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300 Turn Out to Celebrate Cortez Buddhist Church’s Centennial

A festive crowd of about 300 people turned out amid triple-digit temperatures on July 1 to celebrate the centennial of the Cortez Buddhist Church, a satellite BCA church in Turlock, California.


The centennial event was combined with the annual Obon festival.


“From the standpoint of one of the few residents left of the Cortez Nikkei community, I would have to say that our event was a testament to all who come together and recognize what community means — to put effort into a common goal regardless of the temperature or how far one had to travel,” said Daniel Kubo, a member of the Cortez Howakai who helped organize the centennial celebration and Obon.


“It is with great gratitude for all the people who participated in the various aspects of this Obon Odori — “ichigo ichie,” (once in a lifetime) “okagesame” (thank you)!” Kubo continued.


In 2019, the Cortez Buddhist Church celebrated the 100-year anniversary of the founding of the Cortez Colony by Kyutaro Abiko on April 13. The event was held on the grounds of the Cortez Hall and Cortez Buddhist Church.


Professor Valerie Matsumoto of UCLA Asian American Studies Department delivered the main address and the attendants included descendants of Kyutaro Abiko as well as many former residents of Cortez. There were about 350 to 400 people who gathered that day.


In 2019, the centennial Obon Odori was held on July 6 and featured a live performance of “Ei Ja Nai Ka,” and attracted about 350 people.


The Cortez Buddhist Church holds monthly Dharma services, which are conducted by the Buddhist Church of Stockton’s Resident Minister Rev. Candice Shibata.


Since the pandemic, most of the services are held via Zoom. Special services such as Hanamatsuri in April, New Year’s Day, and Post Harvest in November are now held in person.


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