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Byodo-In Temple: Things to do on Oahu, Hawaii
Byodo-In Temple: A Buddhist Refuge Just 15 Miles from Honolulu, Hawaii
The past two years, my daughter and I have been traveling to Oahu, Hawaii for gymnastics meets in January. On our last visit in 2014, we heard about the Byodo-In Temple, which was a mere 15 minutes from our rental in Kailua, Hawaii (on the windward side of the island). To be honest, we weren't sure it was worth a visit, but that perception quickly changed as soon as we drove into the parking lot.
The Byodo-In Temple is a non-denominational Buddhist temple, located in the Valley of the Temples, on the southeast corner of Oahu. Its translation is "Temple of Equality." The structure is a replica of the 950-year old Byodoin Temple, in Uji City, Kyoto, Japan, which is a United Nations World Heritage Site. The temple was established in June 1968 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the original immigrants from Japan to Hawaii. People of all faiths are welcome to visit the temple to meditate, worship or simply connect with the beauty of the architecture and nature.
If you are visiting the popular Honolulu metropolis, its just a quick 20 minute drive over the mountains to this beautiful, serene location. The Valley of the Temples is located at the foot of the Ko'olau Mountains, and includes Buddhist, Christian and Jewish temples. Driving up to the location of the temple you will pass through cemeteries/burial grounds. This approach prepares you to be reverent and respectful during your visit. Note that Byodo-In Temple is not an active temple, but is part of the cemetery. Behind the Buddha carving in the Temple is a columbarium.
The pictures and videos in this Hub cannot come close to capturing the essence of this special place. Learn more about the Byodo-In Temple below and be prepared to be even more amazed!
Basic Information for the Byodo-In Temple on Oahu, Hawaii
Address: 47-200 Kahekili Highway, Valley of the Temples Memorial Park, Kaneohe, HI 96744
Hours: Open daily from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., except for Christmas Day
Parking: Yes - Free
Admission: $3 per person, $2 for senior citizens and $1 for children 12 and under
Gift shop: Yes
Restaurant: No - but there are vending machines
Restroom Facilities: Yes
Child Friendly: Yes
Average Temperature/Humidity: 80 degrees F/85% humidity
Activities: Meditation, easy walking along pathways, lighting candles/incence, ringing large bell, enjoyment of serene location, feeding Koi fish
Special Events: Funeral services, memorial services, weddings & military re-enlistment services. Contact:
- Funeral and Memorial Services: (808) 239-8811 - Family Services
- Wedding Services: (808) 239-9844 - Event Coordinator
What You Will See at the Byodo-In Temple
The Byodo-In Temple is a Hawaii State Landmark. Not many people know of this hidden treasure, so it is my pleasure to introduce you to this non-touristy, but 100% worthy of your limited vacation time, location on on Oahu.
When arriving at the Byodo-In Temple, after you pay admission, head to your left across the arch bridge, which crosses a stream that runs into the large reflecting pond on the site.
Keep to your left along the gravel pathway and arrive at the Bell House. This structure houses a 5-foot tall, 3-ton, brass bell that visitors are permitted to "gong." As you tour the property, the resonant ringing of the bell is like a call to prayer.
From the bell, head to the right toward the temple itself. Marvel at the fact that the entire structure has been built without the use of a single nail!
Quiet reverence is strongly suggested. In addition, visitors must pay their respects by removing shoes before entering the temple. Inside you will find the largest wooden Buddha constructed in the past 900 years. The work of Japanese artist Masuzo Inui, it is believed to be the largest Buddha carved outside of Japan. Amida is a 9-foot Buddha, covered in gold and lacqur, gazing out toward the reflecting pond. Photographs are allowed, but keep voices down out of respect. Visitors may light a candle or incense while praying or meditating.
Proceed past the temple and enjoy the serenity of the reflecting pool, waterfalls, abundant Koi, black swans and peacocks. A dense bamboo forest flanks the eastern side of the property. Trust me that each of these aspects of the Byodo-In Temple site is worth viewing and photographing!
At the Meditation Pavilion, located up the hill behind the Temple, take your time meditating and settling into inner peace.
How to Get to the Byodo-In Temple on Oahu, Hawaii
A Visit to the Byodo-In Temple on Oahu, Hawaii
Have You Ever Visited a Buddhist Temple?
Items You will Need for a Visit to the Byodo-In Temple
1. Bug Spray
As beautiful as the temple buildings and grounds are, don't let yourself get distracted by the biting mosquitoes. Be sure to wear (and bring extra) bug spray before entering.
2. Camera with a fully charged battery
You will want to preserve memories of your visit to the Buddhist temple. It is amazing to see the black swans, enormous Koi fish and peacocks wandering the grounds!
3. Shoes that can be easily removed
You should not enter the temple itself without removing shoes beforehand
4. Cash for Entrance Fee
It is $3 per person, $2 for seniors and $1 for children to cross the bridge and enter the temple grounds. Parking is free!
When to Visit the Byodo-In Temple
I realize that a trip to Hawaii is usually for the purpose of relaxing on the beach, surfing or snorkeling. However, there are days during which the weather and/or surf conditions just do not cooperate.
When we were on Oahu in January 2014, our daughters had a gymnastic meet the day after we arrived. Because we couldn't spend the day on the sand and in the surf, we visited the Byodo-In Temple instead. This destination was a perfect alternative to a day in the exhausting sun and water.
My suggestion is to choose a non-weekend day, if possible for a visit. When inclement weather hits Hawaii, many visitors look for alternatives to surf and swim. Go earlier in the day before the crowds arrive. Starting your day at the Byodo-In Temple is a perfect way to put yourself in the best frame of mind for vacation. Grab a cup of coffee and arrive as soon as the site opens. Spend an hour or two, walking, meditating and enjoying the natural surrounding beauty and the rest of the day will feel like it easily falls into place!
A 6-Minute Tour of The Byodo-In Temple on Oahu
Our Visit to Byodo-In Temple
The day we visited Byodo-In Temple in January 2014, it was mild, a bit overcast and about 70 degrees. My daughter and her friend were preparing for a gymnastics meet, so we were trying to keep their activity level down.
When we heard that we were going to visit a temple and "feed the fish," we were admittedly, not very excited. But we should have trusted my daughter's friend, who visits Oahu, Hawaii several times a year to see her grandparents!
Our visit took us approximately 1 hour, from the time of parking through touring the grounds. After stopping by the Bell Tower and going into the see the golden Buddha, the girls went through the gift shop, marveled at the peacocks and took pictures of the Koi and black swans. We walked past waterfalls and into the bamboo forest for a bit.
We recommend that anyone visiting Oahu for more than a day or two consider this brief tour of the Byodo-In Temple. Start your day here, and you will be surprised at how serene the remainder will be!
© 2014 Stephanie Hicks