Byodo-In Temple on Oahu - One of Hawaii’s Best Kept Secrets

Byodo-In Temple on Oahu - One of Hawaii’s Best Kept Secrets

Posted by Hawaiian Isles on 2/21/2019 to Best of Hawaii
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The Byodo-In Temple on Oahu

One of Hawaii’s best kept secrets

Located at the foot of the Koolau Mountains in Valley of the Temples Memorial Park, this Hawaii State Landmark was established on June 7, 1968 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the arrival of Hawaii’s first Japanese immigrants.

Attracting an estimated 300,000 visitors annually, the Byodo-In Temple is a half-size replica of a 950-year-old temple in Uji, Japan that is recognized as a United Nations World Heritage Site. The non-practicing Buddhist temple welcomes people of all faiths to worship, meditate, or simply appreciate its beauty.

Nestled in a cleft of the Koolau pali (cliffs), the grounds are a lushly landscaped paradise including a large reflecting pond, meditation niches, small waterfalls, wild peacocks, and hundreds of Japanese koi carp.

Don’t be surprised if you think that the Byodo-In Temple looks familiar.

In celebration of its 50th anniversary in 2018, the U.S. Postal Service issued the Byodo-In Temple Priority Mail® stamp. The stamp was officially unveiled on the grounds of the temple and went on sale nationwide on Jan. 21, 2018.

This USPS Priority Mail stamp features a colorful illustration of the Byodo-In Temple on the island of Oahu. Art director Greg Breeding designed this stamp with original art by Dan Cosgrove.

The temple has also been featured in several movies and popular TV shows.

Pearl Harbor (2001)

You can catch a glimpse of the temple in the movie Pearl Harbor. Since much of the movie was filmed on location on Oahu, the Byodo-In Temple must have seemed like an ideal stand-in for one of the scenes set in Japan.


About the scene (Paraphrased from Wikipedia): The raid was planned and led by Lieutenant Colonel James "Jimmy" Doolittle of the United States Army Air Forces. Sixteen B-25B Mitchell medium bombers were launched without fighter escort from the U.S. Navy's aircraft carrier USS Hornet. The raid caused negligible material damage to Japan, but its consequences had major psychological effects in the United States, as it raised morale.

The temple is also a popular venue for weddings.

You can see what a wedding might look like in the LOST (ABC 2004)
Episode: House of the Rising Sun

LOST : Jacob visits Sun and Jin at their wedding

About the wedding scene: The wedding is a flashback. This is where they meet the mysterious "Jacob" (the true leader of "The Others") for the first time. Neither Sun nor Jin have any idea who Jacob is. But they're impressed with his ability to speak fluent Korean and then shrug off the strange encounter.

The current Hawaii Five-O and the original Magnum, P.I. TV series in the 1980s have both featured the site in multiple episodes.

Five Must See Sites At Byodo-In Buddhist Temple

1) Amida Buddha
Inside the 11,000-square-foot temple in a nine-foot statue of the Lotus Buddha and a wooden image depicting Amida. The golden Buddha was carved by the famous Japanese sculptor, Masuzo Inui. Around the Buddha are 52 smaller sculptures depicting Bodhisattvas (enlightened beings) floating on clouds, dancing, and playing musical instruments. The hall and all the artistry it reflects are regarded as representing the essence of the culture of the Fujiwara aristocracy.

2) Bon-sho (Sacred Bell)
The Bell House, called kanetsu-ki-do, contains the five-foot high, three-ton brass bell Bon-sho (sacred bell) that was cast in Osaka, Japan. It is revered for its distinctive shape and tone that sounds a message of deep calm and peace. The bell is customarily rung before one enters the temple to spread the eternal teachings of Buddha. It is said that ringing this bell will bring you happiness, blessings, and a long life.

3) Meditation Pavilion

Located up the hill behind the Temple, the Meditation Pavilion is a place of serenity that evokes private thoughts and helps achieve inner peace.

4) “Wildlife”
Surrounding the temple is a Shinji-ike reflection pond containing hundreds of large koi that can live to be more than100 years old. The temple grounds are also home to peacocks, black swans, turtles, frogs, and other animals.

5) Tea House Gift Shop
Converted to a gift shop, the original Japanese Tea House sells a variety of unique oriental items, such as miniature temple bells, Buddha statues, Goddess of Mercy figurines, Japanese wedding gowns, kimonos, happi coats, Ichi-ban headbands, prints and artworks by local artists. You may also purchase food to feed the Japanese koi.

We hope you enjoyed our little taste of Aloha! If you ever have any questions or story ideas, please e-mail us at [email protected]!


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