Honpa Hongwanji of Hawaii Betsuin

1727 Pali Highway
Honolulu, HI 96813
Website: hawaiibetsuin.org


Description of Organization:

Honpa Hongwanji Hawai`i Betsuin is the oldest and largest Buddhist temple in Hawaii. The mission of Honpa Hongwanji Hawai`i is to enrich people with a life of gratitude, harmony, and peace. Hawaii Betsuin shares Buddhist teachings by:

• Offering Amida Buddha’s Teachings of wisdom and compassion through religious services, classes, and programs
• Creating a safe, welcoming, and aesthetically supportive environment to nurture religious development
• Caring for people by tending to their spiritual, physical, and emotional needs
• Providing education guided by Buddhist values
• Creating programs and Services:
Dharma Light Project – Adult education classes and programs on general and Shin Buddhism for those new to Buddhist concepts and those who wish to renew their studies of Buddha’s teachings.

Grant(s) Awarded

In 2024, a Women in Buddhism grant in the amount of $10,000 was awarded to support the spread and cultivate future Buddhist women leaders by doing extensive biographical research leading to publications,and acknowledgement of their roles. This will be accomplished through ceremonies, programs, and curriculum development to be taught in temples and affiliated schools. The program involves celebrating the life of Mary Mikahala, the primary advisor to the last reigning monarch. The program involves annual temple and school events, including visiting her gravesite on her birthday. In partnership with the University of Hawai`i there is a plan to build comprehensive biographical profiles of Buddhist women leaders with the additional intent of recognizing other historical Buddhist women leaders through renovation and renaming of various spaces with plaques and other insignia on walls and adjacent locations.

In 2022, a grant in the amount of $10,000 was awarded to support a Strategic Planning Event to address the financial issues facing the Betsuin. Financial issues have arisen as a result of decreasing membership. When Betsuin was officially dedicated in 1918 it had a congregation of 10,000, composed almost exclusively of Japanese immigrants. In a little over a century that number has dwindled to around 600. In the last 15 years statewide Honpa Hongwanji of Hawaii membership has declined over 40% and is on a trajectory to disappear in 14 years, or by 2036. Because of the median age of their members, shrinkage is now occurring at an exponential rate. The Japanese American population in Hawaii, once the State’s largest ethnic group, is quickly disappearing as elders pass, offspring intermarry and grow detached from the temple, and move away from the islands. Board Members were solicited for their input on the Strategic Planning Event planning process and structure and decided to involve a contingent of younger, millennial affiliates to participate in pre-plnning events. Cristina Moon, Priest with Chojen-Ji Temple, has agreed to conduct the facilitation, report development, and implementation plan. A variety of tentative areas and associated plans will be discussed.