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Maui: Last Day, Part 1

When I started my trip to Hawai`i, four weeks seemed like a good amount of time to be there. However, when my final day on Maui arrived, I could not believe it — I wasn't ready to leave. The only consolation was that I still had a few days on Lana`i to look forward to before returning to the mainland.

So, with heavy heart, I decided to visit Lahaina town and take a few photos of landmarks — many of which I have photographed before, although some not recently. One of those landmarks is the Lahaina Jodo Mission. It is found on the north side of Lahaina, situated on prime oceanfront real estate. As you drive along Front Street the "JESUS COMING SOON" sign (obviously not related to the mission) tells you where to turn to find the mission.

This site, called Pu`unoa Point, was considered sacred by the Hawaiians. The present temple grounds have been dedicated to all our ancestors who have passed away.

The current mission is still an active Buddhist mission, founded in 1912. The original temple was destroyed by fire in 1968. The pagoda (pictured here) was built in 1970 and stands some 90 feet tall. The first floor contains niches for holding the urns containing the remains of loved ones.

One of my favorite photos I have ever taken was shot here — of the golden shower tree in full bloom with the pagoda in the background. Unfortunately, the tree was not in bloom at this time so my special shot could not be replicated digitally. The original was shot on film and when I get a chance, that will be added to my web site for possible sale.

The Temple Bell was added in 1968 and is rung eleven times each evening at 8:00 pm. If you look closely, you can see a large horizontal piece of wood extended into the shadows behind the bell. The wood is suspended by ropes and can be moved by one or more participants by simply swinging it away from the bell then back on the downswing. The design is much different than the Western design where a clapper is hung inside the bell and is moved to strike the bell or the bell is moved to strike the clapper.

The Great Buddha sits serenely in mediation and extends that serenity to the entire mission grounds. This buddha is some 12 feet tall and is supposedly the largest of its kind outside Japan, weighing in at three and a half tons. It was added to the temple grounds in 1968 to mark the 100th anniversary of the arrival of Japanese workers for the cane fields.

Feel free to take a closer look but please try to maintain the serenity of the Great Buddha.

This is the rebuilt temple (after the 1968 fire), standing on the same spot as the original. It was built using traditional Japanese construction techniques by Japanese carpenters with help from members and friends of the mission.

The interior is exquisite with gold objects and gold leaf everywhere. We were not permitted to enter — a pity really, because I understand I missed several outstanding Buddhist paintings by renown Japanese artist Iwasaki Hajin adorning the temple walls.

Nearby is the remains of the Mala Wharf. It was constructed in 1922 to provide a means for steamship passengers to embark and disembark without having to switch to smaller craft as was required in Lahaina at the time. As I understand the story, older locals told the Army Corps of Engineers that this was a lousy spot to place a wharf. Of course, the "haoles" knew better and built it here anyway. But the locals were right — the heavy surf and strong currents make it next to impossible for the inter-island steamers to tie up here successfully. In fact, it was apparently used for that purpose only one time.

However, it continued to be used for smaller craft until it was abandoned in 1950. With the heavy surf and lack of maintenance it has continued to deteriorate as you can see in the next two photos.

There are fences to prevent people from going out on the wharf — since an accident would be inevitable — naturally resulting in a lawsuit against the county. However, it remains a popular snorkeling spot — I just hope no one gets struck by a chunk of falling concrete.

On the beach, some folks were feeding the birds with leftover bread. I have always loved these particular birds — obviously cardinals but until this year, I never knew their proper name. They are Brazilian red-crested Cardinals and they are everywhere in Hawai`i. Incidentally, they are actually originally from Brazil.

More fauna — of the Crustacean variety. I counted nine of these black crabs in this photo, enlarged to help you spot them too. I have always marveled at this adaptation — black crabs on black rocks would obviously be much harder for predators to spot than any other combination.

To be continued...

Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc.