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[graphic text] Kyoto Gardens of Honolulu Memorial Park

Full view of Kinkaku-Ji Temple
National Register collection; photo by David Franzen
Located in the eastern half of the Honolulu Memorial Park, Kyoto Gardens consists of two large columbarium (a structure of vaults lined with recesses for cinerary urns) structures and a Japanese garden. The State of Hawaii established the Honolulu Memorial Park as a community service cemetery in 1958. The Honolulu membership of the Buddhist Federation commended and endorsed the development of the cemetery in 1964 whereupon it was decided that a monument be erected which would venerate the followers of the Buddhist faith. Herbert M. Richards, President of Honolulu Memorial Park, created the Kinkaku-ji memorial, along with the Sanju Pagoda, which were completed and opened in July 1966. The name of the Kyoto Gardens was designated in 1966 with the donation of a beautiful bronze bell donated by Mayor Takayama of Kyoto and brought to Honolulu via ship in May of 1966. The inscription on the bell was written in both Japanese and English. In English, it reads: World Peace Forever, and continued with the inscription: Praying for the Everlasting Fellowship of Honolulu and Kyoto, Mayor Yoshizo Takayama, January 1, 1966. With the arrival of the bell, the name of the Nuuanu Memorial Gardens Funerary Home was changed to Kyoto Gardens. In 1966, the Senior Minister of the Kinkaku-ji of Kyoto, Japan, Abbot Jikai Murakami, was present for the opening of the Kinkaku-ji memorial and gave his blessing. The three-tiered Pagoda, the Kenkaku-ji Temple, and the Mirror Gardens located within the Honolulu Memorial Park are historically important for being the best examples of Japanese traditional-style structures and gardens built outside of Japan.

[photo] View of pagoda
National Register collection; photo by David Franzen

The Honolulu Pagoda is architecturally significant for three reasons: it was designed with the original proportions of the Nara Pagoda and uses the bracketing construction techniques found in the traditional design; it is the largest pagoda ever built; and it incorporates new construction techniques using concrete and steel. The Sanju-Pagoda is 1 times larger model of a pagoda located on the grounds of the Minami Hoke-ji Temple in Nara, Japan, built in the Momoyama Period (1571-1602). Its height from the foundation to the top of the roof, not including the ku-rin copper spire is 80', the total height, including its spire is 116'.The Kinkaku-ji columbarium models itself after the world-famous Kinkaku-ji located on the grounds of the Roku-on-ji Temple in Kyoto, built in the Muromachi Period (1335-1573) Style. The Kinkaku-ji columbarium is a three-story steel-framed and plaster finish columbarium. The height of the building measures approximately 38' high, not including the phoenix finial at its roof peak. The gentle roof slope form and less formal eave and kumimono structure are historic and architecturally significant forms that are indicators of the later temple style.

The Mirror Lake Garden is also designed in the style of the Muromachi Period (1335-1573). The design of this garden is based upon the symbols of the Buddha's world. Within the garden is the Kinkauji, which has upon its pinnacle, the statue of the phoenix, the symbol of the Paradise of the heavenly Buddhas. Originally, carp fish were donated to Mirror Lake---traditionally the significance of the carp fish is a Japanese historical and religious one: carp fish are always found in the ponds of the temples for, through the carp, one's sins were washed clean. The development of this property shows the respect and acceptance that the Japanese community underwent after World War II when the Japanese-American population was proving to be a vital economic force in Hawaii's society. The return of the heroes from the 442nd Regiment after World War II gave pride to the Japanese-American community. The Kyoto Gardens of Honolulu Memorial Park was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on February 11, 2004.

Garnier Building (Chinese American Museum) | Portland Buddhist Church
Kyoto Gardens of Honolulu Memorial Park
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Images for top banner from NPS Historic Photograph Collection (Rainbow over Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, by Thomas C. Gray, [HPC-001345]) and the Palau Historic Preservation Office.

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