Hawaii Shingon Mission
Hawaii Shingon Mission or Shingon Shu Hawaii (formerly the Shingon Sect Mission of Hawaii) at 915 Sheridan Street in Honolulu, Hawaii, is one of the most elaborate displays of Japanese Buddhist temple architecture in Hawai ʻi. It was first built in 1917-1918 by Nakagawa Katsutaro, a master builder of Japanese-style temples, then renovated in 1929 by Hego Fuchino, a self-taught man who was the first person of Japanese ancestry to become a licensed architect in the Islands. The building underwent further changes in 1978, and was considerably augmented in 1992. However, its most distinctive features remain: the steep, hipped-gable roof ( irimoya ) with rounded-gable projection, both with elaborate carvings on the ends, and the glittering altar and interior furnishings from Japan that signify its ties to esoteric Shingon Buddhism. The temple was added to the National Register of Historic Places on 26 April 2002, on the 100th anniversary of the construction of a new teaching hall for Shingon Buddhism in Lahaina, Maui.

The round tomoe at the top of the entrance roof represents the cycle of life and is the traditional symbol of the Koyasan Shingon sect, the carved phoenix represents death and rebirth, and the carved dragons represent both power and good fortune. The obelisk at the front edge of the property commemorates the first Shingon pilgrimage to Japan by immigrants in Hawaii in 1929. The more recently added statue in front depicts KÅbÅ Daishi ( KÅ«kai, 774-835 CE), the founder of Shingon. An oil painting of the Daishi by a member, Mrs. Helen Nakagawa Abe, of the local congregation also graces the altar inside the temple. The Sheridan Street temple was once the leader among 15 Hawai Ê»i congregations of Shingon. But, after the average age of its parishioners began to approach 80, longtime church director Reyn Yorio Tsuru began an outreach program to bring in new members. In 2004, the congregation agreed to sever ties with KongÅbuji, Shingon's home temple on Koyasan, after becoming dissatisfied with the sect's hierarchical structure and its Japanese priests unfamiliar with local ways. By 2008, Tsuru became the chief minister as well as church director, and the average age of the parishioners had dropped to 45. In 2009, the temple added a worship service in English, and planned on a slow transition to primarily English services. The Shingon Shu Hawaii temple commissioned the creation of a ceiling panel (tenjo-e) that depicts the Taizokai mandala which measures 600 square feet (56 m 2). Done in original pigments mixed by Japanese artisans and suspended in animal fat, the pigments were applied to individually lacquered (urushi) panels, then placed by hand into a grid suspended from the ceiling. In 2007 the arrival of Fujin (Wind God) and Raijin (Thunder God) statues, completed the second phase of the temple's artistic additions. The statues which can be seen at the immediate entrance of the main hall were chosen to depict the Hawaiian prevailing trade winds with Fujin, and an appreciation for the power and force of nature in Raijin. Each stand over ten feet in height, and weigh over 2800 pounds a piece. Constructed of Japanese Cypress, they are the largest depictions of the Wind and Thunder Gods outside of Japan.

Building Activity

  • Kiril Pavlov
    Kiril Pavlov activity.buildings_person.create
    about 6 years ago via OpenBuildings.com