Monday, March 21, 2011

Byodo-In Temple

After seeing the sunrise at the Makapu'u Lighthouse on Saturday morning, we went over to Kailua and got breakfast at Cinnamon's again.  Again, it didn't disappoint.  This time was even better, though, because we didn't wait forever.  In fact, we didn't wait at all.  We got there at about 8:30am and were seated right away.  Since we had already been awake from more than 4 hours and none of us had eaten anything yet, we feasted like Kings and Queens.  We ordered the red velvet pancakes (of course), eggs benedict, the baja breakfast, and eggs and bacon.  I am also pretty sure we finished our own pot of coffee since we were all exhausted.  After breakfast, we spent a few hours lounging around and snorkeling at Lanikai where the sand feels like flour.

See what I mean? They tease you with pictures like this
After spending some time at the beach, though, we decided to venture over to the over-hyped Valley of the Temples. Valley of the Temples Memorial Park is a memorial park located on the Windward (eastern) side of the Hawaiian island of Oʻahu. It is a vast area of lush, rolling green hills at the foot of the Koʻolau mountains, overlooking the sleepy town of Kāneʻohe. Thousands of Buddhist, Shinto, Protestant and Catholic residents of Hawaiʻi are buried in this memorial park.

In guide books, this place is described as a peaceful spot located off the beaten path.  To some extent, that's an accurate description.  The Valley of the Temples is located far from Waikiki and other tourist hot spots, but the famous Byodo-In Temple has become even more popular among tourists ever since it was featured in an episode of ABC's television show LOST. The temple was established on June 7, 1968, to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the first Japanese immigrants to Hawaii. The temple is built entirely without nails. It is a scale replica of a temple in Uji, Japan, that was constructed over 950 years ago. The Byodo-In Temple is a non-denominational Buddhist temple which welcomes people of all faiths to worship, meditate or simply appreciate its beauty. The temple grounds are often used for wedding ceremonies for Hawaiians or visitors from Japan.

Inside the Temple.  You can light an incense at his feet
I wanted to visit this place ever since I saw a picture and found out it was constructed entirely without nails.  I thought that was pretty cool.  It also looked huge from the pictures and also appeared to be located in a secluded area of the mountains that might require even a little hiking.  Instead, it's right next to a big parking lot where there are a few tour buses and a little shack that charges $3 to walk on the grounds.  Don't get me wrong, the grounds of the temple are gorgeous.  But there is only one small room that visitors may enter (and can light an incense for prayer if you want).  There is also a giant bell that visitors are told to ring prior to entering as an appreciation for the gods.  Basically, this turns into everyone standing around in a line waiting to take pictures.

From the back
As you can probably tell from my tone, I think this place is overrated.  That being said, you should probably go.  I hate to say it, but it's pretty cool, the grounds are pretty, and it's only $3.  It's an area of O'ahu that not many people venture to and if you're in Kailua/Lanikai, it's only about a 10-12 minute drive away.  So go ahead and take some pictures and then just tell everyone back home that some Japanese monks invited you to their holy temple to pray with them (or something else interesting and creative).

1 comment:

  1. Love your blog! It took me back to the days when I was growing up in Hawaii.