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Place on Oahu: The Byodo-in Temple

Basic Information

  • Name: Byodo-in Temple
  • Where: Ahuimanu, Oahu
  • Cost: $3 adult, $1 children
  • Hours: 9AM – 5PM daily
  • More Information: Official website

Picture from Byodo-In Temple, Oahu

Narrative

The island of Oahu has a deep connection to Japan due to its large number of Japanese immigrants that began arriving in Hawaii in the 1800’s to work in the sugar plantations.  No where on the island is this connection to Japan more evident then at the beautiful Byodo-in Temple:

Picture from Byodo-In Temple, Oahu

Byodo-in translates to mean “The Temple of Equality” and if this temple looks familiar for some reason, it should because it has often been used a movie set for the a number of popular US television series.  In the ABC series LOST, the temple appears as the family home of Yun-jin Kim’s character Sun:

The temple has also appeared in the series Magnum PI and Hawaii Five-O:

The temple is located on the east coast of Oahu in an area known as the Valley of the Temples Memorial Park.  This valley was established in 1968 in honor of the first Japanese immigrants to Hawaii.

Picture from Byodo-In Temple, Oahu

It is approximately thirteen miles from the airport on the east side of the island.  To get there from Honolulu take the incredibly beautiful H3 highway East to Kaneohe. Take the Kaneohe exit and follow the signs to the Kahekili highway.  Once on the Kahekili visitors have to pass through five stop lights before reaching the neighbor of Ahuimanu. The Valley of the Temples Cemetery is on the left and is the entrance to the Byodo-in Temple:

The temple constructed in this cemetery is a full scale replica of the Byodo-in Temple that as built in Uji, Japan more than 900 years ago:

Byodo-in Temple in Japan.

The replicating of this temple was so perfect that not one nail was used to build it just like its Japanese counterpart.  Even more impressive was that all the funds used to build this temple was made possible totally by donations from the Japanese community on Oahu.  What I found surprising when driving to the Byodo-in Temple is that it is surrounded by a large cemetery and neighborhood:

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Here is what the cemetery and pleasant looking neighborhood looks like:

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Considering that this valley is dedicated to the first Japanese immigrants to the islands, it makes sense that there were plenty of Japanese style grave sites near the temple:

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The temple is a very busy tourism location, but they have a large parking lot to accommodate the number of visitors they receive:

Picture from Byodo-In Temple, Oahu

As my wife and I crossed over the bridge we could see a small creek cloaked with dense vegetation the flowed underneath the bridge:

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A short walk from the bridge we came upon a five-foot, three-ton brass bell called the “Peace Bell”. This large bell that can be heard throughout the temple when rung.  Of course I had to give it a try:

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It is said that ringing the bell will purify the mind of evil spirits and temptation. It is also said that by ringing this bell it will bring happiness, blessings, and a long life.  It is customarily rung before entering the temple.  Here is a close up of this large bell:

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The grounds of the temple are just as impressive as the temple architecture:

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Naturally flowing creeks filling fish ponds and carefully manicured gardens completely surround this stunning temple:

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There is a short trail that leads to this small waterfall that is worth checking out:

Picture from Byodo-In Temple, Oahu

Besides the carefully manicured floral gardens, in front of temple is an impressive rock garden around an elegant stone lantern:

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Here is a panorama of the rock garden:

Byodo-In Temple, Oahu

Even the acoustics of the place is relaxing with the trickling waterfalls and ocean breeze.  It is obvious that much love and care is put into keeping this temple as beautiful and peaceful as possible.  After checking out the bell and the gardens I then walked towards the rear of the building to look at the many fish swimming in the temple’s ponds:

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The pond that surrounds the temple is filled with the largest koi fish I have ever seen:

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The gift shop on the temple’s grounds makes a lot of money by selling fish food for tourists to feed the fish with.  I have to admit it, I bought my kids plenty of the pellets to feed the koi fish as well.  It was actually a lot of fun.

Picture from Byodo-In Temple, Oahu

There are even turtles to feed:

Picture from Byodo-In Temple, Oahu

However, it is inside where the true heart of this temple can be found:

Picture from Byodo-In Temple, Oahu

Inside It is here that Amida, a golden Buddha can be found siting in the center of the temple:

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Here is a panorama of the inside of the temple:

Byodo-In Temple, Oahu

This Buddha is thought to be one of the largest Buddhas forged since ancient times as it towers over people visiting the temple with it’s 18 foot height.  The hall where this Buddha sits is known as Hoo-do or the Phoenix Hall because of two of these birds being preached inside the hall with its wings spread which represents stability.  The outside design of Byodo-in Temple was also built to represent the mythical phoenix arising from the ashes to reflect promises of hope and renewal.  My wife just thought it made for a great picture:

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Finally there is a small bamboo grove on the temple grounds for those that have never seen such large bamboo before:

Picture from Byodo-In Temple, Oahu

Most of the bamboo has had people carve personal messages on to them:

Picture from Byodo-In Temple, Oahu

Conclusion

As the pictures in the article show, the 2,000 foot Ko’olau Range makes for an incredible backdrop for what is already a beautiful location.  If visiting Hawaii I recommend Byodo-in Temple as a must see location because of its easy access, cheap ticket, cultural importance, and beauty.  Few places in Oahu pack in so much to see for such a small price as Byodo-in Temple.

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