For many people Hei-Sei-Ji, or The Place of Peace, is just “the temple on the hill,” standing aloof from the day-to-day affairs of the greater Furman community. Unless they’ve had a class meet in the temple, few people have even had the opportunity to look inside. This is truly disappointing, as Hei-Sei-Ji was originally gifted to Furman University as a living artifact, designed to actively engage the Furman community in promoting international education, sustainability, and body-mind cultivation. As a whole, Hei-Sei-Ji’s purpose has been fulfilled, with both classes and groups from the larger community making good use of the temple, but I would like to see its influence expand to reach a wider audience.
As the docent for the Place of Peace complex, I am responsible for the upkeep and management of the temple, ensuring that it is kept in good working order. More importantly, however, I hold open hours every Saturday and Sunday from 1:00-3:00PM. Anyone from the Furman and Greenville communities are welcome to come by to experience the Place or Peace in whatever manner best suits their needs. Whether they are curious and would like to see inside, discuss the temple’s history and function, meditate, or would simply like a place to relax, I hope to provide them with the opportunity to do so.
The Place of Peace was originally constructed in the mid-1980’s near Nagoya, Japan, by the Tsuzuki family as a private Jodo-Shinshu Buddhist temple. As such, it was never assigned a priest and remained as a place for personal meditation. When the Tsuzuki family formally moved to the United States, they had the temple deconstructed, offering it to Furman University, to whom they had developed strong ties over the years. In April 2008, a team of thirteen Japanese artisans worked together to reconstruct the temple here on campus, connecting over 2,400 interconnecting pieces without the use of nails or screws. Since then, the Place of Peace and the adjoining Asian Garden have stood as an iconic centerpiece of Furman’s campus.
The Place of Peace is designed to be an active part of Furman University, and I would like to encourage everyone to partake in the truly unique opportunity it offers. Come by any weekend you are available, just to talk and look around, or to use the temple as it was originally intended and meditate in this amazing setting. Either way, you will enjoy the experience.