The Byodo-In Temple and the surrounding grounds form the centerpiece of the Valley of the Temples Memorial Park. Its name translates to "Temple of equality—not to discriminate" and it is distinctive for the fact that it was constructed without the use of nails.
Established in 1968 to honor the first Japanese immigrants to Hawai'i, the Byodo-In Temple is a scale replica of a temple in Uji, Japan that was built more than 900 years ago. The central hall—known as Hoo-do, or Phoenix Hall—features two of the mythical firebirds, one resting on each end of the roof. Standing with their wings spread and poised to take flight, the birds symbolize renewal.
Within the hall is an area of worship, and posted notices urge visitors to remove their shoes as a sign of respect before entering. In its center sits an awe-inspiring figure of Amida Buddha. Measuring over 18 feet high, the statue was carved by renowned Japanese sculptor Masuzo Inui. After its shaping was completed, gold lacquer was thrice spread over it before gold leaf was applied. Together, the artistry of Hoo-do and the golden Buddha represent the culture of the Heian period of Japan.
Standing to the left side of the temple is the bell house, or kanetsu-ki-do, which holds a sacred bell called bon-sho. Made of a mixture of bronze and tin and weighing three tons and standing five feet high, the bell is a close approximation of the original hanging in the bell house on the Uji temple grounds. The bell is traditionally struck with a wooden log before entering the temple, and its tone is believed to evoke a tranquility that purifies the mind of temptation.
Ponds and streams on the grounds contain koi, and you may purchase food from the gift shop with which to feed them. Accompanying the fish are the ducks and swans that also reside in the area, and peacocks are often seen promenading the temple grounds.
Byodo-In offers free parking, restrooms, and a gift shop to supplement the experience of strolling through the lush greenery of the grounds and treading beneath the peaceful gaze of Amida Buddha.
- 9am to 5pm daily
- Adults: $3, Senior citizens: $2, Children: $1
- Location: 47-200 Kahekili Highway, Kaneohe, HI
- Phone: 808-239-8811
- Website: www.byodo-in.com