History of Lahaina Hongwanji Mission

The forerunner of Lahaina Hongwanji Mission dates back to March 1904, but it did not come by easily. Rev. Tessan Funakura of Wailuku Hongwanji Mission was assigned the task of commuting 25 miles on horseback over the pali’s precarious mountain trail to Lahaina. He dutifully began the propagation of the Teachings of Shin Buddhism (Jodo Shinshu) in Lahaina town. In October of the same year, Rev. Kenyu Arai was dispatched to become the first resident minister of the Lahaina Hongwanji Mission, which found its beginning in the Mala District of Lahaina.

In May 1911, the present property located at 551 Wainee Street was purchased. By October 1912, the construction of the temple, minister’s residence, and school was completed. It was during the tenure of Rev. Shinri Sarashina (1924-1936) that the old temple was replaced, in 1933, by the temple as it exists today. The temple’s construction was a culmination of the mission’s 5-year financial plan.

Down through the years since its founding, the Lahaina Hongwanji Mission has become the focal point of worship. This worship and fellowship have been supported by social activities such as Holiday Seasons’ festivities, Bazaars, Obon Festivals, mochi-pounding, crafts, karaoke singing, monthly memorial services, seminars, Dharma School, and much more. The mission held commemorative events such as the 75th Anniversary Celebration, the 80th Anniversary celebration, and, in October of 2004, the Centennial Celebration. Lahaina Hongwanji has been a place where people gather to pause and reflect, to work and play.

The name of our congregation --- Hongwanji --- means the Temple of Amida’s Universal Vow. Hongwanji is also the name of the original temple founded by the descendants of Shinran Shonin (1173-1262). Although Buddhist teachings can be traced back to India, Hongwanji has its origin in 13th Century Japan, in the era of Shinran Shonin.

Resident Minister
Rev. Mari Nishiyama has been Lahaina Hongwanji’s Resident Minister since March, 2008. Prior to her assignment to this temple, Rev. Nishiyama was at Hilo Betsuin. She is originally from Fukuoka, Japan.

Temple Groups
BUDDHIST WOMEN’S ASSOCIATION (Fujinkai): Members assist with temple activities such as: cleaning of temple and columbarium; preparation of refreshments for social events related to services and other temple activities; management of luncheon gatherings after funerals, etc. The CRAFT CLUB meets each Tuesday from 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. in the social hall. Attendees work on quilts and other crafts to be sold at the annual bazaar and Obon. Annual activities include: hospital & care facility visitations; attending the Spring and the Fall Maui United BWA Assembly/Luncheon.

CHOIR: Practice sessions for the choir are presently on Friday evenings at 5:30 p.m. in the temple.

DHARMA SCHOOL: The children and the Dharma School teachers conduct the service program once a month, generally on the last Sunday. An annual event for the students and teachers is the picnic that is hosted by VIDSTA (Valley Isle Dharma School Teachers Association).

DHARMA STUDY: The intermediate study group meets once a month, on the last Tuesday, at 7:00 p.m. in the Office building. The newly formed beginner’s study group also meets once a month – with the date designated each month, to accommodate participants’ schedules. General public is welcome to attend study sessions. Call temple office – (808) 661-0640.

SHINKOKAI: This group is largely composed of ‘retirees’ who convene once a month for a short service, dharma message, and bento lunch in the social hall.

Contact Us
551 Wainee Street
Lahaina, Maui, HI 96761
Phone: (808) 661-0640
Postal address: P.O. Box 458; Lahaina, HI 96761