This site has long been held sacred. The Hawaiians called it Puunoa Point, which means “the hill freed from taboo.” Once a small village named Mala (garden), this peaceful place became a haven for Japanese immigrants, who came to Hawaii in 1868 as laborers for the sugarcane plantations. They eventually built a small wooden temple to worship here. In 1968, on the 100th anniversary of Japanese presence in Hawaii, a Great Buddha statue (some 12 ft. high and weighing 3 1/2 tons) was brought here from Japan. The immaculate grounds also contain a replica of the original wooden temple (destroyed by fire in 1968) and a 90-foot-tall, three-tiered pagoda, which holds the ashes of deceased worshippers.