Oahu – Day 3 – Part 4
After a windy scenic stop at Nu’uanu Pali Wayside lookout, it is a 20 minute drive to Byodo-In Temple in Kaneohe on the Windward coast of Oahu. Byodo-In Temple is located in the Valley of the Temples Memorial Park (Cemetery). If I didn’t know the temple was located in the cemetery, I would have though we were lost. You drive up to a little kiosk, where they will sort of direct you to toward the temple. You still have to follow the signs of course.
You’ll drive right up past an area of traditional Japanese graves before parking in the parking lot. You know it’s also a tourist destination when you drive up and see a couple tour buses in outside. It brought back memories of Jeju, South Korea where tour buses were actually kind of scary with the big crowds and some what rude people. Lucky for us, tourists in Hawaii were nothing like that.
Admission to the Byodo-In Temple grounds is $3.00 per adult, $2.00 senior citizen, $1.00 child. It is cash only. The little kiosk that sold tickets was also the only place that checked for tickets, and it was interesting to see several signs that said “no professional photography,” I guess people have to pay extra to take wedding pictures etc there.
Byodo-In means “Temple of Equality.” Built in 1968 as a centennial commemoration of the first Japanese immigration of the first Japanese immigrants in Hawaii. It is a replica of the temple in Uji Japan also called Byodo-In.
The Byodo-In Temple experience starts with the bridge leading to the temple grounds, and of course a perfect place for photo ops. My parents were in Hawaii in 1985 (29 years ago) and it was interesting having them there with us telling us how this place hasn’t changed much since then. Of course we had to find some old pictures to prove that.
After reading up on Byodo-In temple, I realized that we were supposed to turn left toward the bell first (which was what my Dad was super excited to see first but I insisted that we turn right (going counter clockwise, like a rebel) to get some good pictures of the whole temple.
As we continued walking around the pond on gravel, you can spot some turtles, black swans, frogs (I don’t remember seeing any), wild peacocks, and lots of koi fish. You can buy fish food in the gift shop. It’s nice seeing koi fish swimming in a pond, but when you feed them you will see hundreds of them in one spot practically jumping out of the water fighting for your food.
After seeing the some what chaotic pond, we made our way back into the tranquil temple. We walked along some traditional walkways leading to the Phoenix Hall also known as Hoo-do where the Amida (golden Buddha) is housed. We took off our shoes at the entrance and entered the hall.
The Amida is a big (9-ft) gold leaf-covered buddha statue embellished with 52 smaller sculptures of Boddhisattvas (enlightened beings). The hall seemed kind of small and dark with such a big statue in there. It was important to remain quiet and respect the hall. It is a place of worship, there are some incense for you to light and a donation box (things you will usually find in a Buddhist temple).
And as we were walking toward the five foot high, three ton brass bell, sacred bell (bon-sho), it started to rain. I was glad were were not at the beach but the only places that are covered at Byodo-In are the pavilions. Anyways, we still made our way over to the bell where visitors are welcome to ring the bell (with the big wooden log hanging in the pavilion) for happiness and longevity. The sound of the bell is supposed to create a tranquil atmosphere perfect for meditation. And did I mention that went in the wrong direction when we entered the temple grounds? Well, we went the wrong way because you’re supposed to ring the bell when you enter to help purify your mind of evil spirits and temptation (according to the Byodo-In temple website). As a kid going to Buddhist (Taoist) temples, I always thought that we ring the bell to the inform the Buddhas, Boddhisattvas, and Deities that we are at the temple.
The rain stopped before we even made it to our car. From the temple, we drove back to the city for lunch.
47-200 Kahekili Hwy
Kaneohe, HI 96744