A Cultural Manifestation

There’s just something about a tropical island just before dusk, or just after dusk. For some of us, there’s a feeling of melancholy serenity coupled with an underlying tone of anxiety. Some people wait for the evening hours for rest while others wait for the nightlife. For some of us, there’s an ever-pervading feeling that the day’s almost gone and there must be something else that can be done.

Shoreline at Sunset

There’s something about the shoreline of the southern side of Oahu just before sunset. The calm, the quiet, and the subtle threat of rough water all add to the romantic, spiritual nature of this setting. Part of the beauty of our islands is the spiritual balance that calms the fears of those insidious pleasures that the nighttime brings.

On a Saturday afternoon, just before evening, there is nothing better than to be off the beaten path just a bit and enjoying this quiet time while being reminded of that spiritual balance that is intrinsically our own.

Jizo ShrineGuardian of the Sea

I thought about this as I stopped at this location. I’d heard about this place on the news some time back. I was quite fascinated to know there was an explanation for these rocks that just sit here — seemingly in the middle of nowhere.

Visiting tourists were there, taking pictures and trying to capture the last light before sunset as another day of their vacation came to an end. An older gentleman asked me if I knew anything about this little shrine that sits at one of the look-out points along the coastal drive between Hanauma Bay and Sea Life Park.

Jizo up close“Uh, yeah — a little,” I responded. This visitor was retired military who served here in 1961. “This is Jizo,” I continued, “he’s a Buddhist deity placed here by Japanese immigrants to protect them while they were fishing (casting for ulua) or swimming.”

I’m not sure who was more surprised, the gentleman actually getting an informative answer to his question or me for being able to give him one! I don’t know where it came from but there it was — I was a tour guide for five minutes.

In keeping with the Buddhist (or Japanese) tradition, at least one that I am familiar with, there were flowers and food gifts left at the feet of this deity. As we here at Homespun Honolulu were reminded recently by one of our Carnival of Aloha participants, it’s Obon Season and this may have heightened the leaving of these gifts for Jizo. Perhaps Japanese tourists left those mementos, maybe some fisherman — this part is unclear.

Little Altar by the SeaDo we have a conflict of religious beliefs? Not really. It’s more a harmonious commingling of the multi-cultural map of the islands and a grand example of religious tolerance.

It’s not unusual or unlikely for a “blessing” of a new business or building to be multi-cultural as well. I have heard of people having several different types of blessings or services for big events like that. Now that I think about it, I might do the same. Let’s see, I would look for a Hawaiian blessing for the land, a Chinese dragon or two as sentinels, and the blessing of my own Christian faith to wrap it all up and bless us all — dragons included. 🙂 Of course one might want to get a blessing from Jizo for your boat. I’ll never own a building or a boat so don’t worry about it.

There’s nothing quite like this type of cultural manifestation to calm your fears, quiet the soul and bring you back to the peaceful reality of our lives. It’s an intangible feeling but one that’s definitely there. It’s one of those feelings that is rarely spoken of or talked about — I’m just one of the few people crazy enough to talk about it.

Designated as the protector of fishermen and swimmers, having this Jizo memorial along the often-treacherous south shore is not such a bad idea. There are other statues of Jizo on the Northshore of Oahu and in several different seaside locations throughout the islands.  I’m sure I’ll find some one of these days and refer back to this post. If you’re a little curious, like I was, you can find John Clark’s book, Guardian of the Sea, Jizo in Hawaii, published by University of Hawaii Press, at local book stores and through Amazon.com.

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6 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Sheila // Jul 16, 2008 at 4:00 pm

    I enjoyed learning about the Jizo statues. You make a great travel guide. 🙂

    It seems like there’s such a harmonious melting pot in Hawaii. Love it!

  • 2 Evelyn // Jul 16, 2008 at 9:17 pm

    Hi Sheila! I don’t know why I was so intrigued by it and ultimately so happy to share my knowledge of it with someone who inquired. It was kind of nice to be able to share something cultural. 🙂

  • 3 HawaiiVacationGifts // Jul 23, 2008 at 9:13 pm

    I remember seeing this statue but never knew who it was. Now I know, thanks for a wonderful post.

  • 4 Evelyn // Jul 24, 2008 at 5:16 am

    I just thought… I don’t know what I thought, HVG. The good part was that I recognized it immediately when I saw it.

    “I know where that it is!” I got so excited and had to talk about it. 🙂

    There’s so much to discover in our own back yards.

  • 5 Carl Pancoast // Jul 30, 2008 at 6:31 am

    I currently have a child whi has been wrongfully retained in the Republic of the Philippines by his oaternal Grandparents since the death of my wife back in September 2006. The search has yielded success with my son being found with the assistance of the U.S. State Department,however communication and his welfare have not been established because the region is not a treaty participant of the Hague Convention. The Department of Social Services in the province have determined that my minor son who will obtain the age of 12 on September 8, 2008 has been “resettled” and cannot be forced to return to the United States of America with my who is his biological father and next of kin.
    The reason I am write is to possibly be reunited with my son. The paternal Grandparents have extended family on the Island of Oahu and may be visiting/traveling.
    My sister in law works at Queens medical Center(off Puchbowl Street).

  • 6 Evelyn // Jul 31, 2008 at 6:43 pm

    I’m not sure what to say to you, Carl. I’ve approved your message and maybe someone will see it who can help. Other than that, I don’t know how else to help.

    Good luck!

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