SAIPAN—If it is a place to meditate you are looking for anytime of the day, head out to the Sugar King Park in Garapan and find peace beyond the Japanese temple and monuments.
Your journey to peace begins with a red arrow on a rusty sign beside the pathway that says “The Bell of Peace and Love…anyone who rings this bell will return to this special place someday again.”
That sign alone is enough to stir anyone’s curiosity. Follow the pathway that snakes around the grassy areas and you will come upon a structure in the midst of a mini-forest— a hexagonal building of sturdy wood perched on a concrete platform.
Most of the times, the place is deserted and total silence reigns broken only by the occasional chirping of birds. The structure, which turned out to be the Saipan International House of Prayer (Nanmeido), is closed all the time except for when there is a special ceremony.
On the left side of the prayer house was the bell. You will see the same inscription as the one on the pathway.
According to information on the marker, construction for the hexagonal hall of prayer or the Saipan International House of Prayer (Nanmeido) was made possible by Reverend Shinryu Akita of Shizuoka, Japan and the families, relatives and friends of the Japanese soldiers who died here during the war and to the Marianas Visitors Authority.
The Japanese House of Prayer which was built of fine Japanese cypress was completed in October 1990. It is dedicated to Jibo Kannon, Goddess of Mercy and “symbolizing an affectionate mother who has the power to draw near all the deceased spirits in hopes of eternal peace and prosperity for Saipan.”
The marker also tells that the prayer house was designed by Kameyama Construction Company of Seki, Gifu Prefecture in Japan and the construction work was supervised by Professor Naito Akira of Nagoya Technical College, an authority on traditional Japanese wooden structures, supervised the construction work.
If you visit the House of Prayer early in the morning or late in the afternoon, you will get the feeling of stumbling into someplace remote and forbidden, although just beyond the wire fence are rows of apartments.
Behind the Japanese House of Prayer is a mossy trail that leads to a flight of cement stairs leading up the hill. Take the trail and find another place perfect for meditation at the hilltop. Come out of the Sugar King Park refreshed and renewed.