View of the Byodo-In Temple in Oahu. One of the top things to do in Oahu.

Visiting the Byodo-In Temple in Oahu – A Complete Guide

Whether or not to include the beautiful Byodo-In Temple in your Oahu vacation should be an easy decision to make. The Byodo-In Temple is as breathtaking as the grounds and the surrounding valley where it is located. It is a beautiful temple on Oahu and definitely worth a visit. The Byodo-In Temple is a hidden gem in Oahu. It is located in an area that you might not consider visiting, the Valley of the Temples Memorial Park. If you are looking for a unique thing to do in Oahu, the Byodo-In Temple is a great place to visit. Not only is the Temple breathtaking. You will find that this iconic temple offers a unique blend of tranquility and cultural richness. It is the perfect place to find serenity during your Oahu vacation. 

Location of the Byodo-In Temple

The Byodo-In Temple is located in the picturesque valley at the foot of the Ko’olau Mountains in Oahu. The Temple is located at at 47-200 Kahekili Highway in Kaneohe on the grounds of the Valley of the Temples Memorial Park which is off Kahekili Highway in Kaneohe. Right away, you will notice that Valley of the Temples Memorial Park encompasses a diverse array of religious structures. As you enter the Memorial Park, you will be greeted by the sight of traditional Japanese, Buddhist, and Christian memorials. This creates a harmonious tapestry of cultural diversity. The name Byodo-In Temple translates to Temple of Equality. The Valley of the Temples Memorial Park is the perfect location for the Byodo-In Temple. It sets the perfect ambiance that awaits as you visit the Byodo-In Temple.

Entrance area of the Byodo-In Temple
Entrance area of the Byodo-In Temple

A Brief History of the Byodo-In Temple in Oahu

The Byodo-In Temple was established in 1968. It commemorates the 100th year anniversary of the arrival of the first Japanese people who emigrated to Hawaii. The Byodo-In Temple in Oahu is a replica of the original Byodo-In Temple in Japan. The temple in Japan is located in the city of Uji, in Kyoto Prefecture. It is a 950 year old temple designated as a United Nations World Heritage Site. While the Byodo-In Temple in Japan is a Buddhist temple, the Byodo-In Temple in Oahu is not a practicing Buddhist Temple. It is a non-practicing Buddhist temple where all faiths are welcome. It serves more as a memorial than a place of worship in Oahu.

How to Get to the Byodo-In Temple

To get to the Byodo-In Temple, you will enter the Valley of the Temples Memorial Park. As you drive through the memorial park, you might wonder if you turned into the right place or are headed in the right direction. The first time we visited the Byodo-In Temple, we thought we had made a wrong turn. But as it turned out, we were at the correct place. So don’t worry, you are headed in the right direction. The temple is a short drive past the memorial park. Follow the winding road as you make your way to the temple. At the end of the road you will reach the parking lot of the temple.

There is free parking on the grounds. The parking lot is small, and there is a section that is reserved for tour buses. If the parking lot is full, you might need to wait a few minutes while a parking spot opens up.

To reach the temple, you will walk through the grounds, which resemble a Japanese garden. As you pass the gardens and the pond, you will walk over a Japanese bridge and reach the Byodo-In Temple. The gardens, as well as the Japanese bridge, are picturesque and Instagramable. You will probably see many people taking pictures on the path to the Byodo-In Temple.

View of the path and bridge to the entrance of the Byodo-In Temple from the front of the Temple.
The path and bridge going towards the entrance of the Byodo-In Temple.

Things to See at the Byodo-In Temple in Oahu

There are many wonderful things to see and areas to explore at the Byodo-In Temple. You can visit the reflecting pond, a beautiful garden with small waterfalls and meditation areas, and the temple itself. These are the main attractions you can explore at the Byodo-In Temple in Oahu. 

The Amidda Buddha at the Byodo-In Temple in Oahu

The majestic Amida Budda is the heart of the Byodo-In Temple. The main hall where the Amida Buddha is located is known as the Phoenix Hall because there are a pair of Phoenix located on the roof at either end of the hall ready to fly away. The Amidda Buddha is a large gold leaf covered statue which stands at nine feet tall. The statue was designed by renowned Japanese sculptor, Masuzo Inui and then carved by Jokei Sagawa. The statue of the Amidda Buddha is impressive to visit. There are smaller carvings that surround the Amida Buddha as it sits on a lotus flower. The sheer size of the Amidda Buddha is spectacular, yet the statute radiates a sense of profound serenity. The Amidda Buddha invites you to reflect on the principles of inner peace and enlightenment while admiring the intricate details that make up the statute.

The Amidda Buddha inside of the Byodo-In Temple in Oahu.
The Amidda Buddha inside of the Byodo-In Temple in Oahu.

Visit and Ring the Bon-Sho, the Sacred Bell at the Byodo-In Temple

A symbol of purification and mindfulness, the Bon-Sho, or Sacred Bell, is located in its own bell house. The bell house resembles a small Japanese pavilion and is located towards the left side after crossing the bridge from the parking area. The Bon-Sho was cast in Osaka, Japan, and closely resembles the large bell found at the Byodo-In Temple in Uji, Japan in an identical bell house. The bell is customarily rung before entering the temple. You can participate in the ancient ritual of ringing the Bon-Sho. The large bell is rung during special ceremonies and events. The ringing of the Bon-Sho is believed to dispel negative energy, purify the mind of evil spirits, and bring a long life, happiness and many blessings. 

View of the bell at the Byodo-In Temple in Oahu.
The Sacred Bell on the grounds of the Byodo-In Temple in Oahu.

