Brought to Hawai'i to work the sugar cane fields, the Chinese were expected to return home after their term was complete. Instead, these ambitious individuals carved a life for themselves within the Hawai'ian community, and remain a significant part of the culture. Seemingly out of place and nestled among coconut trees and white sand beaches, the Wo Hing Temple in Lahaina is a reminder of the Chinese influence in Maui.
The words Wo (meaning harmony) and Hing (meaning prosperity) are inscribed throughout the temple in bold-red, Chinese characters. Although the temple was originally constructed as a social hall in 1912 by the Chee Kung Tong fraternal society, it was transformed into a Buddhist temple shortly thereafter.
Symbolizing good luck, the Dancing Lion of Taipei greets you at the door. In the main hall, two Fu Dogs (jade statues) stand on either side of an ancient screen panel decorated with intricate relief carvings and gilt painting. Artifacts and pictures are displayed around the room, portraying the history of the Chinese in Hawai'i.
Upstairs a sacred alter room, looking almost identical to the original, was used for offerings and religious ceremonies. The room contains the only Taoist alter on the island and also briefly explains the history of the Chinese moon festival.
Separate from the main hall is the cookhouse. Constructed of multi-colored boards, this building was meant to protect the temple from fires. Rusted woks still rest in fire pits and a variety of cookware is presented on authentic countertops. With an air of modernity, a big-screen TV sits in front of wooden benches. This theater regularly shows some of the first motion pictures of the island taken by Thomas Edison.
- Saturday through Thursday: 10am to 4pm
- Friday: 10m to 8pm
- Adults: $2
- Children 12yrs old and younger: Free
- Location: 858 Front Street, Lahaina, HI
- Phone: 808-661-5553
- Website: www.lahainarestoration.org