The Temple of the Lucky Cat


A couple of weekends ago, we went to the Valley of the Temples, which sounded a lot like we were going to be in an Indiana Jones movie.  It’s up in Kaneohe, north of Kailua, and is actually a cemetary.  Lots of them: we passed Catholics, Buddhists, and more we couldn’t see, stretching into hills beyond the road.

The Byodo-In Temple is the part where you can walk around, with its own parking lot and admissions booth.  It was built in 1968 without using nails– out of concrete, so it won’t get eaten by termites.  Inside is an 18 foot statue of Buddha, covered in gold leaf.  It seemed disrespectful to take a pic of Buddha or use the flash inside the dark space, so I didn’t.

Bridge to the Byodo-Ib
Bridge to the Byodo-Ib
Byodo-In
Byodo-In

Surrounding the Byodo-In is a big koi pond, which seems to be four separate ones but is connected.  (Cadillac and I were just debating this recollection.)

It’s very green and very mosquito-ey– I came home sporting 12 bites on my legs (no joke).  Apparently, applying repellent over sunblock is not good.

Where mosquitoes no doubt lay in wait.
Where mosquitoes no doubt lay in wait.

For a dollar, you can buy koi food and feed the fish. You can also ring the bell (free) with a giant log, something the kids wanted to do too much of.

ringing the gong
ringing the gong

The day was also very hot and humid,despite it looking so nice and cool in the pics, so every part of me was fluffy, from my fingers to my face to my hair.  I have not been able to wear my wedding ring one day in Hawaii, though it used to be loose– as soon as I step outside my body swells in protest.  Or it’s reacting to mosquitoes.  Maybe that’s why ladies wear the flower in their hair to signify single/married– more practical than a ring.

But, the best part (for me) was the gift shop.

This is because I bought a lucky cat, the sort you see in Japanese or Chinese restaurants, one paw raised. The left invites money, the right luck.

So I thought, do I need luck or money?

I thought luck, because luck can bring money.

Anyway, I brought it home and Elyse told me she had been given a cat with the left paw up, so we had both.  We placed them facing the front door, as you’re supposed to.

lucky cats

And do you know what happened?  The next day I received a check I’d been missing, and the day after that I got another check, and then our whole Internet cable issue got resolved.

I hoped that the lucky cat had been blessed by one of the priests– after all, it is a temple.

Thanks, Lucky Cats.

Published by Margaret Dilloway

Middle grade and women's fiction novelist. FIVE THINGS ABOUT AVA ANDREWS, (Balzer + Bray 2020); SUMMER OF A THOUSAND PIES. MOMOTARO: Xander and the Lost Island of Monsters (Disney Hyperion); TALE OF THE WARRIOR GEISHA and SISTERS OF HEART AND SNOW, out now from Putnam Books. HOW TO BE AN AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE was a finalist for the John Gardner fiction award. THE CARE AND HANDLING OF ROSES WITH THORNS is the 2013 Literary Tastes Best Women's Fiction Pick for the American Library Association. Mother of three children, wife to one, slave to a cat, and caretaker of the best overgrown teddy bear on Earth, Gatsby the Goldendoodle.

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