Spend Time in the Garden

The grounds at the Byodo-In Temple are spectacular and profoundly peaceful. The garden is meticulously landscaped. You will find walkways where you will be able to see and enjoy the colorful plants and greenery. There are also koi ponds, to explore and small serene waterfalls that enhance the landscape. You will also find several types of wildlife, such as peacocks, other types of birds, and koi fish in the ponds.

Throughout the garden, you will find peaceful areas where you can sit and meditate or just take in the beautiful scenery. It is one of the best places to take a moment and enjoy the peaceful surroundings. Every corner of the garden is visually appealing and adds to the beauty of the landscape that surrounds the Byodo-In Temple. The garden is a perfect place to capture a photo as it is a wonderful backdrop. You will also find that the garden at the Byodo-In Temple is very Instagrammable. It will be hard to resist taking out your phone or camera to capture the perfect moment. 

Zen Garden and Koi pond at the Byodo-In Temple in Oahu
Zen Garden and Koi pond

Feed the Birds and the Koi on the Grounds of the Byodo-In Temple 

There are several small species of wildlife at the Byodo-In Temple. The majority of wildlife includes small birds, peacocks, and fish. The ponds are filled with Koi, and you are allowed to feed the Koi fish as well as the birds with some guidelines. The gift shop on the grounds of the Byodo-In Temple has bird food and Koi food available for purchase for a small fee. Only food purchased from the gift shop is allowed for feeding the animals on sight. You are not allowed to bring in your own bird or fish food for feeding the animals on site. 

The grounds and a koi pond which are located on the back side of the Byodo-In Temple.
Koi pond located at the back of the Byodo-In Temple.

Visit the Meditation Pavilion

If you are seeking a moment of quiet and contemplation, then you should visit the Meditation Pavilion. The Meditation Pavilion is a beautiful, traditional Japanese-style pavilion. You will find the Meditation Pavilion behind the temple, which is an ideal location to find tranquility and solace as it is away from the busy entrance of the Temple. The Meditation Pavilion is a hidden gem as many visitors easily miss the temple due to its location behind the temple. 

The grounds at Byodo-In Temple with the Meditation Pavilion in the background.
The grounds at Byodo-In Temple with the Meditation Pavilion in the background.

Visit the Gift Shop

The gift shop at the Byodo-In Temple was originally a Japanese tea house. You will find many items for sale including bird food and fish food so you can feed the wildlife on site. You will find custom Byodo-In souvenirs, Buddha statues, Japanese amulets, and many other items.

One special item that we enjoyed purchasing was the omikuji, a Japanese paper fortune. If you get a lucky omikuji, you can keep it or tie it to the trees outside of the gift shop. If by chance you receive an unlucky omikuji, you can tie your unlucky omikuji on specially designated trees. 

Dress Code for the Byodo-In Temple

There is no dress code for visiting the Byodo-In Temple in Oahu. The only requirement is to remove your shoes before entering the temple. There are areas with shelving located at the entry points into the temple. You can leave your shoes in these areas prior to entering the temple. Although there is no dress code, the Temple is a place of prayer and meditation and you need to be respectful of the location. Remember to dress appropriately and cover up if you are wearing a bathing suit.

Taking Pictures at the Byodo-In Temple

The short answer is yes, you can take Pictures at the Byodo-In Temple! However, there are some requirements that you will need to know about. The Byodo-In Temple is a spectacular place to visit. The grounds around the Byodo-In Temple are beautiful. The Temple’s location at the foot of the Ko’olau Mountains in Oahu begs to be photographed. You will see many people with cameras in hand taking pictures throughout the grounds. There isn’t a problem if you take photographs with phones or a personal camera. Personal photography is allowed. If you are taking photographs for professional photo shoot, whether for an individual or a group, or a special events such as graduation, family photos, or a wedding, then you are required to fill out an application for a permit to take the photographs. There is a fee for any professional photography that is conducted on the grounds. 

Hours and Entrance Fee to the Temple

The Byodo-In Temple is open from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. The last entrance to the temple grounds is at 4:15 pm. We recommend arriving earlier in the day as the temple can get busy as the tour busses begin to arrive at the temple.  The parking lot can get filled as there is a designated section solely for tour buses. 

The general admission fee to the temple is $5.00 for people ages 13 through 64, $4.00 for seniors, and $2.00 for children ages 2 through 12. Only credit cards and other forms of hands free payments are accepted. Currently, cash is not being accepted for the entrance fee.

Tips for Visiting the Byodo-In Temple

You should bring insect repellant as you might encounter some mosquitoes while vising the garden.

  • Have sunscreen on hand. Protect yourself from sunburn as you visit the temple and the garden area.
  • Bring snacks with you. There is a small stand that sells food items, however it is always helpful to bring snacks with you.
  • Credit cards are the only form of payment accepted for the entrance fee. However, having cash on hand is also helpful in case there is a vendor that only takes cash.
  • Don’t forget to bring water. It can get hot in Hawaii, and there is a lot to see and explore at the Byodo-In Temple. It is a good idea to have water on hand to drink throughout your day. 

Is the Byodo-In Temple Worth Visiting?

Yes! Visiting the Byodo-In Temple in Oahu is absolutely worth it. Visiting the Byodo-In Temple is more than just a sightseeing experience. The temple offers a unique experience to explore Japanese culture. From the awe-inspiring presence of the Amida Buddha, the tranquil ambiance of the Meditation Pavilion, and the beautifully landscaped garden, visiting the Byodo-In Temple invites you to connect with nature, yourself, and Oahu’s breathtaking landscapes. You will not regret adding a visit to the Byodo-In Temple to your Oahu itinerary.

If you would like to learn about other places to explore in Oahu read our blog about the Top Things to Do in Oahu, Family Friendly Things to Do in Oahu, and about Oahu’s Amazing Beaches. You can also explore other places on the beautiful island of Hawaii.

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