Diamond Head Crater. Pearl Harbor Historic Sites. Downtown Honolulu. The Polynesian Cultural Center.
These are just a small handful of the many reasons Oahu has become a popular tourist destination over the years, drawing in millions of curious travelers to its allure of adventure and natural awe. It doesn’t just stop with those four must-see attractions, though.
While every trip to Oahu should include a visit to each of those important, historic locations—or to as many of them as possible, if you’re short on time—there are other incredible spots throughout the island that may be lesser known but still provide ample thrills. Enough to make you want to come back for another trip of adventure, exploration, and perhaps the occasional zipline!
The Sanju Pagoda
As you make your way around Oahu—or any of the Hawaiian Islands—it’s impossible not to recognize the influence carried over from many other Pacific islands. Despite the once-rocky history between the people of Oahu and the Japanese, there has always been a very large Japanese community here, and there’s a prominent feature in Honolulu that recalls ancient Japanese culture.
Built over two-year period from 1964 to 1966, the Sanju Pagoda towers over the Kyoto Gardens of Honolulu Memorial Park, matched only by the height of the nearby foliage that threatens to completely block the structure from view. Built just 20 years after the Pearl Harbor attack, the pagoda is a symbol of the strengthened relationship between Japan and the United States.
In Japanese culture, the pagoda is a sacred, multi-tiered tower that is used as a place of worship. At the time of its construction, the Sanju Pagoda, a monument to the rich culture of Japan, came in at 116-feet and was the largest pagoda in the United States.
Though time has taken a toll on the historic structure, with much of its facade falling victim to the island’s tropical weather, the pagoda is still a visual wonder and an incredible sight to behold. Though the pagoda is built within the confines of the Honolulu Memorial Park, the top of the structure rises over the nearby forest growth, making it visible from certain spots in Honolulu.
Considering its current condition, whether it will survive for much longer is still a question to be answered. Though it was salvaged from complete destruction, restoration projects have yet to get underway, making the future of the impressive building even more unsure.
For now, though, it’s still a focal point of Honolulu’s beauty, showing just how diverse the culture is across the Hawaiian Islands.