Special Places, Sacred Spaces: Two Traditional Buddhist Temples in Nihonmachi Los Angeles

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2 Scopus citations


This article explores two significant Buddhist temples in Los Angeles’s Little Tokyo, the Nishi Hongwanji, and the Higashi Honganji Buddhist Churches. The study’s methodology is inspired by Yi-Fu Tuan’s humanistic geography, whose work explores the relationship between environment and human subjective experience. As the majority of 20th-century Japanese immigrants were Buddhists, a closer look at the temples helps explicate the dynamic between Buddhist belief and its architectural expression. This article takes the concept of a binary as its framework. It explores Little Tokyo in terms of the sacred and profane, the inner and outer, and the vertical and the horizontal vis-à-vis two Buddhist temples. The argument here is that these dualities resolve into one holistic experience with respect to the formation of memory, history, and religious faith.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)664-678
Number of pages15
JournalSpace and Culture
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2021


  • Buddhism
  • Jodo Shinshu
  • architecture
  • humanistic geography
  • sacred space

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Urban Studies
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


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