The temple in today’s #travelpic is a bit misleading .. it looks like a Buddhist temple in the mountains of Japan – but Japan is a country that Shirley and I are yet to visit.
Instead, it is the Byodo-In temple on the island of Oahu, in Hawaii.
It’s a replica of a 900-year old temple in Japan – but unlike its Kyoto inspiration, the Hawaiian temple is not an ‘operating’ temple (in the sense that there are no resident monks or regular congregation).
In fact, it says it welcomes people of all faiths – but that didn’t mean much for one American couple on a bus tour we took which included the temple.
As the rest of us were disembarking, to take in the gardens, the peace bell and the temple itself, they quite ostentatiously took out their bibles, and told anyone that would listen that “they weren’t going to bend a knee at a heathen place”.
Fair enough, I guess – not everyone shares the Star Trek ‘Vulcan’ philosophy of IDIC (Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations)
But I love examining other cultures – even if in only fleeting ways. And there is no better door to a culture than the religions they adopt.
This temple, for example, was in what’s know as “the valley of the temples”. No, not the World Heritage listed Valle dei Templi in Agrigento, Siciliy.
This one’s a memorial park on the Hawaiian island of Oahu.
It features the non-denominational Byodo-In temple (complete with its Shinto and Buddhist motifs).
But the memorial park also has statues representing the Passion of Christ, the Virgin Mary, a variety of Christian saints … plus mausoleums, crypts and gravesites for thousands of Buddhist, Shinto, Catholic and Protestant former Hawaiians.
And every now and then, at random intervals, the valley resounds to the great, echoing gong of the prayer bell in the Byodo In’s gardens – as a worshipper or passing tourist pauses to pray, or contemplate, or give good thoughts .. and swing the man-sized shu-moku, or soft wooden log that resonates ‘peaceful thoughts’ and tranquillity.