In 1930, Wailuku Hongwanji Japanese Language School required all male students to participate in some physical education activity. Sumo and judo were offered as electives. The male teachers all participated as instructors. Mr. Tadaichi Fukunaga, Reverend Shoten Matsubayashi, and Reverend Suijo Kabashima were primary instructors. Classes were held on Saturday mornings and in the evening during the week.
When attending Japanese Language School, students assembled in front of the classroom, in single file at arms length apart, when the bell rang. Although the classes were not segregated by gender, boys and girls lined up separately. Upon oral command, all students came to attention and bowed to the principal. The principal would make announcements and on the dismissal command, the students would march single file into the classrooms. Discipline and respect were emphasized in the classroom and more so in the judo dojo (practice hall). Students bowed as they entered the dojo and sat cross legged until the instructor entered, then sat up into a kneeling position.
Judo activities were suspended during World War II due to confiscation of the judo mats by the military. For some unknown reason, the mats at Lahaina Hongwanji were not confiscated, so some Wailuku Hongwanji judo students would take the Kahului Railroad bus to Lahaina on Sunday mornings to work out. Due to gasoline restrictions, travel was limited to daylight hours and the students had to finish their practice in time to take the last bus back to Wailuku.
After the war, it was very difficult to obtain judo mats from Japan because of strict import regu-lations. The temple, however, obtained mats in a unique manner. When the Japanese Navy re-started its cadet training program, ships would sail to Kahului Harbor and the cadets would per-form judo demonstrations dockside as part of a goodwill program. Wailuku Hongwanji judo students were invited to participate in these tournaments. After the tournaments, the temple ne-gotiated and obtained some of the judo mats that were used at the dock.
In 1959, judo instructors at Hongwanji temples throughout the State organized the Honpa Hongwanji Judo Federation. Mr. Masato Kawashima and Mr. Richard Uno of Wailuku Hongwanji were among the organizers of the Federation. Mr. Kawashima and Mr. Uno, as head instructors, took the judo classes to new heights. Children, both male and female, 6 years old and older were able to enroll in their basic exercise and basic movement classes.
In 2013, Wailuku Hongwanji Judo Club hosted the 54th Annual Honpa Hongwanji Judo Championships at the Baldwin High School Gymnasium. About 200 contestants from the Honpa Hongwanji Mission Judo clubs throughout the State, including Aiea Hongwanji Judo Club, Ha-waii Betsuin Judo Academy, Mililani Hongwanji Judo Club, Pearl City Hongwanji Judo Club, Hilo Hongwanji Judo Club, Kona Hongwanji Judo Club, Puna Hongwanji Judo Club, Makawao Hongwanji Judo Club, and Wailuku Hongwanji Judo Club participated in the event. The event consisted of team, kata, and individual competitions, and culminated with an awards banquet.
Today, Mr. Herbert Kogasaka, serves as head instructor. Classes are held on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. The local high schools have incorporated judo into their student athletic program and many Wailuku Hongwanji Judo Club members have been recruited to head or assist in their programs. Judo Club members support the temple by providing manpower and assistance with temple activities.