Temple History

A need for spiritual and religious guidance for the immigrants from Japan was discerned by a group of young Japanese women and men. With the assistance of the Reverend Seiya Kai of Wailuku Hongwanji, they organized the Fujinkai (Buddhist Women’s Association) in Kahului in August of 1910. In November of 1911, the Kahului Fukyojo was started, again with the help of Reverend Kai. The Fukyojo was affiliated with Wailuku Hongwanji Mission.

In 1911, a temple was erected in the area presently occupied by the Maui Clinic. The group elected its first president, Zenroku Onishi.  Several years later, in 1926, this temple was relocated to another site in Kahului on the corner of what is now Kamehameha Avenue and Puunene Avenue (former site of the Kahului Garage).

In March of 1953, a parcel of land was purchased to serve a growing population within the Kahului “Dream City” area for the purpose of expanding the facilities of the Kahului Hongwanji Mission. The temple structures were relocated to the purchased parcel in December of 1953.

After 47 years as an affiliate of Wailuku Hongwanji Mission, Kahului Hongwanji Mission attains independent status authorized by Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii headquarters in Honolulu.

In October of 1967, a new Temple and Columbarium structure was built, replacing the older wooden temple and social hall structures. The buildings were designed by Arthur Kohara AIA, a distinguished Architect in the State of Hawaii and long time member of Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii, serving in various leadership capacities.  The general contractor was Tadaichi Fukunaga, Fuku Construction Company of Wailuku, namesake for the Tadaichi Fukunaga Award given annually at each Maui Hongwanji Temple.  Dedication ceremonies were held for the new Temple and Altar in 1968.

In October of 1972, Puunene Hongwanji merged with Kahului Hongwanji.  Puunene Hongwanji Mission served the Puunene community for 62 years before this merger.  The plantation villages in the Puunene area were being closed by HC&S, the cane sugar plantation.  A Bodhi tree sappling was taken from the Puunene Hongwanji Mission Bodhi tree and planted on the front lawn of Kahului Hongwanji Mission as a symbolic gesture of this merger.

The Kahului Hongwanji Mission Nursery and Day Care Center (today’s Pre-School) was started in 1975, occupying the existing three classroom Japanese language school building that was no longer operating.  In 1978, a small multi-purpose addition was constructed next to the classroom building to provide additional space for activities.  This addition was later named Lumbini Hall.