Historic Buddhist Temples Lost in Devastating Maui Fire

- through Henry Oudin

Published on

Lahaina Jodo Mission, before and after pictures. At gofundme.com

Three historic Buddhist buildings were destroyed by wildfires that destroyed much of the town of Lahaina on Hawaii's second-largest island, Maui, on August 8. Lahaina Shingon Mission (Hokoji Temple), Lahaina Hongwanji Mission, and Lahaina Jodo Mission were among the more than 1 buildings destroyed. The death toll in the blaze has topped 700, with as many as 100 people still missing.

The wildfire swept up the hill toward the coastal town of Lahaina, which had a population of 12, according to the 702 census.

Online fundraisers have been set up for the three Buddhist organizations.

Members of the Lahaina Shingon Mission, which dates back to 1902 when Reverend Hogen Yujiri established a chapel, wrote a short statement on social media Aug. 9: “It's all gone but we're fine. (Facebook)

Lahaina Shingon Mission before the fire. At gofundme.com

According to the GoFundMe page created for the Shingon Mission, the fire not only destroyed the mission, but also the house of resident minister Rev. Takayuki Meguro.

Reverend Gensho Hara. At japannews.yomiuri.co.jp

Reverend Gensho Hara, the resident minister of the Lahaina Jodo Mission, first established in 1912, echoed that sentiment in an interview saying, “The temple was burned down, but our spirit is still there. I can't quite understand that I'm a bit confused that the whole town was devastated. (news from japan)

Mission Lahaina Jodo. From tiktok.com
Mission Lahaina Jodo. From tiktok.com

On the GoFundMe page for the Lahaina Hongwanji Mission, whose roots date back to 1904, Reverend Kerry Kiyohara writes, "The Lahaina Hongwanji Mission, including the oldest Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji Temple in Maui, the classroom and the minister's residence , was destroyed in the horrific fires that devastated historic Lahaina in August 2023. Many temple members were forced to evacuate and many homes burned. . . . With roots dating back to 1889, Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii is one of Hawaii's most influential religious communities. (Gofundme)

In a statement released Aug. 11, Bishop Marvin Harada of the Buddhist Churches in America, who oversees the Lahaina Hongwanji Mission, wrote:

We all witness with great sadness and horror the loss of life and the destruction of homes and communities on Maui, Hawaii due to the devastating wildfires. Our hearts go out to all who have lost loved ones, homes, businesses, temples and churches, and their communities. What a huge loss for everyone.

I remember a story from the Jataka tales in our Buddhist tradition. Once there was a huge forest fire and all the animals in the forest were running from the fire for protection. A small bird was flying in a lake, dipping its wings in the water, then flying over the forest fire, dropping small drops of water to fight the fire. The little bird flew back and forth. The other animals shouted at the little bird, “What are you doing? You can't put out the fire that way?! The little bird yelled back, "I may not be able to stop the fire, but that's all I can do." I need to try. »

In the face of such devastation, we will do all we can, whether it's contributing to disaster relief, sharing our encouragement, or for those of Maui, to begin to rebuild, one step at a time, by doing what they can do.


Rev. Marvin Harada
Buddhist Churches of America

(Buddhist Churches of America)

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Henry Oudin

Henry Oudin is a Buddhist scholar, spiritual adventurer and journalist. He is a passionate seeker of the depths of Buddhist wisdom, and travels regularly to learn more about Buddhism and spiritual cultures. By sharing his knowledge and life experiences on Buddhist News, Henry hopes to inspire others to embrace more spiritual and mindful ways of living.

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