Jikoen Hongwanji is unique in that it was started not to serve a particular area, but to serve the needs of the Okinawan people in Hawaii.  Our history is extensive, varied, and involves not only those in the Buddhist community, but also the Okinawan community both in Hawaii and in Okinawa.  Below is a condensed history of our temple.  Check back for more stores and history of our unique temple.

When Jodo Shinshu was first introduced to Hawaii, in 1889, Japanese temples that eventually arose were organized and controlled by those issei who came from the Japanese mainland.  The Okinawans arrived 15 years later, bringing with them their own customs and language markedly different form the naichi. Experiencing discrimination and ostracism in many ways, the Okinawans kept to themselves.

The Rev. Chiro Yosemori of Okinawan ancestry originally came to Hawaii as a pharmacist; however, his life made a dramatic change after he was exposed to the teachings of Shinran Shonin.  He was impelled to return to Japan to study and receive his ordination as a Shinshu minister. He subsequently returned to Hawaii and served at Waipahu Hongwanji and the Hawaii Betsuin.

During these tenures, Rev. Yosemori saw the great need for spiritual sustenance for these isolated Okinawan immigrants who had very little background in  Buddhist teachings.

He began meeting regularly for services with a few Okinawan devotees in private homes. Later Rev. Yosemori's nephew, Rev. Jikai Yamasato, arrived from Japan to assist in the ministry.

As the group of followers grew in size and enthusiasm, they began to envision their own temple.  With limited resources the founding fathers and ministers dedicated themselves to making this dream a reality.

With much financial support from the Hawaii Betsuin Kyodan, a splendid temple was finally dedicated in September 1938 at 942 Houghtailing Street. Later Hawaii Kyodan, underwrote the construction of a two-story dormitory to provide on-going funds for the new temple.

Careful thought was give to the name for this new temple.  Jikoen, meaning “Garden of the Compassionate Light and Wisdom of Amida Buddha”, was picked. Members came from all over the island.

In June of 1941 Rev. Yosemori left for a short trip to Japan, but because of building tensions in the Japan-America relations he could not return and Rev. Yamasato became resident minister.

When the war began in December of that year, Rev. Yamasato and other Buddhist priests were seized by the military government and held in “relocation camps” on the mainland for the duration, effectively closing down all Buddhist temples.

Jikoen's lay leaders, however, petitioned the military governor to allow Jikoen to re-open. Permission was granted, making our temple the first one on Oahu to remain open during the war.  Heisho Miyasato, as the Kyodan's first president, temporarily moved into the social hall under the hondo and kept Jikoen going with regular services, Sunday School, and memorials.

When Rev. Yamasato was released from internment, he resumed what would become a 43-year tenure at Jikoen. Jikoen continued to grow and serve the Okinawan community both in  Hawaii and Okinawa.

After the World War II ended Jikoen became the center of a huge relief effort for Okinawa which had been devastated by the war.  Tons of clothing and food, and thousands of dollars were collected and sent to help kinfolk and friends in that war-torn land.

In 1952, the Fujinkai, now called the “Jikoen Buddhist Women's Association,”  was reactivated by Lady Ohtani.  The Fujinkai became the backbone of the temple helping not only in the kitchen, but also in all other activities.

In 1961, plans were made to expand the Kalihi-Palama traffic network and Jikoen was forced to find a new home.  The present site at 1731 N. School Street was selected and a long term lease with Bishop Estate was signed.

Construction of the new temple, ministers residence, and Okinawa Memorial Hall began in 1963.

The dream shared by Rev. Chiro Yosemori and Rev. Jikai Yamasato for Jikoen to be a place of spiritual guidance as was well as a place for Okinawan people regardless of their religion to come together and meet freely was met with successful fruition.  Many Uchinanchu – members and non-members were encourage to use Jikoen's facilities freely.

Jikoen asked for contributions for the building fund from not just its members, but the Okinawan community at-large.  Thus they named their hall, the “Okinawa Memorial Hall.” In the 1980's, Mr. Paul Yempuku, CEO and Chief Editor of the Hawaii Hochi Japanese newspaper wrote that one of the major reasons why the Okinawa Kenjin-kai was so strong and had many members was because they had Jikoen Temple.

The new Jikoen was completed in August of 1964.

Lumbini Preschool was quickly established to help the need for day care for children in the community.  To this day, it is bringing in needed funds for our on-going maintenance projects.

Upon Rev. Yamasato's retirement in 1981, the Rev. Chikai Yosemori, son of our founder, transferred from Makawao Hongwanji to become our third resident minister.

A children's Dharma school was revived in 1986.  Besides lessons in Buddhism, they work on various crafts and cultural activities.

In 1988, as Jikoen was making plans for its 50th anniversary, we were told by Bishop Estate that our rent would be raised from $5,000 a year to $5,000 a month.  After some negotiations, Jikoen was given the chance to buy the lot for one million dollars.

There followed three-and-a-half years of frenetic fundraising by our members. Bazaars, garage sales, BBQ chicken sales, breakfasts, a luau, karaoke extravaganza, and golf tournament were held.  Appeals were made for donations from temple, families, friends, and businesses.  Members from other Hongwanji temples through out the state also contributed.  After all this effort, Jikoen raised the needed funds and purchased the land in 1991.

In 1996 Rev. Yosemori's tenure came to end when he was elected as the 14th Bishop of Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii.

Rev. Yosemori was succeeded by interim minister the Rev. Akinori Morii.  In the fall of 1998, local boy, the Rev. Bruce Y. Nakamura succeed Rev.  Morii.

During the tenure of both of these ministers, many improvements were made to the temple.

After an 8 year tenure, Rev. Nakamura returned to his home island to serve as minister at Hilo Betsuin.

In October 2005, Jikoen welcomed its minister Rev. Shindo Nishiyama.

In 2008 the temple celebrated its 70th Anniversary with a special service and luncheon.