Exploring Lahaina Jodo Mission in Lahaina, Maui

The Great Buddha at the Lahaina Jodo Mission in Historic Lahaina, Maui

 Tripsavvy / John Fischer

Many people who visit the island of Maui, make it a point to visit the historic whaling town of Lahaina. Much of their exploration, however, is confined to the waterfront areas and the historic sites nearby.

Lahaina Jodo Mission

Located away from downtown Lahaina to the north on Ala Moana Street, you can find the Lahaina Jodo Mission. This mission is one of the most beautiful and serene places in Hawaii and one which should not be missed.

Years ago, the members of the Lahaina Jodo Mission conceived the idea of building an authentic Buddhist Temple, complemented with the symbolic surroundings that are typical of the great Buddhist temples in Japan.

The great Buddha and the Temple Bell were completed in June 1968, in commemoration of the Centennial Celebration of the first ​Japanese immigrants to Hawaii. In 1970, the main Temple and Pagoda were built with the generous and wholehearted support of the members of the mission and the general public.

The property is owned by the Lahaina Jodo Mission. The task of maintaining as well as improving the premises is dependent on voluntary contributions.

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The Temple

Miguel Gallardo / TripSavvy

The temple is located on Puunoa Point, Lahaina, overlooking the islands of Molokai, Lanai, and Kahoʻolawe. The Lahaina Jodo Mission is a beautiful Buddhist temple with unique Buddhist architectural structures. The old wooden temple which stood exactly where the new one stands now burned to the ground in 1968. The new structure was built in 1970 and the design is in all ways authentic and true to the traditions of old Japan.

One of the interesting features is the solid copper shingles which cover the roof of both temple and pagoda. All of these shingles were individually formed by hand and are interlocked on all four sides so as to make a solid copper sheathing.

Paintings of Hajin Iwasaki

Inside the temple, five outstanding Buddhist paintings adorn the walls. They were painted in 1974 by Hajin Iwasaki, a noted Japanese artist. In later years, the beautiful floral ceiling paintings were added by the same artist.  

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The Great Buddha

Miguel Gallardo / TripSavvy

The statue of the Amida Buddha is the largest of its kind outside Japan. It was cast in Kyoto, Japan during 1967-1968. It is made of copper and bronze, stands 12 feet high and weighs approximately three and one-half tons. 

The Great Buddha was completed in June 1968, just in time for the Centennial Celebration which commemorated the immigration of the first Japanese to Hawaii 100 years prior.

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The Pagoda

Miguel Gallardo / TripSavvy

The Pagoda, or Temple Tower, is about 90 feet high at its tallest point. The roof's covering is made of pure copper. The first floor of the pagoda contains niches to hold the urns of beloved ones. Also, a small altar is enshrined there.

The original word for "pagoda" in Sanskrit was "stupa". The story goes as follows - Under the supervision of Anada, the Buddha's favorite disciple, Buddha's body was cremated by his friends in Kusinara Castle. Seven of the neighboring rulers, under the leadership of King Ajatasatthu, demanded that the ashes be divided among them. The King of Kusinara Castle at first refused and a dispute followed which threatened to end in war, but by the advise of a wise man named Dona, the crisis passed and the ashes were divided and buried under eight great stupas. The ashes of the funeral pyre and the earthen jar that contained the remains wee given to two other rulers to be likewise honored. Because of the enshrinements, the followers came to worship and pay homage to the Pagoda, which to them was the spiritual image of the great Buddha. 

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The Temple Bell

Miguel Gallardo / TripSavvy

This is the largest temple bell in the State of Hawaii. Made of bronze, it weighs approximately 3,000 pounds. One one side (ocean side), written in Chinese characters, are the words "Imin Hyakunen No Kane" The Centennial Memorial Bell for the First Japanese Immigrants to Hawaii.

On the other side, in similar characters are the words, "Namu Amida Butsu" - the Jodo "Prayer". The small engraved characters are names of many donors, both living and deceased, who have unselfishly given their time and effort for the Mission as well as monetary gifts toward the completion of the Bell Tower.

Evening RIngs

At the Lahaina Jodo Mission, this bell is rung eleven times each evening at 8 o'clock.

The first three rings symbolize the following:

I go to the Buddha for guidance; I go to the Dhamma (the teaching of the Buddha) for guidance; I go to the Sangha (Brotherhood) for guidance.

The next eight rings represent the Eight-Fold Pathway to Righteousness:

Right, Understanding; Right Purpose; Right Speech; Right Conduct; Right Livelihood; Right Endeavor; Right Thought; and Right Meditation.

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