Midwest Buddhist Temple
435 West Menomonee Street • Chicago, IL 60614
312.943.7801, phone /  312.943.8069, fax
Office hours: 9 am to 4:30 pm / Monday through Friday

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Midwest Buddhist Temple
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70th Anniversary Fete Honors Past, Looks to Future

By Carl Ichikawa
The temple’s 70th Anniversary and dedication of our new Japanese Legacy Garden will take place on Sunday, June 22.

We are grateful to our Nisei members, who together with their Issei parents laid the foundation for what has grown into a diverse, multi-generational Sangha. Their generosity and hard work has expanded the temple from six charter members to more than 225 families and individuals.

And while it is important to understand our history, the Nisei remind us that it is even more important to focus on our future. Just look at the 21 Dharma School students and their families who have brought new energy to the temple. Introduce yourself to the many new faces at the temple and understand the bond that brings us together.

This anniversary celebration is just the beginning of a series of events over the coming year to celebrate the times to come. But first, how did this all start?

MBT was founded by Rev. Gyodo Kono, one of the dynamic Issei ministers who helped establish Buddhism in the United States. Following his release from the Rohwer, Ark., Relocation Camp, Kono sensei settled in Chicago and held the first service of the Midwest Buddhist Church on July 10, 1944, at the South Parkway Community Hall. The growing membership moved to the Uptown Players on LaSalle Street, which was destroyed when a fire broke out on Hanamatsuri 1946. Church activities moved to the Olivet Institute on Cleveland Avenue before members bought a permanent location in 1948 at 1757 North Park Ave.

North Park was the scene of the first Ginza Holiday in 1956, with the intersection of Menomonee and North Park closed to traffic for three days as parked cars were replaced with a temporary stage and booths. The church also participated in the Old Town Art Fair, where for years, we were the exclusive food vendor serving our famous chicken teriyaki. Obon was held in front of the church with the street closed to traffic.

In 1970, after years of planning and fundraising, ground was broken for our beautiful temple at 435 Menomonee St. The new building was dedicated on Nov. 7, 1971 and we officially became the Midwest Buddhist Temple. Kono sensei passed away suddenly in 1976.

The temple is honored to welcome Kono sensei’s nephew, Rev. Gyosho Kono, who joins us for our anniversary celebration. Gyosho Kono is the 16th generation to lead the family’s temple near Hiroshima, Japan, and provides a unique bond to MBT’s very beginning.

The day also marks the dedication of the Japanese Legacy Garden. This beautiful garden honors our members, especially the Issei and Nisei, whose legacy will continue as a wonderful, welcoming place for all who seek the Dharma.

The garden was designed by the world-renown Japanese landscape architect Hoichi Kurisu of Portland, Ore. Kurisu-san designed the famed Anderson Garden in Rockford, considered to be among the most authentic Japanese gardens in the U.S.

The east viewing garden can be enjoyed from the sidewalk, as well as from an enlarged walkway to the parking lot.  From huge boulders that seem to defy gravity in their placement, to sturdy 40-year-old maples, to the roof tiles used as a border, the garden invites the viewer to enjoy nature’s harmony.

The west garden is entered through a traditional wooden gate, crafted in Oregon, shipped to Chicago and assembled by two master carpenters.  A flowing walkway leads you past the soothing sounds of the water basin and to the statue of Shinran Shonin. This peaceful place is a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Be sure to come to the temple, your temple, where we honor our past and eagerly move
forward toward an exciting future.

When: 11:30 am June 22
Where: At the temple

Grapefruit Kanten Cooking Class on June 28

One of our favorite treats at our family’s New Year’s oshogatsu feast is grapefruit kanten—so refreshing.

Well, now we have a chance to learn how to make it.

May Nakano, MBT’s very own Julia Childs-san, will be teaching how to make grapefruit kanten at the June cooking class.

Please see Jesse Zavala in the MBT office for details or to sign up—or just sign up on the bulletin board near the kitchen.

10 am to noon.
Cost: $15 for members/ $20 for nonmembers; lunch will be served after class

Obon, Obon, It's Festival Time

It seems like summer is just getting started in the Midwest but as the calendar shows, we are already looking toward Obon Festival.

Practices are at the temple at 7:30 pm on:
 June 30
 July 2
 July 3
 July 8
 July 10

The Obon Odori is at 8 p.m. Saturday, July 12.

No previous experience necessary —come out and join in the festival to honor our loved ones who have passed away.
— Elaine Miyamura

Visit, learn and enjoy the new MBT Legacy Garden on July 19

We are thrilled to introduce the MBT Legacy Garden to you—our neighbors, supporters, and old and new friends. Please join us at the

Midwest Buddhist Temple from 11 am to 3 pm on Saturday, July 19,  for light refreshments and to experience the beauty and serenity of our
Japanese temple garden within a city environment. Come inside as well and tour the temple.
For more information about the MBT Legacy Garden and how it came to be, visit mbtgarden.org or visit us on Facebook, facebook.com/mbtgarden.

If you have additional questions, please call us at 312.943.7801.

Ginza Holiday! It's a Japanese Fair—with MBT Flair

Mark your calendars: The 59th annual Ginza Holiday will be held Aug. 8–10.
Hours are 5:30 to 9 pm Friday, Aug. 8, 11:30 am—9:30 pm Saturday, Aug. 9, and 11:30 am—6 pm Sunday, Aug. 10.

And as in the recent past, Yoko Noge and Japanesque will perform on Saturday night. (The Chicago Air and Water show falls on the weekend after Ginza.)

A benefit donation of $7 for adults, and $6 for students and senior citizens will be collected at the gate on all other dates. A special three day pass will be available for $15. Children under 12 will be admitted free when accompanied by an adult.

Click here to learn more about the foods, entertainment and artisans at this year's festival. Or for information, call 312-943-7801.

What happens when  you marry Irish and Japanese cultures, the Chicago Tribune's Rick Kogan wondered?

"It was very moving," Irish tenor Paddy Homan tells him in Kogan's "Sidewalks" column in the March 14 Chicago Tribune, speaking about the collaboration of Irish and Japanese musicians at the MBT Legacy Garden Benefit Concert on March 9. "Some of the songs we chose worked so well with the [Japanese taiko] drums, giving the songs a greater feel, sometimes a haunting feeling. The experience reminded me of how rich and diverse Chicago is, and I think I may have found my percussion section for future concerts."


The Perfect Way to Celebrate St. Patty's Day...

Give a listen to Ho Etsu Taiko members Jason Matsumoto, Ori Kawahara and Tiani Pyer-Peereira when they visited with Rick Kogan on his "After Hours" program on WGN-AM Radio and gave Chicago a preview of music to come at the MBT Legacy Garden Benefit Concert.

Listen here...

MBT Legacy Garden
Learn more about our Japanese temple garden now under construction.


All are welcome
"Come as you are"

Sunday services
* Zen Shin meditation
8:30—9:30 am

* Family service
10:30 am

Try Zen Shin meditation
6—7 pm

Upcoming Sunday services

July Memorial
July 6 / 10:30 am

August Memorial
August 3– 10:30 am

Upcoming events

Book Sale
June 14 and 15
9 am—5 pm

Garden small

MBT Legacy Garden Dedication
MBT 70th anniversary
June 22