Located in the Valley of the Temples, at the base of the 2,000 foot Ko'olau mountain range, is the replica of a 950-year-old Buddhist temple in Uji, Japan. The Byodo-In Temple was constructed, without the use of a single nail, in the 1960's to commemorate the first Japanese immigrants who came to Hawaii to work in the sugar plantations.
Byodo-In is the quintessence of tranquility and I was fortunate enough to experience this place solely. The only other people around were the groundskeepers, but they don't count.
Before entering the temple it is customary to ring the Bon-Sho (sacred bell) by striking it with the shu-moku (a wooden log). The five foot high, three ton brass bell creates a deep resonant gong, sending out a wave of calm said to cleanse the mind of evil and temptation. One can't help but be overcome with an extreme sense of peacefulness while roaming the grounds.
The most intense feelings I exhibited were upon entering the temple and getting my first glimpse of Amida, a golden Buddah, carved out of wood that towered more than 18 feet tall.
As I stood there gawking at this immense figure, I began to weep. I had no clue as to why either. All I know is that I was filled with an overwhelming array of complex emotions that I couldn't begin to decipher. I just went with it, especially since I was alone and could do so without prying eyes.
I walked along every inch of these grounds as slowly as I possibly could so I wouldn't miss a single detail. Took a peek in the gift shop and picked up a few mementos (post cards and incense). I also bought a bag of fish food so that I could sit at the edge of the expansive koi pond and feed the eager fishies. Little did I know that every species of wildlife here at Byodo-In would be attracted to the scanty handout.
I was surrounded on all sides by feisty fish, curious swans, a tenacious turtle and a flock of swift birdies. I thought that must be what it felt like to be Snow White! It was too much fun dispensing those goodies, I had to go back and get a second bag. And I was probably stalling, too, because I hated to leave this lovely place. Can you blame me?! Alas, I had other sights to see.
By the time I came full-circle (2 hours later) there were groups of people entering by the dozen! I ate my lunch of leftover sushi (how fitting) in the parking lot before making my way to Highway 83 for a leisurely stop-and-go drive up to the North Shore of Oahu. I had a few hours to kill prior to the evening event we planned to attend for my birthday. If you missed it, we went to Germaine's Luau, which you can read about here.
As I left with thankfulness on my mind, I thought that having this magnificent place all to myself was my birthday gift from the universe. What a great birthday I had (Sept 29)! Lucky, I am :D