Over ten years ago I spent my final spring break in Hawaii for a two week study tour. The focus of the trip was on religion and culture, the course credits would complete my Asian Studies minor. I got to attend lectures at the University of Hawaii, and visited shrines and temples in the Waikiki area. The one that made the biggest impression on me was the Byodo-In temple in the Valley of the Temples Memorial Park. Set against the Ko’olau mountains, it is a replica of the original Byodo-In Temple in Japan. I was so entranced by the peaceful grounds, golden Buddha residing inside the temple, and elegant black swans, I still have the pamphlet from my visit.
When I was a senior in college I attended a two week study tour in Hawaii. The collage had lectures for us to attend and activities planned, including visiting Pearl Harbor, a replica of a Japanese temple, and an art museum. One surprise on the trip was attending a Japanese Tea Ceremony on campus. Scheduled last minute, it became a highlight of my trip. It gave us the opportunity to visit the university’s tea house, Jaku’an, where thousands of students have been studying the art of the Japanese tea ceremony since the 1970s. It’s one of the first tea houses constructed outside of Japan. The tea house and the tea ceremony were both simple and beautiful, and I felt lucky to take part in it.