The Tassajara Zen Mountain Center in the Ventana Wilderness area of the Los Padres National Forest, southeast of Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, is the oldest Japanese Buddhist Sōtō Zen monastery in the United States. The Center is very isolated, more than 16 miles (26 km) from the nearest paved road, and only accessible via a narrow, steep, one-lane dirt road. During the winter months, practitioners live alone on site. During the summer months, the Center is opened to day and overnight guests. The hot springs have been developed into Japanese-style baths. It is the first Zen monastery established outside Asia.
San Francisco Zen Center (SFZC), is a network of affiliated Sōtō Zen practice and retreat centers in the San Francisco Bay area, comprising City Center or Beginner's Mind Temple, Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, and Green Gulch Farm Zen Center.
The sangha was incorporated by Shunryu Suzuki Roshi and a group of his American students in 1962.
Today SFZC is the largest Sōtō organization in the .
Buddhism entered the US during the 19th century with the arrival of the first immigrants from East Asia. The first Buddhist temple was established in San Francisco in 1853 by Chinese Americans.
The first prominent US citizen to publicly convert to Buddhism was Colonel Henry Steel Olcott in 1880 who is still honored in Sri Lanka for his Buddhist revival efforts.
An event that contributed to the strengthening of Buddhism in the US was the .