Wailuku Hongwanji Mission was established in 1899 and our first resident minister was Reverend Hojun Kunisaki. Reverend Kunisaki passed away in 1900. Reverend Tessan Funakura was our second resident minister from 1900 to 1906. The first temple was built at the corner of Wells Street and Market Street in August 1902. In 1903, the Young Men’s Buddhist Association was formed, followed by the Wailuku Hongwanji Bukkyo Fujinkai in 1905. In 1906 the Gakuen or Japanese Language School was established on land leased to Reverend Funakura from Wailuku Sugar Company for next twenty years. Reverend Kenyu Arai was our third resident minister from 1906 to 1908. Reverend Kagetsu Shibata was our fourth resident minister and served from 1908 to 1909. From 1909 to 1912 Reverend Seiya Kai was our fifth resident minister. Reverend Chikyoku Kikuchi was our sixth resident minister and served from 1912 to 1914. Wailuku Hongwanji observed the 650th memorial service for Shinran Shonin in 1912.
From 1914 to 1918 our seventh resident minister was the Reverend Daisetsu Toda and the first Young Men Buddhist Association conference was held in Wailuku in 1916. Reverend Jyonen Nishiura was our eighth resident minister and served from 1918 to 1920. Our ninth resident minister was Reverend Seigai Matsuda who served from May to November of 1920. Reverend Gikyo Kuchiba became our tenth resident minister and held the 25th memorial service for our first minister, Reverend Kunisaki. In March 1926, the acting Chief Abbot Sonyu Ohtani visited Maui and conducted Affirmation Rites. Reverend Kuchiba served from 1920 to 1926. Reverend Yoshu Motoyoshi became our eleventh resident minister and in 1926 our temple’s newsletter, “Michi no Tomo” was started. In 1931, Wailuku Hongwanji Jr. YBA was established. Reverend Motoyoshi served from 1926 to 1933. Reverend Sokuzen Uehara became our 12th resident minister and served us from 1933 to 1934. Reverend Shoi Yamada became our thirteenth resident minister and served from 1934 to 1935. Reverend Gikai Harada became our fourteenth resident minister and served from 1935 to 1936. Reverend Hironori Nishii became our fifteenth resident minister and served from 1936 to 1938. Reverend Nishii activated the Judo Club in his first year of service at Wailuku Hongwanji. Reverend Mitsue Hamada, an associate minister, was the first English-speaking minister at Wailuku Hongwanji. She gave many young children a solid foundation in Buddhism through Sunday school. Reverend Gikai Harada became our fifteenth resident minister and served from 1935 to 1936. In 1937, the Kyodan Riji Kai was organized with the responsibility of temple and Gakuen affairs. Additionally, Boy Scout Troop 40 was established in 1937. Reverend Ryugen Matsuda became of sixteenth resident minister and served from 1938 to 1940. During this time, the Bodhi Club (women’s club) was initiated as well as the establishment of a Girl Scouts troop and a Gakuen for girls. Reverend Seikaku Takesono became our seventeenth resident minister and served us from 1940 to 1941. From 1941 to 1945 all ministers and many active leaders of the temple were interned at relocation centers during World War II.
In 1946, Reverend Yoshio Hino became our eighteenth resident minister and he reorganized the Riji Kai from each district. The Wailuku Hongwanji Mission’s constitution, by-laws, policy, rules and regulations were established. In 1947 the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and Judo Club were reactivated and the Gakuen was reopened in 1949. In 1952 the present temple and Nokotsu-do were constructed. This was the golden anniversary and a huge celebration was held to honor our members. In March, Abbot Kosho Ohtani and Lady Yoshiko Ohtani visited Maui and 425 members received confirmation rites. Reverend Hino served until 1952. Reverend Kodo Fujitani became our nineteenth resident minister and served us from 1952 to 1958. During this time, a new minister’s residence and Judo hall were completed (1954).
In 1956 Wailuku Hongwanji Roselani 4-H Club was organized. Reverend Yoshiaki Fujitani became our twentieth resident minister. He served us from 1958 to 1960. Reverend Shushin Kan became our twenty-first resident minister and served us from 1960 to 1961. Reverend Shoten Tamekuni became our twenty-second resident minister and Wailuku Hongwanji celebrated its 65th anniversary and held the 700th memorial observance for Shinran Shonin in 1964.
