Lawai International Center, a non-profit community project, is an archaeological and cultural treasure in a valley that has long been recognized as a healing sanctuary. In 1904 the first generation of Japanese immigrants built 88 shrines replicating an ancient pilgrimage of 88 temples in Shikoku, Japan. Today, it is the only such site existing outside of Japan and is one of the oldest Buddhist temple sites in the country. Volunteers are bringing these shrines and this valley back to prominence as an international center for compassion, education and cultural understanding.

Grandma's footsteps have lead the way to the rediscovery of the important historical and spiritual significance of the Lawai Valley.

The initial project phase of the Lawai International Center focuses on the restoration of 32 acres in the Lawai Valley that once was the site of the Hawaiian heiau, a Taoist temple, a Shinto shrine, and a Buddhist temple. Today, this property still contains 88 Buddhist shrines, the likes of which are not found outside of Japan.

Upon completion, the Lawai International Center will consist of several phases that will dovetail with the next and will result in a place that honors and remembers the distinctive collective history and spirit of the Valley.

The initial project phase includes purchase of the property, the restoration and reconstruction of the existing shrines, and the building of an information center and Pavilion of Compassion.

The second phase will consist of a gathering pavilion, landscaping and a parking facility. The pavilion will house an educational display on the distinctive historical and religious role of the Lawai Valley. This pavilion will also provide an appropriate environment for educational, musical, artistic, and dramatic activities that will serve to inform, instruct, and inspire residents and visitors alike.

Queen Emma once wrote of the special healing powers of the waters of Lawai. And so it is that something, which not only drew the ancient Hawaiians to this valley but the successive immigrants as well. And something compelled them to make that valley a place of worship as well.

Some people say that the true spirit of Aloha can be found in the smiles of children or in the eyes of the people of Hawai'i. The Lawai Valley stands unequaled as a place of Aloha, where all people were welcomed and gathered for comfort, learning and healing.

Pilahi Paki's translation of the meaning of aloha was the genesis of the Aloha Spirit Bill adopted by the Legislature in 1986. It is as follows:




Kindness, as expressed with tenderness.



Unity, to be expressed with harmony.



Agreeable, to be expressed with pleasantness.



Humility, to be expressed with modesty.



Patience, to be expressed with perseverance.

By Pilahi Paki

"These are the traits of character that express charm, warmth, and sincerity of Hawaiians. It was the working philosophy of my ancestors," she said. Pilahi Paki's words are the inspiration and life's breath of the Lawai International Center. A place where people will gather in the spirit of aloha, and the footfalls of Grandma and all of those who came before her will echo once again."

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