The Valley of the Temples Memorial Park is home to the beautiful Byodo-In Buddhist Temple, modeled after one with the same name in Japan. Within this lush valley lies a cemetery dedicated to many denominations, eastern and western alike.
Echoing this multiple focus are the valley's landscaping and structures. Oahu's Asian temple is surrounded by peacocks, black swans, streams, koi ponds and serene plantings. It was built to honor the arrival of Japanese immigrants in Hawaii and features an enormous brass bell, whose low tones echo through the peaceful valley when offerings are made.
Meanwhile, a Christian chapel is perched on a hill in the valley, and both structures provide quiet places for meditation.
The temple looks mystical on an overcast day — Photo courtesy of Patrick Malone
The Byodo-In Temple is located at the base of the lush Koolau Mountains in Valley in Kaneohe, on the eastern side of Oahu. It's roughly a 45-minute drive from both the North Shore and Honolulu. It was established in 1968 to honor the 100-year anniversary of the first Japanese immigrants to Hawaii.
The temple is a smaller version of the Byodo-in Temple in Japan, which is over 950 years old; it's also a United Nations World Heritage Site.
The temple's grounds are often utilized for weddings for locals, as well as visitors from Japan. It's a non-practicing temple, welcoming people from all faiths to relax, worship or meditate on the grounds.
The acreage is beautifully landscaped, serving as a home to various birds and fish ponds. Children love exploring the grounds and watching the animals.
The golden Buddha — Photo courtesy of Daniel Ramirez
The temple is home to Amida, a golden Buddha that is thought to be the largest one carved out of Japan. Standing at over nine feet tall, the huge figure was carved by Masuzo Inui, a respected Japanese sculptor. A gold lacquer covered the Buddha, which was then covered in gold leaf.
Surrounding the base of the Buddha are 52 smaller sculptures depicting Boddhisattvas (enlightened beings), floating on clouds, dancing and playing musical instruments.
Also on the property is the Bell House, called kanetru-ki-do. The five-foot-tall, three-ton brass bell, called a bon-sho ("sacred bell"), was cast in Osaka, Japan, from a mixture of bronze and tin. The bell is very similar to one over 900 years old, and it's hanging in an identical bell house at the temple in Japan.
It is tradition to ring the bell before entering the temple in order to spread the teaching of Buddha, as well as to purify the mind of evil spirits and temptation. It's believed that ringing the bell will bring visitors happiness, blessings and a long life.