Efforts to provide childcare for temple members began in the 1940s and 1950s. Following the end of World War II in the mid-1940s, Mrs. Edith Izumi started a nursery, but because of a lack of enrollment, the nursery closed after a few years. Then in the 1950s, Mrs. Alice Tokunaga served as director of Tot Town. When she accepted a teaching job with the Department of Edu-cation, the nursery closed due to lack of teachers.

Wailuku Hongwanji Mission established its preschool in 1962. Mrs. Sylvia Ishikawa served as the first preschool director. When Mrs. Ishikawa went on leave, Mrs. Teruko Ballinger served as acting director, with Mrs. Carolyn Hozaki as an assistant. In 1964, Mrs. Nancy Oishi became director of the preschool and served for 28 years. In 1970, the preschool hired Mrs. Karen Yo-shida as a certified teacher. She was a teacher for 22 years. When Mrs. Oishi retired in 1992, Mrs. Yoshida took over and has served as director to the present.

The preschool was established to provide care and guidance for the children of the Wailuku Hongwanji members, and to introduce and promote an understanding of Jodo Shinshu Buddhism. The first class included about ten children. The preschool now operates year-round, with an enrollment of about 60 children and a qualified staff including a director, certified early childhood teachers, teachers’ aides, and a cook. The preschool continues to serve the families of temple members and the general public by providing a quality program in early childhood educa-tion, and allowing working parents to meet the economic needs of their families.

The goals of the preschool are to provide an enriching early childhood program that will provide an environment in which children are able to learn and grow emotionally, socially, and cogni-tively to their fullest potential. The staff strives to provide a happy, positive, loving, and safe environment to help all children to become enthusiastic, self-confident, and inquisitive learners through developmentally appropriate practices and activities. The preschool provides a founda-tion for learning through play.

The preschool’s slogan is “We’re Making Tomorrow.” Wailuku Hongwanji Preschool has been serving the community and “making tomorrows” for more than 50 years.

More Informaiton

For more information about the Wailuku Hongwanji Misison Preschool, download the flyer or contact Karen Yoshida (Director) at 808-244-9545.


Hours of Operation

Monday - Friday: 07:15am - 05:00pm

Regular Session: September to June

Summer Session: July to mid-August

We close during public school holidays and breaks, except teachers’ institute day and teachers’ end-of-semester day.


 We serve your children well balanced, nutritious meals including breakfast, lunch, and snacks. 

Experienced Staf

Our preschool staff and director have about 160 years of combined experience. Our preschool director, Karen Yoshida, has served as director for 18 years and previously served as a teacher for 24 years.  

Key Program Elements

  • Daily small group instruction with emphasis on readiness skills and social skills for all children
  • Monthly excursions or performances at preschool
  • Open house
  • Parent conferences
  • “I am special” albums and photo albums
  • Temple visits
  • Year-end get-together and children’s performances
  • “Happy Day Gymagery” classes offered at preschool (optional)


Our spacious facilities include a 4,500-square foot building with a 600-square foot lanai, and an 11,000-square foot fenced playground including a large play structure with a shade canopy. Our facilities are located on Kaniela Street across from the temple.

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