Mission History

Brief History (Author unknown)

Hilo Hooganji located at 457 Manono Street (corner of Manono and Piilani Street), is a Buddhist temple of the Shingon Sect.  No known records of its early beginnings are available, because more of the printed records within the temple had been destroyed by burning during World War II.


So with much difficulty and great effort, information was gathered from written records found elsewhere, and from conversations with elderly people who had resided in the area many years ago. This, information contained herein shall constitute the official historical record fro Hilo Hooganji.

Brief Timeline

To learn the history of Hilo Hooganji, we begin with the area called the Waiakea district (town and village). Waiakea, called "Yashi-jima" in Japanese (translated literally from Coconut Island, name of the little island nearby), comprised the area from the present Wailoa Bridge, Lihiwai Street, Kainehe Street, Banyan Drive, Kilohana Street, the Reed's Bay area, Lilioukalani Gardens, Naniloa and Hukilau Hotels and the Kamehameha Avenue nearby.

Many immigrants from Japan settled in this area making it a thriving community, almost as popular as downtown Hilo. A majority of the men were fishermen from Oshima-gun, Yamaguchi-ken, so a fishing industry was established at the mouth of the Wailoa River.  Foremost among these fisherman was a Mr. Shikozo Nishimura, who foresaw the need for a place of worship in Waiakea, so together with the Buddhist missionary from Japan, the Reverend Hogen Yojiri, established the first Hooganji on Kainehe Street in Waiakea.

1908 - April 20, Rev. Hogen Yujiri established the first Hooganji temple on Kainehe Street. It is believed that this first temple was named in his honor (Hogen), but through the years Hogenji became Hooganji.

1918 - The temple was moved from Kainehe Street to Manono Street.


With the tidal waves (tsunami) of 1946 and 1906, however, the bustling district of Waiakea suffered sever losses and the homes and businesses in the area eventually disappeared.

Today, the impressive beauty of Hilo Hooganji stands as a beacon of religion, built from the diligent and patient efforts of our members and friends. 

1952 - The adjoining one-half acre property on Manono Street was purchased to increase temple grounds to a full acre. 

1963 -  June 15, official groundbreaking ceremonies.

Plans called for contributions of labor by members and friends and donated funds to be used for the purchase of materials only.

1966 -  October 15 and 16, “Gosenza Hoyo” Temple dedication and first memorial service in new temple.

1967 -  May 13 and 14, “Rakkei Shiki” Formal dedication ceremonies. 

1969 -  Final completion of building.

1976 -  Area improvements were also completed as follows: paved parking area, tile wall border, and placement of Daishi Toba ( Stupa).

1990 -  June 17, Dedication service of the New Columbarium.

1991 -  November 23, “ Kaigen Hoyo” Dedication service for repair and refurbishing of the Buddhas.

2003 -  March 16, Dedication service of the New Kitchen.

2005 - March 20, Dedication service of the New Pavilion.

2007 -  March 18, Dedication service of the SHUGYO DAIASHI

2007 - October 21, Hilo Hooganji Centennial kick-off Service.

2008 - October 18, Hilo Hooganji Centennial Commemorative Service.