Koganji Temple

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Temple History


The Japanese Tendai School was introduced to Japan in 806 A.D. by Dengyo Daishi (767-822 A.D.), founder of the school. In introducing Tendai, he also harmonized and combined it with Esoteric and Zen Buddhism, as well as Mahayana precepts. The successors of Dengyo Daishi, such as Jikaku Daishi and Chisho Daishi Enchin went to China, and further studied Esoteric Buddhism.

In the Kamakura Period (1190—1333), new Japanese Buddhist schools developed out of Tendai, namely the Yuzunembutsu, Jodo, Jodoshin, Ji, Rinzai Zen, Soto Zen, and Nichiren schools. The founders of all these schools studied on Mt. Hiei, near Kyoto, where the head temple of the Tendai School is still located. Thus Mt. Hiei has long been the leading center of Buddhist studies in Japan. Also Japanese literature and many of the arts were influenced by the teachings of Tendai.

Shomyo (traditional chanting), for instance, greatly influenced the later development of Japanese music. The tea ceremony and flower arrangement are also derived from the ritual services before the image of the Buddha. At present, Tendai has 3,300 branch temples in Japan. The branch temple opened in Hawaii is the first in a foreign country.


2013 marks the 40th anniversary of the founding of Koganji Temple. Many years of hard work, dedication and sacrifice have made this Temple a reality.

Koganji Temple began very humbly in a converted spare room in the home of the Abbess Jikyu (then known as Mary Rose and hereafter referred to as “Sensei” as she is fondly known to members of the temple). People came to consult Sensei and ask for her help through prayer with their problems. The consultations began initially with friends who asked for help. Soon, the word spread of Sensei’s ability to help people through her faith and prayer. Those who had received help told their friends and relatives and advised others to seek help through Sensei.

People who had been helped stayed on to learn more about Buddhism and the teachings of the Jizo Bodhisattva. Soon the informal membership was meeting on the fourth, fourteenth and twenty-fouth of each month for regular prayer services. Sensei also continued to pray for and advise all who came to seek help.

With each month, the membership grew. In September 1973, Sensei decided that her responsibility to her congregation was such that she needed formal training and instruction as a minister to serve them properly. She also wished to ensure that Koganji Temple would be officially recognized and respected as a member of the religious community. Sensei became a disciple of Archbishop Haba and entered the Enryakyu-ji Temple at Mt. Hiei near Kyoto iaFebruary 1973 to begin three months of intense instruction and training. She completed two of the three tests necessary to her ordainment and chose to postpone the third so she could return to Hawaii to care for her still growing membership.

In September 1975, Sensei returned to Mt. Hiei, completed her training and was ordained a Buddhist minister, the Reverend Jikyu, of the Tendai sect.

After her ordination Sensei began to work toward the establishment of Koganji Temple as an official entity. Looking at her rapidly growing membership, she realized that even the large prayer hail that had been added to her Moanalua home was becoming extremely crowded. She decided that a new Temple would have to be built to accommodate the future growth of the congregation.

After many months of searching, Sensei purchased a parcel of land in Manoa Valley in August 1976. She sold several investment properties which she and her husband Lester Rose had purchased many years before with their own savings. Sensei’s commitment to her congregation and her faith in the Jizo Bodhisattva are so great that she chose to sacrifice her own comfort and security, and that of her husband as well, to build Koganji Temple.

When first purchased, the Manoa Valley property was overgrown with brush and trees. It was nearly impossible to visualize a new temple in the midst of the jungle that covered the lot. Sensei called to the temple membership for help. At first, only a handful of members would come out each weekend armed with sickles, machetes and other tools. Others joined them.

The property was cleared in five months. In November 1976, His Eminence Chief Abbot Etai Yamada honored the Koganji Temple congregation by coming to Hawaii to bless the site of the future temple. The temple was now another step closer to becoming a reality.

To show the congregation’s commitment to building the new temple, services were moved to the house located on the Manoa property. To facilitate this move and to accommodate the increasing number of people attending services, an extension was added to the Manoa house in June 1979. Construction of the extension was done wholly by members of the congregation and carpenters who were friends of members. The extension was completed in October 1979.

In June 1980, plans and drawings for the new temple were completed by the architect and bids solicited from various contractors. A ground- breaking ceremony was held in October 1980 to commemorate the beginning of construction. And on March 12, 1981, excavation of the site began.

Through many months of demanding labor and through the blisters, aching muscles and sunburn, a camaraderie was forged that has seen the congregation through site preparation; the building of sidewalks, retaining walls and driveways; and through numerous “little” jobs that are so costly to contract out and yet so necessary to the final structure.

The months of hard work and dedication culminated in a joyous occasion for all when Koganji Temple was formally dedicated on March 28, 1982 with special services led by His Eminence Chief Abbot Etai Yamada. On that day, 125 members of Koganji Temple were baptized, Koganji Temple’s Goeika (choir) participated in the services and a Chigo parade for the children of Koganji Temple was held.

Today, Koganji Temple’s congregation can look back proudly on its accomplishments over the past ten years. And, with the continued help of the Jizo Bodhisattva and the leadership of Sensei, the membership will continue to grow and learn about the Jizo Bodhisattva and His power.