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Religious Buildings of Honolulu Self-Guided Tour (Self Guided), Honolulu

Religion in Hawaii is a mix of Christianity, Buddhism and native religions. This is the reason why diverse religious structures, such as shrines or catholic churches can be seen everywhere in Honolulu. Since 1820, the Christian missionaries and Chinese began to popularize their religion and traditions. Nowadays, the ancient Hawaiian religions have almost disappeared. Take this walking tour and enjoy the religious sights of Honolulu, both modern and historic.
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Religious Buildings of Honolulu Self-Guided Tour Map

Guide Name: Religious Buildings of Honolulu Self-Guided Tour
Guide Location: USA » Honolulu (See other walking tours in Honolulu)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 7
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.3 Km or 2.1 Miles
Author: helenp
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Kawaiahao Church
  • Saint Andrew's Cathedral
  • Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace
  • Izumo Taishakyo Mission
  • Harris United Methodist Church
  • Hawaii Chinese Buddhist Society
  • Honpa Hongwanji Mission
1
Kawaiahao Church

1) Kawaiahao Church

Kawaiahao Church is known as Hawaii's Westminster Abbey. It was, at one point, the national church of the Kingdom of Hawaii, and the personal chapel for the Hawaiian royal family. It is Hawaii's oldest standing Christian religious building, even though the current building is not the original structure. Four smaller, thatched churches stood on the site of the current Kawaiahao Church, which is built of coral rock.

The name “Kawaiahao” comes from a Hawaiian phrase meaning “the water of Hao.” This refers to the fact that the site was originally a spring and small freshwater pool, which was under the care of High Chiefess Hao.

Kawaiahao Church was commissioned during the reigns of Kings Kamehameha II and III. It was designed by Reverend Hiram Bingham, to mimic the style of Hawaiian missionaries. The coral rock used in its construction has to be quarried by hand, a process which required highly trained divers to dive up to 18 feet below sea level to cut out the stone slabs by hand. The slabs then had to be transported from under the sea to the shore, then to the site of the church.

It was at Kawaiahao Church that King Kamehameha III said the phrase “The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness,” which became Hawaii's official motto.
Sight description based on wikipedia
2
Saint Andrew's Cathedral

2) Saint Andrew's Cathedral

Saint Andrew's Cathedral is an Episcopal Cathedral that originally served as the seat of the Anglican Church of Hawaii.

During the Victorian Era, King Kamehameha IV and his Queen Consort, Emma, were members of the Anglican Church led by Queen Victoria. In fact, the royal couple was so close to the British Queen, she was named the godmother of their son, Albert. Kamehameha IV was inspired to build an Anglican place of worship in his own country, so he commissioned Saint Andrew's Cathedral, and donated part of the Royal Garden as the site. Unfortunately, the king passed away before the ground-breaking could commence, leaving his brother, Kamehameha V, to take over the project. The Queen traveled to England to purchase building materials, commission architects, and handle the practical matters of building the church.

The building itself was created from several pre-fabricated pieces shipped from England. It was built in the French Gothic stye, and features some very unique stained glass work. One window features an image of Jesus on a surfboard, as well as images of European explorers that visited Hawaii. Another features the Hawaiian King and Queen, Sanford B. Dole (a lawyer and jurist in Hawaii, as well as a friend of the royal family), and Bishop Thomas N. Staley.
3
Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace

3) Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace

The Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace is one of the few cathedrals in Hawaii. It is the Mother Church of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Honolulu, and was build during Hawaii's missionary era. It was completed in August, 1843. When Libert Boeynaems inherited the church, he envisioned it as a grand Gothic cathedral, akin to those in Europe. Under his auspices, the church's first renovation occurred. An elaborate porch was build on the facade, the wooden spire was stripped down and a concrete bell tower put up in its place. These changes didn't last, however, and Stephen Alencastre stripped the Gothic accoutrements as soon as he assumed the episcopacy in 1926. He was the one who established the church's current style.

