Brief History of the Temple
Located at the foot of the 2,000 foot Koʻolau Mountains in the Valley of the Temples in Oʻahu's Kaneohe Region sits the beautiful Byodo-In Temple.
While always a popular stop for visitors who seek locations off the beaten track, the Byodo-In Temple has become more popular since it was used as a filming location in the first season of the ABC Emmy Award-winning drama series Lost, where it served as the home of the Korean woman Sun's powerful father.
The Byodo-In Temple was built in the 1960's to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the arrival of the first Japanese immigrant workers in Hawaii who came to work in the sugar plantation fields. It is a replica of the 950-year-old Byodoin Temple located in Uji, Japan on the southern outskirts of Kyoto.
Entrance and Wooden Bridge
As you cross the wooden bridge to enter the temple grounds you will surely get the feeling that you are traveling to a place far different than anywhere else in Hawaii.
This bridge was used for the proposal scene with Sun and Jin in the first season of Lost in the episode House of the Rising Sun.
The Peace Bell
A short walk from the bridge will take you to a five-foot, three-ton brass Peace Bell located on your left. This large bell that can be heard throughout Kahaluʻu when rung.
Ringing the bell will purify the mind of evil spirits and temptation. It is said that ringing this bell will bring you happiness, blessings, and a long life. It is customarily rung before entering the temple.
The Byodo-In Temple is a non-denominational Buddhist temple which welcomes people of all faiths to worship, meditate or simply appreciate its beauty. The temple grounds are often used for wedding ceremonies for Hawaiians or visitors from Japan.
The temple grounds are expertly landscaped and impeccably maintained. They include traditional Japanese gardens and a 2-acre koi pond. The smell of fresh lavender and the sounds of the trickling brooks and chirping sparrows make for a peaceful and restful stop away from the hustle and bustle of Waikiki. Peacocks wander the grounds displaying their beautiful feathers.
As you are walking from the bell towards the left and behind the temple you will see a Meditation Pavilion.
The caretakers describe this as a "place of serenity, for private thoughts, and inner peace."
Between the Meditation Pavilion and the Temple you will see a large koi pond.
If you are lucky you may encounter Mr. Harada, the temple's caretaker who will tell you about the history and architecture of the temple.
You may also encounter temple Bishop Hosen Fukuhara who has taught the sparrows to fly up and eat sesame cookie crumbs from his palm. Bishop Fukuhara will show you how you can get the birds to eat from your hand.
The koi ponds on either side of the Temple contain hundreds of fish (koi) and small turtles begging for food. Food for the fish can be purchased at the Tea House Gift Shop.
As you enter the temple you will need to remove your shoes.
Like its counterpart in Japan, the temple building itself is called the Hoodo or Hall of the Chinese Phoenix as its floor plan models that of the bird. A Hoodo consists of a decorated main temple building, two wings on the left and right sides with tail corridor at the rear. Chinese phoenixes are used to decorate both ends of the roof.
Amida or Lotus Buddha
The highlight of the temple is the nine-foot Amida or "Lotus" Buddha so named because he sits upon a lotus flower.
This is the largest wooden Buddha carved in over 900 years. It is stained in a black lacquer and decorated in gold leaf.
Around the Buddha are 52 smaller sculptures depicting Boddhisattvas (enlightened beings) floating on clouds, dancing, and playing musical instruments.
Closeup of Amida Buddha
The Buddha is an original work of art carved by the famous Japanese sculptor, Masuzo Inui.
When the carving was completed, it was covered with cloth and painted with three applications of gold lacquer. Gold leaf was later applied over the lacquer finish.
The Byodo-In Temple is located at 47-200 Kahekili Highway in the Valley of the Temples.
From Honolulu and Waikiki take the H1 West from downtown Honolulu. Exit onto the Likelike Highway and go north through the mountains and tunnel. Exit onto the Kahekili Highway (83) and continue north for about three miles. Turn left into the Valley of the Temples cemetery. The Byodo-In Temple is located in the back of the Valley of the Temples.
The best time to take photos of the temple and grounds is in the morning when the sun is still in the east. In the afternoon the sun is behind the mountains and the colors of the area are not as striking.
There is a cash only admission to the Byodo-In Temple.