Peter Iwaho Oda 1917-2014

Peter Oda was born in northern California in 1917, the oldest of four Oda brothers. Educated in Japan, Peter returned to California in 1936 and was drafted and inducted into the US Army in 1942.  He initially went to cooking school, but volunteered for the Military Intelligence Service (MIS) because of his his Japanese language skills.

He met and married his wife Helen during the war years. Peter excelled with the MIS and so stayed on with the intelligence service after the war as an instructor. The language school was relocated to Monterey, California after the war and Peter and Helen settled there for the next 54 years.

They owned and operated many Asian restaurants during this period. His outgoing personality and business sense made him a successful restaurateur. Even in retirement Mr. Oda’s services as a chef were in demand and he continued to be a sushi chef at the award winning Robata Sushi Restaurant, one of Carmel’s most famous Japanese restaurants. Clint Eastwood was one of his famous regular customers. Many people in Monterey still remembered Peter from his restaurants and would stop to say hello to him. 

Peter Oda in 2013

Helen passed on in 2001 and in 2010 Peter moved to Chicago to be closer to relatives. Visiting BTC with his nephew Stanley Oda he found enjoyment in the atmosphere and peace of the Temple as well as all the members of the Sangha who made him feel at home. For this he forgaves our cold Midwestern weather.  He particularly enjoyed the seasonal festivals and Taiko drumming.

Rev. Patti Nakai

For writings and reflections on the dharma by Rev. Nakai, visit her blog, Taste of Chicago Buddhism.

Rev. Patti Nakai, Resident Minister


Contact Temple President Bill Bohlman at or find him most Sundays after service at the temple information desk and bookstore.

Bill Bohlman, Temple President