As much as we love Hawaii‘s beautiful beaches and luxury lodgings, some of our best memories have included exploring the many off-the-beaten path locations around the islands. Today’s guest author and photographer, Noel Morata from behind Travel Photo Discovery, takes us to one of Oahu’s most spectacular sites, the Byodo-In Temple.
One of the most unique places to visit on the windward side of Oahu Island is the Byodo-In Temple located at the foothills of the Ko’olau Mountains in the Valley of the Temples Memorial Park. Originally created as a Buddhist temple, it is now a non-practicing temple that commemorates the 100 years of Japanese immigration arriving to the islands to work the sugar cane fields. Built in June 7, 1968, the temple and grounds are a small scale replica of the original temple located in Uji, Japan, a United Nations World Heritage site.
The lush temple grounds are set back from the main parking lot and you have to walk through lush tropical vegetation and then cross over a Japanese style bridge to reach the temple. Fronting the temple is a huge pond filled with Japanese koi fish. This scene with the Ko’olau moutains in the background, makes for truly stunning image to photograph. Once you enter the grounds and pay the admission, you are allowed to walk freely around the temple and surrounding gardens.
Before you enter the main temple, make sure you first visit the Bon-sho which is the sacred bell located in the bell house. Ringing the bell prior to entering the temple purifies the mind of temptation and evil spirits and brings good health, blessings and happiness. To ring the huge bronze bell, look for the soft, suspended wooden log which you push to ring the bell.
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Inside the main temple is a large 18 foot Amida Buddha – a golden buddha, unique to the Byodo-In. The carving made by master carver Masuzo Inui is covered in three layers of gold lacquer and gold leaf. Surrounding the Amida Buddha are 52 smaller sculptures that depict the Bodhisattvas or enlightened beings. The Hall where the Amida Buddha sits is called the Phoenix hall where a pair of birds of Chinese origin were perching on both ends of the roof, representing a very good omen to the temple and grounds. Two winged carvings are set into the hall, representing the legendary birds, reflecting artistic beauty and stability.
Currently the temple is part of the Valley of the Temples Cemetery. There is a large Buddha with a columbarium behind it that houses cremated remains in urns. Typical ceremonies performed at the temple include weddings, funerals, art events and even TV programs. The temple has been featured in popular TV shows including: Hawaii Five-O, Lost and Magnum PI.
There are many scenic vista points along the route to the Byodo-In and there are many lookout points in the Valley of the Temples along with a beautiful drive with lush plantings on the way to the temple grounds.
Additional information and entry to the Byodo-In Temple:
Open 8:30 am – 5:00pm daily.
Admission to the Byodo-In Temple grounds is $5.00 per adult, $4.00 senior citizen, $2.00 child. Cash only. Also, this is a religious area, so please be respectful and quiet while in the temple.