Saturday, June 13, 2009

Valley of the Temples, Windward Oahu

An afternoon drive through Valley of the Temples Memorial Park meanders through hills dotted with graves adorned with bouquets of ginger lilies, heliconia and birds of paradise. Everyone is represented here; each religion with its own small chapel and traditional grave markers and decorators. Hawaiians, Chinese, Catholics, Japanese and more.

Nestled against the deep green sculpted pali (cliffs) and framed with tall pine tress is the magnificent Byodo-In Temple, astonishingly built without the use of nails. It was built to commemorate the first Japanese immigrants to Hawaii. “It is a scale replica of a temple at Uji Japan that was constructed 900 years ago. The Byodo-in is built to represent the mythical phoenix, its wings upheld by pillars of stone. Folklore tells of the phoenix arising from the ashes to reflect the promises of hope and renewal.”

The name Byodo-in means “Temple of equality – not to discriminate.” On entering the temple grounds, visitors strike a giant three ton brass bon-sho bell, cleansing the mind and creating an atmosphere of serenity that resonates throughout the temple site.

Inside the temple sits the 18 ft. Buddha, Amida, “thought to be the largest figure carved since ancient times, an original work of art carved by the famous Japanese sculptor, Masuzo Inui.”

Coppery madrone trees surround the temple along with ponds and zen rock gardens representing the universe. Wild peacocks and peahens with chicks, spotted doves, myna birds and red-crested cardinals flit about while black swans swim amongst pools of giant 40 lb orange and white koi. Maholo Byodo-In Temple. Copyright©Kathy Stanley. More to come.

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