It all started out with a Vanilla Soft Serve and then some how manifested from there, just a lazy Sunday on O’ahu nothing to do, and no where to be. I’d heard of this place on island, this serene beautiful temple located at the base of the mountains, surrounded by lush tropical forests, and a view to die for. So while trying to stay ahead in the battle against sticky melted deliciousness I racked my brain for the name of the park where it was located, and as we sped down the H-3 it came to me, The Valley of the Temples. So we took the turn for the LikeLike and headed for the Kahekili highway.
There’s a tunnel on the H-3 that takes you right through the heart of the mountains, it’s an amazing transition especially when the weather cooperates. You can head into the tunnel on a beautiful sunny day without a cloud in sight, and when you emerge a mile later on the other side it’s like you’ve been teleported from dry grasslands to a water drenched oasis in the heart of the rain forest, and it’s absolutely stunning! As we drove thru I couldn’t help but hold my breath, a child’s superstition ingrained to deep to be forgotten by adulthood, and as the cool gray light of a tropical storm washed over us on the other side, I gasped for air, smiled and hoped my wish would come true.
When we reached Kaneohe where the park is located we saw a sign and in big gold letters were the words VALLEY OF THE TEMPLES, we turned in the narrow paved driveway and headed past the front gates, and through the miles of cemetery that precede the temple. Located at the very back of the valley is a parking lot bounded by beautiful black tomb stones etched in gold with family names and Japanese calligraphy.
We step out of the car and head for the bridge that would lead us over the gully to the Temple. We paid the nice man $3 dollars each and he hands us a small pamphlet full of facts about the Byodo-In Temple we were about to see. A Buddhist temple built in the 1960s Byodo-In is a scale replica of a 900 year old Temple in Uji, Japan. Keeping with tradition the entire building was constructed without the use of nails.
The Temple was breathtaking its eloquent construction backed by the beautiful Volcanic landscape created so many years ago by the Hawaiian Goddess Pele. Two beliefs so perfectly intertwined it was almost impossible to see where Pele ends and Buddhism begins.
As we explore my senses were overwhelmed by an almost palpable calm that the wraps around me as we began to discover the perfectly manicured ground. Ponds and streams copiously clad with koi fish fill the air with the light lullaby of babbling brooks.
On the left side of the compound is The Bell House which contains three tons of bronze and tin expertly blended and cast in Osaka, Japan to closely resemble its much older sister who regally hangs on the other side of the Pacific. After wandering about the property we finally built up the courage to ring the bell as is tradition before entering the Temple. As we pulled back on rope secured to the soft wooden log (Shu-Moku) I tensed in anticipation for a loud mood-shattering noise to crack the shell of serenity that had formed and caressed around my mind, but no such sound came… A low deep tone washed over me resonating through my bones and vibrating all the way to me heart, and as time passed and the noise began to fade, a new deeper sense of calm enveloped me as we headed for the doors of Byodo-In.
As I removed my shoes and stepped into this holy place I sent up a little thanks to whomever or whatever it is that watches over us and bequeaths such beautiful stimulants upon our souls. I’m not a Buddhist and I don’t pretend to know how to pray as one, but I do know holy places whether they be temples, churches or just miraculous locations stumbled upon in nature so I stepped up to the alter, steadied my breathing, lit a stick of incense and made my own peace standing in front of an 18’ tall wooden carving of Buddha sitting upon a lotus blossom just as I would have made my peace in my own sacred places.
On our way out of the temple we stopped to feed the fish and the birds that make Byodo-In their home. So trusting and fearless the little Zebra Doves were they’d come right up and perch on my fingers while eating from my palm, and as we made our way to leave I stopped to take one last photograph of a female peacock resting upon the ground… little did I know there was a tiny soul hidden beneath her wing, and we were just lucky enough to catch it precariously peaking from the safety of it’s mothers bosom.
All in all it was a lovely way to spend a Sunday afternoon!Please feel free to comment. Thanks