Hello Friends and Family,

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Maui: Lahaina Jodo Mission

[Ed. note: much of the today's text is from the Mission's website — their words are better than any I could offer.]

The Lahaina Jodo Mission was founded in 1912 with the support of many Japanese immigrants then working in the sugar and pineapple plantations. After the original temple was destroyed in a fire in 1968, the members of the Mission decided to build a Japanese style Buddhist temple on the beachfront property that provided an idyllic setting.

The 12-feet tall copper and bronze statue of Amida Buddha is the largest of its kind outside Japan. It was cast in Kyoto, Japan, from 1967 to 1968, and weighs approximately three and a half tons. The Great Buddha was completed in June 1968, as a commemorative project for the Centennial Celebration of the first Japanese immigrants to arrive in Hawaii.



The mission grounds is a photographer's delight. I have shared some photos from this spot in previous LAHP issues. But with my newish Nikon D800, I wanted to redo some of the photos to see what an increase in pixel count can accomplish.


On the raised platform supporting the Great Buddha, is a pair of elaborate lamps.


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

The first three rings signify the following:
• I go to the Buddha for guidance
• I go to the Dharma (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
• Right Meditation


Made of bronze, the temple bell weighs approximately 3,000 pounds. On one side (the ocean side), are the words Imin Hyakunen no Kane (The Centennial Memorial Bell for the First Japanese Immigrants to Hawaii) cast in Chinese characters. On the other side are the characters Namu Amida Butsu, which means "Save me, oh, Amida Buddha."

On New Years Eve the 108 Bell Ringing rite (Joya no kane) is observed to dispel our bonno, or evil passions.


The Pagoda, or Temple Tower, is approximately 90 feet high at its tallest point. The covering of the roof is made of pure copper. The first floor of the pagoda contains niches to hold the urns of deceased members.


The grounds include a number of golden shower trees and rainbow shower trees. They are quite similar except that the later has more variety of pigmentation in the blossoms. They bloom in the spring and into the summer — the blossoms being so profuse that sometimes it is hard to see the leaves.

Here they provide the perfect framing for variety in the images captured by the photographer — compare this image to the previous one and the following one — then pick your favorite.


According to Buddhist legend, when Sakyamuni Buddha entered Nirvana, his body was cremated at Kusinara. Seven of the neighboring rulers, under the leadership of King Ajatasattu, demanded the ashes be divided among them. At first, the king refused their demands and a dispute ensued, threatening to end in war. But a wise man named Dona intervened and the crisis passed. The ashes were divided and enshrined in eight great stupas in India. The ashes of the funeral pyre and the earthen jar that contained the remains were given to two other rulers to be likewise honored. Because of the enshrinements, followers came to worship and pay homage to these stupas, also called pagodas, which later became a symbol of the spiritual image of the Buddha.


The present temple stands on the exact spot of the former temple building. The new structure was built in 1970 by traditional Japanese carpenters with the help of our members and friends. Lahaina Jodo Mission is a unique Buddhist temple with its architectural structure that blends Japanese and Western styles.

One of the most interesting features is the solid copper shingles that cover the rooftops of both the Temple and the Pagoda. All the shingles were individually hand-made and are interlocked on all four sides, forming a solid copper sheeting. Also, the traditional construction of the wooden beams allows the pieces to interlock without the use of nails.


Inside the temple, five outstanding Buddhist paintings adorn the walls. These were painted in 1974 by the renowned Japanese artist Iwasaki Hajin. In later years, Mr. Iwasaki painted beautiful floral ceiling paintings and produced two paintings depicting the dream of Saint Honen (1133-1212) meeting the Chinese Pure Land Master Shantao (613-681).


Across the street from the mission stands the Pu‘upiha Cemetery. One initial impression is that it is not very well maintained due to the sand from the beach blowing around the gravestones. But then you notice the number of flowers and leis placed in memory of the deceased — which tells a different story.


Some of these gravestones are quite old. I expect that efforts will have to be made in the not-too-distant future to relocate the graves since the cemetery is only a few feet above sea level.

Life is good.

Aloha,
B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com