As I’ve mentioned before, I think I have a strong sense of “place” as a geographer (but maybe everybody does??). I can’t help but attach fervid meanings to certain places. I like to think about them and write about them. There are a lot of spots I’ve grown attached to on this beautiful island, and I wanted to start a series where I could document a few of these places before I’m shipped off to a new place to fall in love with. Introducing, “Stomping Grounds Sunday…”
It’s not entirely weird that I chose a cemetery for my first feature of this series. Fall is creeping in, which means that Dia de los Muertos, my favorite holiday, will be here soon. Valley of the Temples is more than just a cemetery, though. I remember the first time I went there vividly. My bff Rikki and I had a friend from high school visiting us. I was living in the dorms at UH at the time, which is in a busy part of Honolulu. Rikki and our friend Adam picked me up and we drove to the Windward Side, which is my favorite part of the island. On the outskirts of Kaneohe, you’ll find it. I can’t really describe the feeling- but as soon as we got there I knew we had found a special place.
It is nestled right at the foot of the Ko’olau mountains. It is green, quiet, and peaceful. And it just has that vibe, you know? Apart from it’s visual appeal, there is something unique about the Valley of the Temples. All around the property, there are little temples or mausoleums or whatever for a bunch of different religions. At the risk of sounding like a dirty hippy- I just find it so neat that a bunch of people who believed vastly different things about life and death are all buried together in this one magnificent place. It’s beautiful.
As you drive deeper into the valley, you’ll encounter the best part- the Byodo-In temple. It is the replica of a United Nations World Heritage Site in Uji, Japan. The Byodo-In is the “Temple of Equality,” and it has obviously found itself in the perfect setting. Around the temple you’ll find beautiful gardens, wild peacock, and koi ponds. Inside you’ll find a huge statue of Buddha where you can light some incense and make offerings. Okay, I definitely sound like a dirty hippy now so I’m just going to shut up and let you look at some pictures…