Rev. Yoshitaka Tamai, Iconic Tri-State/Denver Minister

Rev. Yoshitaka Tamai was born in 1900 in Toyama-ken, Japan. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy and also completed his graduate studies at Toyo University. He received his Tokudo Ordination in 1920 and Kyoshi Certification in 1931.


He married Yasuko Fujitani of the Yusuji Temple in Kagoshima in 1919. They had a son, Kokubun, who was born in 1920. A second son, Shobun, was born in 1927, but due to complications, resulting from a difficult pregnancy, he passed away. Yasuko remained hospitalized and eventually returned to her home in Kagoshima. Kokubun went to live with his grandparents in Toyama-ken. Rev. Tamai worked in the editorial department of the Kodansha Magazine Company for four years, but resigned to seek meaningful work in the ministry.


He came to America in 1930 and was assigned to the Denver Buddhist Church as an assistant minister and Japanese language teacher. But with the transfer of the head minister, Rev. Tamai, at age 30, became the third head minister of the Denver Buddhist Church in 1932.


It was not a good time to head a church. America was in the Great Depression, and he faced many huge challenges to keeping Jodo Shinshu alive in the Denver and Tri-States area. The building was in need of immediate repairs; there were delinquent bills and a pending foreclosure by the City of Denver. Confronted with these issues, he asked the trustees to stop paying his monthly salary for one to two years and started a fundraising program. He did the ask, too. He didn't care about himself, but only about the church and the n