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Japanese Buddhist Temples in Hawai‘i

Japanese Buddhist Temples in Hawai‘i: An Illustrated Guide

Copyright Date: 2013
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  • Book Info
    Japanese Buddhist Temples in Hawai‘i
    Book Description:

    Upon entering a Japanese Buddhist temple in Hawai'i, most people-whether first-time visitors or lifelong members-are overwhelmed by the elaborate and complex display of golden ornaments, intricately carved altar tables and incense burners, and images of venerable masters and bodhisattvas. These objects, as well as the architectural elements of the temple itself, have meanings that are often hidden in ancient symbolisms. This book, written by two local authorities on Japanese art and religion, provides a thorough yet accessible overview of Buddhism in Hawai'i followed by a temple-by-temple guide to the remaining structures across the state.Introductory chapters cover the basic history, teachings, and practices of various denominations and the meanings of objects commonly found in temples. Taken together, they form a short primer on Buddhism in Japan and Hawai'i. The heart of the book is a narrative description of the ninety temples still extant in Hawai'i. Augmented by over 350 color photographs, each entry begins with historical background information and continues with descriptions of architecture, sanctuaries, statuary and ritual implements, columbariums, and grounds. Appended at the end is a chart listing each temple's denomination, membership number, and architectural type.While many Buddhist temples in Hawai'i are active social and religious centers, a good number are in serious decline. In addition to being an introduction to Buddhism and a guide book,Japanese Buddhist Temples of Hawai'iis an indispensable historical record of what exists today and what may be gone tomorrow. It will appeal to temple members, pilgrims, residents, and tourists interested in local cultural and historic sites, and historians of Buddhism in Hawai'i.363 color illus.

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-3728-0
    Subjects: Architecture and Architectural History, Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xiv)

    If we had to pick one word that describes most Buddhist temples, it would be “ornate.” This is especially true of the altar area, where golden ornaments dangle from ceilings, altar tables are carved in intricate detail, rich brocades hang as curtains and coverings, incense burners are teeming with dragons and other mythic animals, and sculpted and painted images represent ancient masters, buddhas, and bodhisattvas. And there is more, so much more that people often see these ornate displays as a kind of blur, a glittering of lacquer and gold that overwhelms the senses and makes it difficult to focus...


    • 1 From India to Japan to Hawai‘i
      (pp. 1-16)

      If Shakyamuni, the prince-turned-mendicant who founded Buddhism more than twenty-five hundred years ago in India, were to visit Hawai‘i today, he would be amazed at the many different forms his religion has taken. Some things he would recognize as having originated with himself, such as the Four Noble Truths, the teaching of karma, and the moral precepts against killing, stealing, lying, and other vices. But much would be new to him. He would not recognize most of the scriptures in common use today, such as theLotus Sutraor thePure Land Sutras, which were composed long after his death,...

    • 2 Architecture and Interiors
      (pp. 17-42)

      Japanese Buddhist temples in Hawai‘i were built in a remarkable range of styles, some of which are unique to the islands. Early Japanese immigrants were intimately familiar with the rich tradition of temple designs in Japan, and some of them were skilled craftsmen who had knowledge about building temples. But Hawai‘i was not Japan, and new circumstances affected their designs. Architecture gives form to ideas at the same time it provides for functional needs, and the temples exhibit tangible evidence that can be read for hints about what generations of Japanese in Hawai‘i thought about Buddhism and how it should...


      (pp. 45-110)

      AIEA HONGWANJI MISSION was famous in the 1950s and 1960s for its bazaars featuring handmadeudonnoodles, sushi, pickled onions, and doughnuts cooked over an outdoor fire. The temple was also a busy place, offering classes in Japanese language, sewing, flower arrangement, and etiquette. In addition to its sponsorship of a preschool, a judo club, and a Junior Young Buddhist Association, the temple hosts many activities such as the Lotus Adult Day Care Center, classes in aerobics, karaoke singing, Okinawansanshinmusic, and math and reading in a Kumon program.

      The temple’s striking entryway and roofline are done in the...

      (pp. 111-166)

      THE HAKALAU JŌDO Mission was the center of the community that grew up around Hakalau Plantation. When the temple opened its Japanese school in 1904, it had fifty students, and by the time the current hall was built, there were three hundred students. In a pattern common to plantation temples, the congregation dwindled to only a few families after the demise of the sugar company in 1974. The mill is now gone, but the temple remains as a prominent reminder of how the plantation town once thrived.

      The windows and the entryway of the temple have scalloped Mughal arches reminiscent...

      (pp. 167-220)

      HONPA HONGWANJI ACTIVITIES on Kaua‘i began in 1909 when services were held in a house in Hanapepe. People came from the surrounding plantation camps in Eleele, Port Allen, Wahiawa, Niumila, and Makaweli. The plantation made land available in Eleele, and in 1913 the congregation built a temple in the traditional style. An oil painting and an embroidered rendering of the old temple can be seen inside the current temple. Because the congregation wanted to be independent from the plantation and because half of the Eleele property was condemned for highway construction, the congregation purchased land in Hanapepe and built the...

    (pp. 221-224)
    (pp. 225-232)
  9. INDEX
    (pp. 233-238)
  10. Back Matter
    (pp. 239-241)