Valley of the Temples – serene, beautiful must visit Japanese temple in Oahu (2023)
The Valley of the Temples is so serene and quiet, it is almost easy to miss the turnoff here on the eastern coastline Highway to the entrance of the valley. A quiet respite and memorial grounds to various cemeteries, religious temples and historic monuments including the Byodo In Temple at the back of the Valley of the Temples.
As you drive into the lush and green valley entrance, you’ll see the majestic Ko’olau mountain range with the Pali cliffs in the background sometimes shrouded in mist overlooking this peaceful place. On rainy days, you’ll see that the cliffs have dozens of waterfalls that free fall straight into the valley in an exotic and mystical look and vibe.
Located in the Ahuimanu region on the windward side of East Hawaii, this lush valley is the gathering place to various religions to enjoy the peace and beautiful surroundings. The large tract of land is allocated to cemetery space for all religious beliefs and even a cemetery for WWII in the park area.
Byodo In Temple
One of the most visited attractions in this valley is the Byodo In Temple which in Japanese means “Equal” and in translated to “Temple” or Temple of Equality. The Byodo In Temple is an exact replica of a 950-year-old temple located in Kyoto. The Hawaii temple was created in 1968 to mark the 100th anniversary of Japanese immigrants to Hawaii.
This spiritual center and cemetery are a non-practicing Buddhist temple but does celebrate all religious and non-religious beliefs and all ethnicities.
You drive through a winding road around the cemeteries and eventually arrive at the parking lot to Byodo In Temple. From there you walk through some simple and peace zen like gardens, a rainforest creek and finally see the entire temple in its entirety. Surrounding the temple is a large pond area filled with large Japanese koi fish and some black swans. You can feed the fish with fish food from the temple shop and enjoy this simple and fun activity of feeding the fish.
The large temple bell sounds off with visitors striking the large bronze bell and visitors cross a small bridge to reach the temple area. The huge bronze bell was casted in Osaka and weighs over 7 tons and is called the Bon Sho or sacred bell. Before entering into the temple, visitors are allowed to strike the bell with a soft wooden stick, imparting a sense of peace, clearing the mind of negative thoughts and blessings for a long and healthy life.
Entering the temple
When you enter the temple do take your shoes off as a sign of respect to entering and immediately you will see the large-scale statue of the Amida Buddha. Made with copper and bronze the Amida is finished in gold leaf but looks regal and refined with a carve oval background with floral patterns and deities mixed into the design motif.
The Amida here represents the infinite life and the light that surrounds all human beings and you can practically feel the mana or spiritual energy of the place while being in a meditative or quiet mode or reverence.
You are allowed to take in as much personal time to sit and meditate in this space and then quietly exit the temple. You can stroll through the rest of the garden with small waterfalls, pagoda and reflecting ponds before you exit the temple grounds.
Unlike the mostly wooden temple structure in Kyoto, Japan, this particular temple was made with cast concrete and simulated wood detail to mimic the tongue and groove structure of the original. Actual wood carvings were done on site and chanted in place before being set in.
Celebrations of life and weddings
The wedding is a popular spot for wedding ceremonies that can be held there and you can inquire with the visitors center for more information.
The temple grounds also have two chapels available and a mortuary help celebrate your love one’s celebration of life in this peaceful and beautiful environment along with dining in services.
Byodo In visiting hours
Temple grounds are open from 8:30am to 5:00 pm daily with the last entrance allowed in at 4:45.
General admission to the temple as follows:
Adults $5 (age 13-64)
Seniors $4 (65+)
Children $2 (2-12 years)
There are guided tours of the temple grounds and you can contact the shop to inquire to a tour
Check their main website here for more information and details for visiting or services that you may need at the Byodo In Temple.
Other things to see in the area
Waimanalo Beach area
Beautiful Waimanalo beach is the perfect beach to enjoy a fun beach day on the east side of the island. With calm water and waves it is easy to enjoy the beach and aqua colored ocean and do some fun swimming, snorkeling or adventure sports on the water.
Check out a visit to Waimanalo Beach area for more inspiration and images.
Explore Kailua on the East side of Oahu
If you are looking for fun and cool on the east side of the island, then head out to Kailua. With hip galleries and shops, delicious eateries, coffee shops and brew pubs, you can enjoy the small town vibe here. Kailua also has a gorgeous beach to spend a fabulous day swimming, lounging or doing some fun water sports in the ocean.
Check out the Top things to do in Kailua for more inspiration and images to visiting.
Push yourself to doing the Koko Head trail
If you want a perfect combination of workout and spectacular views, you’ll have to do the Koko Head trail challenge. Here at the base, you’ll climb wooden trestles up over 1000 steps to the top of the rim with spectacular views below of the Koko Head area and East Hawaii along with gorgeous Hanauma Bay in right below.
Check out this Visit to Koko Head trail for more information and images to visiting.
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Conclusion on visiting the Valley of the Temples
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