The ground-breaking for the Cathedral didn't come easily. For many years, the Roman Catholics on Hawaii were persecuted by powerful Congregational and Presbyterian ministers who were close to the royal family. Finally, the Hawaiian government issues an Edict of Toleration, and King Kamehameha III gave the Roman Catholic missionaries a parcel of land to build on. The building is a Romanesque cathedral, built out of blocks of coral stone, and adorned with acacia koa, marble, plaster, and terra cotta. There are seventeen stained glass designs, statues of saints, and many pieces of religious art worth seeing, for Catholics and non-Catholics alike.
Sight description based on wikipedia
4
Izumo Taishakyo Mission

4) Izumo Taishakyo Mission

The site of the Izumo Taishakyo Mission has been a Shinto shrine since the early 1900s. Unfortunately, anti-Japanese sentiment during World War II led to a serious crackdown on Shintoism. As a result, the mission was seized by the city of Honolulu during the war, and was not allowed to reopen until 1968.

Today, the Izumo Taishakyo Mission is one of the few Shinto shrines operating in the United States. The A-frame building was inspired by the design of the Taisha Machi, a classical Japanese Shrine located in Shimane Prefecture, Japan.

The primary deity, or kami, of this shrine is Okuninushi-no Mikoto (which literally translates to “Great Land Master”), the kami of happiness, medicine, farming, marriage, and agriculture. Visitors must wash their hands at the edge of the temple grounds, and sound a brass bell to let the spirits know they are there. Then, at the entrance, visitors should bow twice, clap twice, bow again, and make an offering of coins to the collection box on the ground. The mission is also the site of a traditional New Year's Day pilgrimage by Shinto Buddhists. As many as ten thousand visitors, both Buddhists and non-Buddhists, arrive at the mission for that day.
5
Harris United Methodist Church

5) Harris United Methodist Church

Harris United Methodist Church was built in 1888. It was founded by the Japanese community for its members. Formerly, the community had a church on River Street. Until 1888 it was moved several times to different locations in the downtown area. However, during this time, the congregation grew larger and, nowadays, Japanese-speaking people and other ethnic groups all pray at Harris United Methodist Church.
6
Hawaii Chinese Buddhist Society

6) Hawaii Chinese Buddhist Society

The Hawaii Chinese Buddhist Society is located near the Consulate-General of Japan in Honolulu. It represents a true Buddhist temple, having an extremely elaborate design with many embellishments. For the Chinese Buddhist society in Honolulu it is the ultimate place to pray.
7
Honpa Hongwanji Mission

7) Honpa Hongwanji Mission

The Honpa Hongwanji Mission is a district of Jodo Shinshu Buddhism, which was established in Hawaii with the immigration of Japanese workers to Hawaii's sugarcane plantations. This is a school of Mahayana Pure Land Buddhism, which originated in India. Mahayana Buddhism is the larger of two major Buddhist traditions, though its origins are not well-documented or completely understood. The Jodo Shinshu school was created by Shinran Shonin, a Japanese Buddhist monk who lived from 1173 to 1263.

The first Hongwanji temple was dedicated as early as 1889. Eight years later, Japan began sending ministers to establish more temples for Japanese people living in Hawaii and the remainder of the United States. Honpa Hongwanji Betsuin is located in Honolulu, on Pali Highway. It features a large, gilded central altar with an image of Amida Buddha. Amida Buddha is dedicated to liberating all sentient beings, so that they may attain enlightenment. The Buddha is depicted as standing, to show that he is actively working towards the goal of helping all living things reach enlightenment.

In 1976, Paul Yamanaka and the Mission created a program called “Living Treasures of Hawaii,” which is dedicated to recognizing people who have reached high standards of achievement in their particular fields, and have made significant humanitarian contributions.

Walking Tours in Honolulu, Hawaii

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