For centuries, the Lawai Valley in southern Kaua‘i has been a place of spiritual and religious importance. Fringed by forests and crisscrossed by streams, the valley has been associated with peace, tranquility, and healing by every group and people that has come across it. Hawai‘i’s Queen Emma wrote about the spiritual and healing properties of the water here, and the valley was prominent in the spirituality of native Hawaiians. As new ethnic groups arrived in the islands, the valley welcome Chinese, Japanese, Portuguese, and Filipino worshippers as well; to date, the Lawai Valley has been the site of a Hawaiian heiau, a Taoist temple, a Shinto shrine, and a Buddhist temple.
Today, the 88 shrines built by the first generation of Japanese immigrants to Kaua‘i still stand in the valley, a recreation of the ancient pilgrimage to the 88 temples of Shikoku, Japan. Built in 1904, it is the only such site outside of Japan, and the oldest Buddhist temple in the United States. The Lawai International Center Kauai oversees continued restoration efforts on the shrines while promoting the important historical and spiritual role the valley has played throughout the centuries.
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The Lawai International Center is a community project that preserves the archaeological and cultural treasures of this sacred valley. Set on 32 acres of pristine forest with extensive walking trails, the site is home to an information center, the Pavilion of Compassion modeled after a 13th century Japanese temple, and the numerous shrines that dot the valley floor. The Lawaii International Center Kauai center hosts educational, musical, artistic, and dramatic events for the local community, dedicated to preserving this unique place that has resonated with so many people from so many cultures and religions across the century.
Lawai International Center’s Upcoming Events
Be sure to check the Center’s website for updated calendar events happening on the Lawai International Center’s beautiful grounds. Events held in the past include tea ceremonies, pilgrimages, blessings, and celebrations. A special Pilgrimage of Compassion will be held in August 2020, and all are welcome to attend. This event will feature Grandmaster Riley Lee, a world-renowned shakuhachi flutist, who has performed extensively worldwide. Performers will also include dances from the students of Kawaikini School as well as Japanese drumming by Taiko Kaua`i. Exhibits celebrating both Japanese and Hawaiian culture will be on display, including a bonsai exhibit, ikebana demos, mochi and taro pounding, and cultural and culinary demonstrations, as well as a bake sale and silent auction.
Visiting the Lawai International Center
As the center hosts many special events, tours are only held on the second and last Sundays of every month at 10am, 12pm, and 2pm. Private tours can be arranged by appointment. Visitors should wear comfortable shoes as the tour is outdoors and spans the beautiful grounds of the center and surrounding valley. Admission is free, but donations are welcome.
The Lawai International Center in Kauai also welcomes the opportunity for visitors to give back through practical assistance on the grounds. On the first Saturday of every month from 9am-1pm, locals and visitors gather to participate in the Community Caring Day, with volunteers joining together to care and nurture these sacred grounds. Lunch is provided for all volunteers.
Other Attractions in the Area
Located on the island’s south shore, it is easy to pair a visit to the Lawai International Center with other popular Kauai attractions. It is located right around the corner from Warehouse 3540, a chic industrial style building that houses shops featuring high quality locally crafted goods. From hand-painted art pieces to stylish clothing and jewelry, Warehouse 3540 is a great place to pick up items from Kauai that vary from the traditional tourist ware. A coffee cart is located inside, and food trucks and a shave ice stand out front are perfect for grabbing a bite to eat after your time at the Lawai International Center.
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When you book a Kauai vacation rental with us at Ahh Aloha, you can enjoy convenient access to some of the island’s top attractions. Our vacation rentals are situated across the island’s north, east, and south shore, near Kauai’s most beautiful beaches and with easy access to shopping and dining. Our vacation rentals along Kauai’s sunny southern coast such as Kahala, Makahuena Point, Poipu Kapili, Poipu Shores Resort, and our South Shore Vacation Homes will provide a comfortable home base near sights such as the Lawai International Center, as well as the renowned Poipu Beach. Contact us at 866-922-5642 with any questions you may have or make your booking online today!