Upon entering a Japanese Buddhist temple in Hawai'i, most people - whether first-time visitors or lifelong members - are overwhelmed by the elaborate and complex display of golden ornaments, intricately carved altar tables and incense burners, and images of venerable masters and bodhisattvas. These objects, as well as the architectural elements of the temple itself, have meanings that are often hidden in ancient symbolisms. This book, written by two local authorities on Japanese art and religion, provides a thorough yet accessible overview of Buddhism in Hawai'i followed by a temple-by-temple guide to the remaining structures across the state. Introductory chapters cover the basic history, teachings, and practices of various denominations and the meanings of objects commonly found in temples. Taken together, they form a short primer on Buddhism in Japan and Hawai'i. The heart of the book is a narrative description of the ninety temples still extant in Hawai'i. Augmented by over 350 color photographs, each entry begins with historical background information and continues with descriptions of architecture, sanctuaries, statuary and ritual implements, columbariums, and grounds.
Appended at the end is a chart listing each temple's denomination, membership number, and architectural type. While many Buddhist temples in Hawai'i are active social and religious centers, a good number are in serious decline. In addition to being an introduction to Buddhism and a guide book, Japanese Buddhist Temples in Hawai'i is an indispensable historical record of what exists today and what may be gone tomorrow. It will appeal to temple members, pilgrims, residents, and tourists interested in local cultural and historic sites, and historians of Buddhism in Hawai'i.