2019 Cohort

Honpa Hongwanji Hawaii Betsuin

(Shin Buddhism)

Honolulu, Hawaii

Honpa Hongwanji Hawaii Betsuin in Honolulu is the main Shin Buddhist temple of the Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii, serving as the flagship for over 30 smaller temples statewide and as an educational and cultural hub for the entire community.

Honpa Hongwanji Hawaii Betsuin by Alan Kubota

Honpa Hongwanji Hawaii Betsuin by Alan Kubota

2019 Cohort

Honpa Hongwanji Hawaii Betsuin

(Shin Buddhism)

Honolulu, Hawaii

Honpa Hongwanji Hawaii Betsuin in Honolulu is the main Shin Buddhist temple of the Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii, serving as the flagship for over 30 smaller temples statewide and as an educational and cultural hub for the entire community.

Japanese immigrants introduced Buddhism to Hawaii in the late 1800s, and their faith became a critical force for community stabilization, social justice, and cultural preservation. Construction of the Hawaii Betsuin temple began in 1918 with a design by noted Hawaii architects Walter Emory and Marshall Webb that combined traditional and modern elements, symbolizing “Buddhism’s roots in India and its arrival in America and the modern world,” according to the congregation. The installation of wooden pews, a high pulpit, and an organ, as well as the adoption of Christian styles of worship, facilitated the acceptance of Buddhism as an American faith tradition. In 1963, architect Arthur A. Kohara, a member of the Hawaii Betsuin temple, designed three additions to the campus—the Annex Temple, Social Hall, and Dormitory—which were intended to blend with the historic temple. More than $40,000 was raised by the Buddhist Women’s Association to help construct the annex.

Today, Hawaii Betsuin is dedicated to supporting members of the Sangha (Buddhist community) and the community at large, especially the elderly, youth, and families. The temple supports one of the largest and most active scouting programs in Hawaii, with Girl Scout, Cub Scout, and Boy Scout troops run by parent volunteers. The Buddhist Women’s Association, founded in 1898, provides meals for unsheltered families, helps with the annual blood drive, sends cards to nursing homes, and sells vintage Japanese items to raise money for nonprofits. The temple’s schools welcome children of all faiths.

A National Fund grant of $80,000, plus an additional $80,000 in matching funds raised by the congregation, will allow Hawaii Betsuin to construct accessible restrooms in the upper annex that will serve the main Hondo (sanctuary) and the entire campus. The congregation also will renovate an under-used lounge into a multi-purpose room and community gathering space for groups of varying sizes.

Honpa Hongwanji Hawaii Betsuin courtesy Honpa Hongwanji Hawaii Betsuin

Honpa Hongwanji Hawaii Betsuin courtesy Honpa Hongwanji Hawaii Betsuin

Stories and Media Coverage

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