In 1968 the Rakuen Club for senior citizens was started. Reverend Tamekuni served us from 1961 to 1968. Reverend Norito Nagao became our twenty-third resident minister and served us from 1968 to 1975. In 1969 the dedication of the nursery and daycare center was held. In 1974, Abbot Kosho Ohtani and Lady Yoshiko Ohtani and Heir Apparent Reverend Koshin Ohtani visited Wailuku Hongwanji Mission. On May 26th a dedication ceremony of the bronze statue of Shinran Shonin, which was placed at the entrance of our temple, was held. Wailuku Hongwanji Mission also celebrated the 800th anniversary of Shinran Shonin’s birth, the 750th anniversary of Jodo Shinshu and the 85th anniversary of Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii. Reverend Thom Nakanishi became our twenty-fourth resident minister, serving us from 1975 to 1986. On October 1975, Wailuku Hongwanji Mission observed its 75th anniversary. Seventy-two new pews were donated by different families and installed at the temple. In 1980, the Dharma lecture series were started and Dr. Alfred Bloom was the first presenter. He spoke on the comparison of Buddhism and Christianity. In 1980, the Wailuku Hongwanji Fujinkai observed its 80th anniversary with Bishop Yoshiaki Fujitani as the officiator.
During the 1980’s the existing Gakuen classrooms and social hall building was renovated. Reverend Hiromi Kawaji became our twenty-fifth resident minister and he served from 1987 to 1995. Reverend Toyakazu Hagio became the twenty-sixth resident minister and he served from 1995 to 2002. During Reverend Hagio’s time, Wailuku Hongwanji observed its Centennial Commemoration Service. The Centennial projects included renovation of the temple and refurbishing of all altars. Reverend Toshio Murakami became the twenty-seventh resident minister and served from 2002 to 2004.
From 2004, the Reverend Shinkai Murakami became the twenty-eighth resident minister. In 2004, the Kyodan observed its 105th anniversary. Reverend Murakami reorganized the Japanese School curriculum and established the Japanese School Overseas Home-stay Program for Gakuen students. The Gakuen will be using computers for students to learn the Japanese language and have students communicate with the students in Japan. In 2005, the Wailuku Hongwanji Fujinkai Centennial Celebration was held with the acting Bishop Reverend Thomas Okano officiating with the assistance of Reverend Murakami and the Maui Hongwanji ministers. The Wailuku Hongwanji Fujinkai donated a huge electric organ to the Mission as their centennial gift.
On October 17th and 18th 2009, Wailuku Hongwanji observed its 110th Anniversary with Bishop Okano officiating, assisted by Reverend Murakami and the Maui ministers. Reverend Murakami applied to the Mayor of the County of Maui to have October 18, 2009 proclaimed as “Wailuku Hongwanji Day” in Maui. The Office of the Mayor accepted his request and October 18, 2009 was proclaimed at “Wailuku Hongwanji Day” on October 17th at the 110th Anniversary banquet. Additionally, a resolution was received from the Maui County Council in recognition of the Wailuku Hongwanji’s 110th Anniversary.
Separately, a number of projects were proposed by the 110th Anniversary Committee in celebration of the Mission’s anniversary. Some of the 110th Anniversary projects include: expanding the Nokotsu-do (240 extra niches), refurbishing the Nokotsu-do altar, building an elevator for the elderly people to assist in accessing the Nokotsu-do and church, installing a handicap ramp from the Nokotsu-do to the temple, replacing of kitchen floor area, repaving and striping entire court yard, refurbishing the existing restrooms for handicap access, 110th memorial Dharma lecture by Reverend Ronald Kobata of San Francisco Buddhist Church, as well as other projects. The Nokotsu-do expansion was a much anticipated project. The original Nokotsu-do was completed in the 1940’s and there was a need to provide additional niches for the Wailuku Hongwanji members and their families. In relation to the Nokotsu-do improvements and to provide easier access to the temple for church members, an elevator was added to the church building and a ramp was installed. These improvements were greatly appreciated by many of our members.
Additionally, the 110th Anniversary Committee planned a celebration which included the 110th memorial service and a banquet on Saturday, October 17th and a commemoration service and a Keirokai ceremony for temple members over 80 years old on Sunday, October 18th. Entertainment was provided by members of the Wailuku Hongwanji’s affiliate organizations such as the Gakuen, the Nursery School, choir and Judo.