Byodo- In Temple: A Hidden Oahu Gem
Those who travel to Hawaii know the best sites to visit. There is Pearl Harbor, known for the tragic attacks of December 7, 1941 and its many Memorials; Oahu’s North Shore, home to many of the most well-known big wave surf spots and host to a number of surf competitions; Maui’s Hana Highway, recognized as one of the best drives in the entire country where the scenery is never ending; and Mount Kilauea, the world’s most active volcano, which has been erupting continuously since January 3, 1983 and continuously adds to the size of Hawaii’s youngest island. There are also many sites to see that are off the beaten path and hidden gems that play a significant role in Hawaii’s robust culture and diverse landscape. Take, for instance, the Byodo-In Temple. Located at the base of the Ko’olau Mountains in the Valley of the Temples Memorial Park, the non-denominational Buddhist temple was constructed to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the first Japanese immigrants to Hawaii. A scale replica of a 950-year old temple located in Uji, Japan, Hawaii’s version is built entirely without nails and welcomes all to worship, meditate, and admire its beauty. There is a nine-foot tall Lotus Buddha known as Amida that welcomes visitors, as well as a three-ton brass peace bell located at the outside entrance. The statue is thought to be the largest hand carved Buddha outside of Japan. The original Byodo-In Temple is located in the Japanese city of Uji and is used jointly by the Jodo Shi and Tendai sects. Built in 998 as a rural villa for use by the most powerful members of the Fujiwara clan, a family of Japanese regents who found power during the Heian period, the villa underwent conversion to a Buddhist temple in 1052. The Japanese version of the Byodo-In’s most famous building is the Phoenix Hall, constructed in 1053 and the only remaining original building, as additional building were burnt down during the civil war in 1336. The Hawaiian Temple’s grounds are a lush landscape, tucked in the mountains and home to Japanese Koi fish that swim through the rivers and ponds and wild peacocks that roam the grounds. Many weddings, meetings and worships take place at the temple, which sees a great number of visitors from around the world from all faiths participating in its traditions. The Byodo-In Temple is a Hawaii State Landmark that has been used in a number of television shows including Hawaii 5-0, Lost, and Magnum P.I., in which it was featured as a recurring part of the plot.