Milwaukee Zen Center

This profile was last updated in 2004


In the mid-1970s, a few people in the Milwaukee area began meeting to study Buddhism and to do Zazen (zen sitting). For several years, Katagiri-roshi came here from the Minnesota Zen Meditation Center to give public lectures and weekend retreats. Slowly, an organized group of people with a common interest grew. With the help of many people, the Milwaukee Zen Center was incorporated in 1983 as a nonprofit organization. It now serves many local communities and several Midwestern states. In September 1985, Reverend Tozen Akiyama came to the center as resident priest. Then, in September 1986, the Zen Center purchased its present building, where all center activities take place. There are now three additional priests affiliated with the Zen Center, all of whom were ordained by Reverend Akiyama.

Activities and Schedule

Wednesdays and Fridays at 6:15 A.M. and 6:30 P.M. Zazen (zen sitting), Kinhin (zen walking), and service Saturdays at 6:15 A.M. Zazen, Kinhin, service, breakfast, and study class First Wednesday of each month: Introduction to Buddhism and Zen followed by instruction in Zazen, tea, and discussion; 6:30-8:30 p.m.; walk-ins welcome

Special Events

Vaisakha Day (Buddha’s birthday): A city-wide gathering of Buddhist communities, including Lao, Vietnamese, and Korean groups, where families are welcome to attend. Vaisakha Day is usually celebrated on April 8th if the community uses a solar calendar or in mid-May if they use a lunar calendar, so in Milwaukee the holiday usually takes place sometime between these two dates. New Year’s Day: A city-wide event that has taken place since 2000, where Buddhist communities hold a celebration for peace.