In Japan you’ll need to take 60 days out of your schedule and walk 900 miles to visit 88 Shingon shrines. If you’re like me and need a faster spiritual renewal, take my advice and visit the Lawai International Center on Kauai. In one hour you can complete a miniature 88 shrine trek and still have time to catch waves with a renewed sense of peace.
A century ago Japanese immigrants to Kauai built these 88 shrines. Beneath each one, they buried grains of sand or dirt taken from the original shrines in Shikoku, Japan. By the late 1960’s, the shrines and temple route had fallen into disrepair. Now restored thanks to the efforts of many volunteers, the Lawai International Center describes itself as “a non-denominational place of peace, healing and Aloha.”
Located on a steep hillside outside the town of Lawai., the 32 acre grounds were once the site of an Hawaiian heiau and Taoist and Shinto temples.
The trek is completed in silence. When you start the trail, be sure to pick up a walking stick even if you don’t think you’ll need one. The walking stick helps to slow your pace for this meditative journey. It’s also helpful in several places where the trail is steep and narrow.
The Lawai International Center is opened the second and fourth Sunday of each month between 10am and 2pm. There is no charge to enter the grounds but donations are accepted. On my recent visit last month there were volunteers on hand to answer questions. A short presentation was available and there was a great feeling of Aloha.
The grounds are located between the towns of Lawai and Kalaheo right off the highway. Pass through the traffic light after Lawai and take the first left on Waewae Road. For more information call (808) 639-4300 or visit the Lawai International Center on the web.