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A Jodo temple is built to celebrate Jodo Shinshu, also known as Shin Buddhism. This is a sect of Buddhism that was founded in the twelfth century by a Japanese monk. It is a form of pure land Buddhism that is the major sect of the Buddhist practice in Japan. Loosely translated as serene trust, it denotes supreme faith in the power and wisdom of the Buddha. There are a number of Buddhist temples in Maui, built by followers of the practice who were brought from Japan, China, and other Asian countries to work in the sugar plantations of the Hawaiian islands in the 1800s. The Jodo Shinshu Temple in historic Lahaina is a newer temple, built by the Lahaina Jodo Mission in the late 1960s.
It is not the only Jodo Temple in Maui (there is another in Kahului), but it is the most authentic recreation of a Japanese temple complex in the islands. Many people visiting Lahaina concentrate only on the history museums and the bustling waterfront of the former whaling town. They might miss this Jodo Temple, which is one of the loveliest attractions on the island. It is located a little north of the downtown area on Puunoa Point, overlooking the ocean and the nearby islands of Molokai, Lanai, and Kahoolwae. Behind it is the backdrop of the beautiful West Maui Mountain Range.
You can also visit the Wo Hing Temple in Lahaina, which is a museum and a Chinese Buddhist temple. Other Japanese temples in Maui include those in Makawao, Wailuku, and Paia. The famous Jodo Temple in Maui bell and the great statue of the Buddha were completed in 1968 to mark the centennial of the arrival of the first immigrants from Japan. The main pagoda, an extraordinarily graceful and elegant temple tower with three symmetrical tiers and standing about 90 feet high, and main Jodo Temple building were built in 1970. Solid copper shingles, a very authentic touch, cover the roofs of both buildings. These shingles were individually hand-cast and interlock on all four sides, giving the appearance of a solid sheet of copper. The Jodo Shinshu Temple building replaces an earlier wooden structure that burned down in 1968, and it was designed to be true to the temple structures of old Japan.
The temple bell of the Jodo Shinshu Temple is the largest in the state of Hawaii. The largest in the United States is at the International Buddhist Meditation Center in Los Angeles. The Jodo Temple bell is made of bronze and copper, and it weighs more than 3,000 pounds. It is rung eleven times each evening at eight o’clock. The Jodo Temple in Maui has a statue of the Buddha, as do all Buddhist temples. The statue of Amida Buddha is the largest statue of its kind found outside of Japan. Cast in Kyoto Japan, it is twelve feet high and weighs three and a half tons. It, too, was completed in time for the Centennial Celebration. Inside the temple building are five beautiful Buddhist paintings, plus an exquisitely painted floral ceiling—all painted by a noted Japanese artist in 1974.
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