You are here

Pearl City Honpa Hongwanji Temple

-A A +A
1938. 858 2nd St., Pearl City

A handsome integration of Japanese forms with plantation construction techniques, intact Buddhist temples such as this have almost disappeared from Oahu. The bold, front-facing irimoya roof and its repetition in the kōhai is a configuration commonly found in Hawaii. Set on a stone foundation, the single-walled building, with three pairs of two-by-two, double-hung sash windows, follows a rectangular floor plan. The nave was expanded by the removal of the front sliding doors and the enclosure of the front lanai with shōji-like panels. The naijin's golden altars were made in Japan, as were the hand-carved ramma. The latter, with their birds amidst the clouds, present images of the heavenly, serene Pure Land. The cusp-arched shōji at the corners of the naijin maintain the Japanese character while recalling the imagery set forth by Bishop Imamura at the Honpa Hongwanji (OA80). The nave's ceiling is made of canec, a fiberboard made from bagasse, which is the stalk that remains after the juice is crushed out of sugar cane. Developed between 1926 and 1930 by the Hawaiian Cellulose Company with the support of the Hawaii Sugar Planters' Association, canec was produced by Hawaii Cane Products in Hilo from 1932 to 1963. Although primarily used for interior walls and ceilings, as here, it was employed as an exterior wall covering in some houses; it is resistant to termites.

This congregation was founded in 1905. The present building replaced the earlier temple which burned in 1936; members of the temple provided the labor.

Writing Credits

Don J. Hibbard


What's Nearby


Don J. Hibbard, "Pearl City Honpa Hongwanji Temple", [Pearl City, Hawaii], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Hawaii

Buildings of Hawaii, Don J. Hibbard. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2011, 181-182.

If SAH Archipedia has been useful to you, please consider supporting it.

SAH Archipedia tells the story of the United States through its buildings, landscapes, and cities. This freely available resource empowers the public with authoritative knowledge that deepens their understanding and appreciation of the built environment. But the Society of Architectural Historians, which created SAH Archipedia with University of Virginia Press, needs your support to maintain the high-caliber research, writing, photography, cartography, editing, design, and programming that make SAH Archipedia a trusted online resource available to all who value the history of place, heritage tourism, and learning.