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Hawaii Shingon Mission

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Hawaii Shingon Mission
U.S. National Register of Historic Places
USA Hawaii location map
Red pog.svg
Nearest city: Honolulu, Hawaii
Coordinates: 21°17′5″N 157°50′57″W / 21.28472°N 157.84917°W / 21.28472; -157.84917Coordinates: 21°17′5″N 157°50′57″W / 21.28472°N 157.84917°W / 21.28472; -157.84917
Built/Founded: 1918, 1929
Architect: Hego Fuchino
Architectural style(s): Japanese
Governing body: Private
Added to NRHP: 26 April 2002
NRHP Reference#: 02000386[1]

Hawaii Shingon Mission at 915 Sheridan Street in Honolulu, Hawaii, is one of the most elaborate displays of Japanese Buddhist temple architecture in Hawaiʻi. It was first built in 1917-18 by Nakagawa Katsutaro, a master builder of Japanese-style temples, then renovated in 1929 by Hego Fuchino, a self-taught man who was the first person of Japanese ancestry to become a licensed architect in the Islands. The building underwent further changes in 1978, and was considerably augmented in 1992. However, its most distinctive features remain: the steep, hipped-gable roof (irimoya) with rounded-gable projection, both with elaborate carvings on the ends, and the glittering altar and interior furnishings from Japan that signify its ties to esoteric Shingon Buddhism, headquartered at Mount Kōya. The temple was added to the National Register of Historic Places on 26 April 2002,[2] on the 100th anniversary of the construction of a new teaching hall for Shingon Buddhism in Lahaina, Maui.[3]

The round tomoe at the top of the entrance roof represents the cycle of life, the carved phoenix represents death and rebirth, and the carved dragons represent both power and good fortune. The obelisk at the front edge of the property commemorates the first Shingon pilgrimage to Japan by immigrants in Hawaii in 1929. The more recently added statue in front depicts Kōbō Daishi (Kūkai, 774-835 CE), the founder of Shingon.[2] An oil painting of the Daishi by a member of the local congregation also graces the altar inside the temple.[3]

The Sheridan Street temple was once the leader among 15 Hawaiʻi congregations of Shingon. But, after the average age of its parishioners began to approach 80, longtime church director Reyn Tsuru began an outreach program to bring in new members. In 2004, the congregation agreed to sever ties with Kongōbuji, Shingon's home temple on Koyasan, after becoming dissatisfied with the sect's hierarchical structure and its Japanese priests unfamiliar with local ways. By 2008, Tsuru became the official minister as well as church director, and the average age of the parishioners had dropped to 45. In 2009, the temple added a worship service in English, and planned on a slow transition to primarily English services.[4]



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