From among the many people who have contributed to the promotion of Buddhism and to Buddhist culture, BDK has annually selected and bestowed honor upon the most representative persons. The selections are not limited to those residing in Japan and nominations are open to, and received from, people of many backgrounds. Various categories of the Cultural Service Awards include Research, Thesis, Literary Works, Translation, Field Investigation, Publication, Literary Arts, Arts, Music, Critique, Practicer of the Dharma, etc.
The recognition includes an award as well as a monetary presentation.
Past American Recipients have included:
- Rev. Gyomay Kubose, American Buddhist priest (1971)
- Mrs. Shinobu Matsuura, Life long, American Buddhist Missionary (1975)
- Rev. Hozen Seki, Founder of American Buddhist Academy, New York City (1980)
- Dr. Kikuo Taira, American Buddhist Lay Leader (1984)
- Dr. Kenneth Inada, Innovative American Buddhist Scholar (1990)
- Gary Snyder, Pullitzer Prize Winning, American Poet and Zen teacher (1998)
- Dr. Alfred Bloom, American Buddhist Scholar (1999)
- Dr. Taitetsu Unno, American Buddhist Scholar & Mentor (2006)
- Dr. Barbara Ruch, American Buddhist Scholar specializing in research of Japanese Imperial Convents (2008)