As a counterpoint to the consumer mania that the US’s “Black Friday” (the start of the holiday shopping season) ushered in yesterday, we offer here a chance to visit one of Oahu’s oases of calm — the Byodo-in Temple in the Valley of the Temples, near Kane’ohe. Erected in 1968 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the arrival of the first Japanese immigrants to Hawaii, this beautiful temple and its serene grounds are set against the stunning cliffs of the Ko’olau mountain range. The Valley of the Temples is actually a cemetery with specially designated areas to accommodate the different burial practices of Hawaii’s diverse cultures and communities. The Byodo-in Temple is located at the rear of these majestic grounds. A nominal fee is collected just before crossing this bridge to the main temple area, but it is well worth the visit.
There are small ponds throughout the gardens, stocked with koi, or decorative Japanese carp. Many birds also take sanctuary here, although we did not get anything more exotic than some zebra doves (including one that looked like it was “diving”) in our photos.
View of the main temple from the pond in the front gardens (top) and from the rear gardens( bottom)
As you approach the main temple from the left, this iron bell invites the visitor to announce his visit and intention. [The bell is open for all visitors to use, but please remember this is a place of contemplation and prayer. The bell is not a toy]
Inside the temple, a golden Buddha sends loving kindness out to our beleaguered world. [Please be prepared to remove your shoes before entering the sanctuary]