Placer Buddhist Church

3192 Boyington Road                                                        P.O.Box 349             <-- New Mailing AddressPenryn, CA. 95663(916) 652-6139

A Dharma Message by Rev. Matt Hamasaki

April 2024

In April, we celebrate Hanamatsuri (literally Flower Festival) which commemorates the birth of Siddartha Gautama, who would eventually become the Buddha. Legend tells of the auspicious birth in Lumbini’s garden when all the flowers burst into bloom and sweet tea rained from the sky. Thus, our tradition is to have a statue of the baby Buddha in the Hanamido (literally Flower Hall) which is decorated in flowers. It is the one time of year that we pull this special statue out of storage and have a unique and ornate offering. Recently, I have developed a newfound appreciation for this statue we have.


The truth of impermanence means we are losing more and more of the Nisei generation as they, as a whole, grow older. There is a small silver lining though, as we begin to uncover more about their lives -- , especially their early lives -- after they pass away. And one aspect which, although we do speak about it frequently but was often not mentioned in life, is the time in the internment camps. So, learning more about this difficult but influential time for our predecessors opens insight into their sacrifices and also their ingenuity.


Practicing Buddhism was all but forbidden in camp. They didn’t want Japanese to be spoken for fear of spy messages being spread and, of course, there was no altar area available. This did not stop the services from happening, and they did with what they had. At one camp, a man snuck into the kitchen and carved a baby Buddha out of a carrot and other internees combined the sugar they were rationed to make sweet coffee to pour over it. In another camp, for lack of flowers, they dyed toilet paper red with beet juice and folded them into flowers.


To me, more than how fancy the set-up may be, the care and effort put into these altars would make the Buddha smile. It reflects their dedication and how much they treasured the Buddhist teachings – that no matter what situation they experience, they revere and take refuge in the Buddha-Dharma. It is a lesson for me and for all of us to recognize how fortunate we are currently and to reexamine our own devotion to the teachings. 


Rev. Matt

The Placer Buddhist Church is located at 3192 Boyington Road in Penryn California, County of Placer.  It is located at the scenic base of the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains just off Interstate 80.  It is approximately half way between San Francisco and Reno, Nevada.

The Church was founded in 1902 in the small foothills town of Penryn.  The original church was near the center of town approximately 3 miles from its current location. The church moved to its current location in approximately 1963.  The church is well known in the community for the annual food bazaar which is always held on the 4th weekend of September.  The annual food bazaar started in 1964, just after the church moved to the new location.

The church supports many organizations such as the Placer Buddhist Women’s Association (PBWA), Young Buddhist Association (YBA), Sierra Bonsai Club, Dharma School, and Placer Ume Taiko Groups.  The church also holds various classes during the week including calligraphy, flower arranging, Tai Chi, Obon dancing and exercise classes.  See the church calendar for class times.