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Waimea Shingon Mission comes together to help Maui

WAIMEA — If activity in the food ordering line was an indicator, the Waimea Shingon Mission food fundraiser on Sunday was a success.

“Items were being sold out even while we were waiting to order,” said Cheryl Shintani, who was chaperoning a pair of exchange students from the Yamaguchi University in Japan.

The fundraising effort was hosted to help the Lahaina Shingon Mission following the Aug. 8 wildfires on Maui that destroyed the 122-year-old temple and displaced the minister’s family.

“Right now, the Meguro family has gotten some help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency,” said Rev. Kohtoku Hirao of the Waimea Shington Mission. “They’re staying in Ka‘anapali. But that’s only until the end of September. We don’t know if they’ll continue to get help beyond that.”

Most of the main food offerings were sold out in the first half hour of the food sale that, similar to the bon season, drew on help from other Buddhist temples to man the stoves, prepare the food and service the customers.

The menu was based on the church’s bon dance offerings with many of the items not being available until the bon season.

“We didn’t know how much food to make,” said Patrick Watase of the Waimea Shingon Mission. “We based how much food on a Friday night bon dance that includes about 500 pieces of yakitori, and about 1,500 flying saucers. We didn’t do that much plate lunches, and we were able to put a team together to have about 500 andagi, too.”

Rev. Tomo Hojo, of the West Kaua‘i Hongwanji, was one of those helpers.

“I went to Maui after the fire that destroyed the Lahaina Hongwanji temple,” Hojo said. “We couldn’t get to the church in the burn zone, so we just did a short service from where we could go. Unfortunately, we have at least one from the Lahaina Hongwanji that’s still missing.”

Hojo extended the invitation from the Honpa Hongwanji Mission to everyone to participate in the special Maui Wildfires Memorial Service that will take place on Sept. 24 at 10 a.m.

“In Buddhist tradition, we have weekly services for 49 days,” the West Kaua‘i Hongwanji minister said. “Traditionally, ministers visit the family’s house and have services and speak to family members. This provides families and friends with grief care and spiritual support.”

The Maui wildfires started on Aug. 8, and Sept. 25 is the 49 Day Memorial Service.

“The closest Sunday is Sept 24 so we decided to have a service for all Maui wildfire victims,” Hojo said. “I will attend the service that is in-person at the Honpa Hongwanji in Honolulu. Others are invited to participate through the Zoom platform.”

The state ministers association, assisted by the Maui District Ministers Association, will host a memorial service for the Maui wildfires under the guidance of newly-elected Bishop Toshiyuki Umitani.

Participants unable to attend the Honolulu service can participate by registering online at Registrants will receive a confirmation email, and a zoom link a week prior to the service.

All donations from the service will go to the Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawai‘i Maui Wildfire Disaster Relief Fund. Contributions can be done online at and clicking on the “Maui Wildfire Disaster Relief” button under the “Donate” tab.

“We have been watching in disbelief, the tremendous destruction caused by the recent wildfires on Maui. The loss of life, livelihood, and property has been devastating. Lahaina Hongwanji and its Sangha were directly affected by the fires,” states a letter signed by Bishop Umitani, Dr. Warren Tamamoto, president, and Rev. Blayne Higa, chair of the Committee on Social Concerns.

“The temple, columbarium, classroom building, and minister’s residence were completely destroyed in the horrific fires that devastated historic Lahaina town. Many temple members were forced to evacuate, and many homes were burnt to the ground. Our hearts go out to all who have been impacted by this disaster. As residents, and our fellow Sangha members begin the process of rebuilding and healing, the Hawai‘i Kyodan is committed to supporting relief efforts on Maui.”
Source: The Garden Island

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