Most people know that Hawaii has been heavily-influenced by Asian cultures. However, did you know that there is a stunning Buddhist temple known as the Byodo-In Temple hidden within the Valley of the Temples in the Koolau Mountains? Here is everything you need to know about it.
What Is the Byodo-In Temple?
The Byodo-In Temple on Oahu is actually a miniature version of the Byodo-In temple in Uji, Japan. The original temple is nearly 1,000 years old and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The temple on Oahu was actually built in 1968 to commemorate the 100thanniversary of the first Japanese immigrants to the Hawaiian Islands.
Where Is the Byodo-In Temple?
The Byodo-In Temple is located in the Valley of the Temples in city of Kaneohe. If you simply put in “Byodo-In Temple” into Google Maps, it’ll get you there. Parking is also readily available right outside of the temple.
When Should I Go to the Byodo-In Temple?
The Byodo-In Temple is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. every day. Do note that the last entrance to the temple grounds is at 4:45 p.m., so you won’t be able to try to dip in at the last minute!
Keep in mind that this is a memorial site. That means that during certain holidays over the course of the year (for example, Memorial Day), the temple will be extremely busy. Consider going on a different day to give those who are mourning a bit more space.
How Much Does It Cost to Visit?
The entrance fee for the temple is cash only. General admission is $5, Senior tickets are $4, and child tickets are $2. There is also a small discount for Hawaii locals.
What Should I Bring to the Byodo-In Temple?
You’ll want to capture this stunning image of the bright red temple and the stunning green backdrop.
A Hawaii ID (Or a Friend with One)
If this is easy for you to acquire, you can get a small discount on the already-reasonable entry fee.
Shoes That are Easy to Slip On and Off
There are certain parts of the temple where footwear is not allowed, so it’ll just make it easier if you don’t have to worry about untying and lacing your shoes each time.
What Should I NOT Do at the Byodo-In Temple?
The Byodo-In Temple is the resting place for hundreds of people who have passed away. Please be respectful of the area. Do not be loud and disruptive. Do not deface anything on the property in any way (examples: carving initials, using spray paint).
What Should I Do There?
Ring the Sacred Bell
This five-foot tall Sacred Bell, also called Bon-Sho, actually has a lot of symbolism in Japanese culture. Before entering the temple, one should ring the bell using the large wooden log in order to clear one’s thoughts of evil spirits and temptation. On New Year’s Eve, it is actually customary for the Japanese to ring this bell (and other bells around the world) 104 times to get rid of the 104 evil spirits.
Enter the Temple
Once you remove your shoes get under the cover of the temple, you’ll see a massive golden Buddha statue. This Buddha statue is the largest Buddha statue outside of Japan! Instead of just walking by and snapping a quick picture, take a second to take in this wonderful sculpture tucked away in Hawaii’s mountains.
Meditate at the Meditation Pavilion
On a small hill behind the temple, there is a little pavilion in the same color scheme is the temple. If you want to dedicate a bit of time to meditation, take a seat in the pavilion, breathe in the fresh mountain air, and listen to the trickling water of the calming nearby stream.
Shop at the Gift Shop
The small gift shop at the Byodo-In Temple is filled with Japanese and Buddhist-inspired objects. You can find everything from miniature Buddha statues to kimonos to local artwork to even food to feed the koi fish in the nearby pond!
Bonus: Explore the Inside of the Temple
This activity is a bonus, because you have to be approached by the owner of the temple, and, honestly, that’s just a stroke of luck. You can make your odds a bit higher by arriving early in the morning when no one else is there, because, I mean, who else is he going to show around?
If you do get the opportunity to get shown around, there will be several rows of cremation boxes and another intricate Buddhist statue. So if you’re the kind of person to get uncomfortable by thoughts of death, perhaps decline the offer to go inside of the temple.
Have you ever been to the Byodo-In Temple on Oahu? Or even better, the one in Uji, Japan? What other temples around the world have you visited? Tell me about your experiences in the comments! (I promise I’ll respond!)
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