair

Reverend Yutetsu Kawamura in Buddhist Church Raymond, 1939
Galt Museum & Archives 19790283008

The Issei brought with them their religious traditions. Most of the Issei who immigrated to southern Alberta were Buddhist. With no temple to worship at, the earliest immigrants set up shrines to worship in their homes.

The earliest Buddhist temple in southern Alberta was opened in 1929 in Raymond. After the mass relocation of Japanese Canadians from the west coast of Canada in 1941, new temples were opened in Picture Butte, Lethbridge, Coaldale, Rosemary and Taber.

The temple was the center of religious and cultural activity for many in the Japanese community. A number of festivals were celebrated throughout the year. Groups formed for boys, girls, young adults and women, providing opportunities for fellowship.

By the turn of the 21st Century, membership in all the temples was dwindling. The smaller temples closed and consolidated in a new temple which opened in Lethbridge in 2008.

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Audio transcript features Flo Senda speaking about churches being established in 1929 Galt Museum & Archives 19971071001

The audio file is available in English only; there is a translated transcript available below.