Byodo-in Temple. Temple in Oahu, Hawaii

Byodo-in Temple

Temple in Oahu, Hawaii

O'ahu - Kāne'ohe: Byodo-In Photo © Wally Gobetz

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Byodo-in Temple

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O'ahu - Kāne'ohe: Byodo-In - Byodo-in Temple
O'ahu - Kāne'ohe: Byodo-In - Byodo-in Temple. Photo by Wally Gobetz
Byodo-in Temple was built in commemoration of the 100-year anniversary of the earliest Japanese immigrants in Hawaii. The temple is merely a replica and does not really practice the Buddhist religion or host residential monks. It was created after the almost millennium-old Buddhist Temple in Uji, Kyoto prefecture in Japan. Its size, however, is half as small as the original temple. It has the large golden Lotus Buddha statue which is about 5 meter high.

It was firstly built with woods and without the use of nails. It was then reconstructed to a more concrete infrastructure. It has the brass peace bell which weights around 3 tons. There are ponds with koi fish swimming in it which is typical for Japanese temples. There are lush Japanese gardens around and the Ko’olau mountain range behind it which makes it even more charming and uniquely Hawaiian.

Despite being a non-denominational temple, thousands of worshipers still flock it from all around the world. Besides the worshipers, many tourists visit the place for other purposes. Many wedding proposals and ceremonies are held in the temple.
It used to house the former Philippine dictator, Ferdinand Marcos (Wikipedia Article).

 - Byodo-in
Byodo-in Temple. Photo by unknown

What to Do

Besides going there for worship, there are many other things that a person can do in the Byodo-in Temple replica. It helps people get more familiar with the Buddhist culture without the worries of disturbing the peace inside or violating any cultural norm. Respect, however, is still highly encouraged in visiting even just a replica of a sacred Japanese Temple. These are the different points of interests one can check out in the Hawaiian Byodo-in Temple.

The Amida Buddha

The Amida, which is the golden Buddha, is unique in the whole world and can only be found in the Byodo-in Temple originally. Of the many other Amidas all throughout the world, besides the original, the Hawaiian Amida is the largest. It has 52 smaller sculptures around it which portrays the enlightened beings, or Bodhisattvas, floating in clouds, dancing, playing musical instruments, and doing other heavenly merriments. The Hawaiian Amida was carved by the well-known Japanese sculptor, Masuzo Inui.

The hall where the Amida is located demonstrates the Fujiwara (Wikipedia Article) aristocracy. It is called the ‘Hoo-do’. Although, the Byodo-In Temple in Hawaii is just a replica, taking off the shoes as a sign of respect and obedience to culture is still a must for anyone who comes in.

Bon-sho or Sacred Bell

The five-foot high, three-ton heavy brass bell, or bon-sho, was really casted in Japan itself. It is a mixture of bronze and tin. The original Uji Byodo-in bell, however, came from India.

The ringing of the bell is believed to ward evil away, leaving the mind at peace, clean, and happy.

Meditation Pavilion

The local Buddhist community comes to the Hawaiian Byodo-in Temple to worship and practice their religion. If one wishes, he can join the people meditating at the Pavilion. The area is truly serene, so when one chooses to see the meditation pavilion, he needs to observe the silence around.

Tea House Gift Shop

What's more Japanese than having tea? It is the best way to end the tour in the Byodo-In Temple, by sipping tea at the gift shop and purchasing some souvenirs. One can get himself miniature temple bells or Buddha statues, Japanese wedding gowns; kimonos, coats; headbands, Japanese artworks; and many other Japanese and Buddhist items.


Around the temple are animals roaming freely around. There are peacocks, swans, turtles, frogs, and many others. There are koi fish in the ponds which a visitor could feed by getting some fish food in the gift shop.

Media Depiction

The Hawaiian Byodo-In Temple had been shown in many films and TV series. For example, it has been in Hawaii Five-O, Magnum P.I.; ABC, Lost; seaQuest DSV, and Pearl Harbor among others.

How to Get Here

When coming from the airport, exit onto the freeway and take the H1 Honolulu East route. When you get into the freeway, take the left lane and follow the (63) North. Get out at 20A Likelike Highway. Exit on the right until you pass by the Wilson Tunnel. Exit by the (83) Kalehi. Just keep alert ‘cause the temple would be on the left side of the road. You may also go through the Pali Highway towards the temple when coming from the airport.

When not driving, you can take the bus. It is actually quite easier than driving. From Ala Moana Mall, get on the number 65 bus, get off at the last stop and cross the highway to the Valley of the Temples where the Byodo-In Temple is. You may also take a taxi which would cost at least $ 40 USD .

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Author: kimn. Last updated: Mar 18, 2015


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