Making a Difference

Lorraine Minatoishi-Palumbo

Lorraine Minatoishi-Palumbo

Credit: David Murphey

Lorraine Minatoishi-Palumbo began studying the Japanese Buddhist temples of Hawaii a decade ago—and what she learned gave her cause for concern. Scattered across the islands of Hawaii, Maui, Oahu, and Kauai, the 19th- and 20th-century structures were built by Japanese immigrants for worship and socializing. But with the advent of World War II and the internment of thousands of Japanese Americans, scores of the temples were abandoned or demolished. Today, only about 70 remain standing, including the Pearl City Hongwanji Mission, shown here.

"As a Japanese American," Minatoishi-Palumbo says, "this subject lies very close to my heart." Now a practicing architect in Honolulu, she is working on a documentary tentatively called A Journey to Rediscover the Buddhist Treasures of Hawaii, which chronicles the ­history of the temples and her quest to protect them.

Minatoishi-Palumbo hopes that increased awareness will help raise the funds necessary to save the ­temples before it is too late: "I'm hopeful that once people know they're here, they'll come away with a deeper understanding of how unique this history is."  

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