When I think of Hawaii, my mind conjures up images of pristine sandy beaches, tropical forests, friendly natives and exotic wildlife. One image that is not immediately thought of is the Buddhist faith. However, Hawaii is home to some of the world’s most beautiful Buddhist temples, which are still used today.
Byodo-In Temple or The Valley of the Temples on the island of O’ahu is a lesser known secret among Hawaiian travellers. This could be part of its charm. Buddhist temples are tranquil, respectful and quiet – I suppose we wouldn’t want the temples filling up with too many tourists!
However, if you do decide to stray away from the glitz and glamour of Honolulu and Waikiki Beach, you will be rewarded with beauty, tranquillity, kindness and calm animals.
Where is Byodo-In Temple?
The temple is on the island of O’ahu on the other side of the island from Waikiki Beach. You can drive to it in just over half an hour, whilst seeing stunning landscapes along the way.
What can you do there?
When you arrive, you should ring the gong towards your left as a sign of respect for those who still worship here. After that, you can take a calming walk to the main temple to see the Buddha statue and fresh flowers that are changed regularly.
Remember to take off your shoes when entering the main temple! (Don’t worry, there are signs to remind you).
Once you’ve finished admiring the Buddha statue and lit some incense to help your meditation and prayer, you can walk across to the gift shop to buy some bird/fish feed. (Remember to put your shoes back on outside)!
In the large pond that surrounds the temple are plenty of beautiful Koi fish waiting to be fed, as well as some tame birds who will also be vying for your attention and the food in your hands.
Pop some seeds in your hands and wait for the little birds to hop onto your palms – like I said, they are very tame!
Bird/fish feed from the shop costs $2 for a small bag, but you may find a kind stranger offering you their food. That’s what happened to us! We were watching and smiling as a young boy fed the fish and birds, when a lovely lady offered us the rest of her feed exclaiming: “I’m just passing on the karma as someone also gave me this food.” What a beautiful moment of kindness at this temple!
Once you’ve admired the fish and birds, I’d recommend taking a slow walk by the pond – you may just find a turtle or two emerging from the water.
I have always admired the Buddhist faith. A trip to this temple to see a small part of their way of life reminded me of the kindness, beauty and tranquillity this culture has to offer.
Have you been to Byodo-In Temple? Are there any other temples you’ve visited like this one? Share your thoughts in the comments below…
Psst! Want more Hawaiian wanderlust inspiration? Take a look at these 36 photos to inspire you!