The Byodo-In temple is an impressive architectural masterpiece tucked into the Hawaii mountains. Its imposing presence and secluded location kept me from visiting for far too long.
Located in the Valley of the Temples, it is near Kaneohe on the windward side of Oahu. I had heard of it when we first moved here, but was hesitant about how accessible it was (I had already experienced some moderately difficult hikes to see other valley wonders on the island). Also, I wondered if it was rude to just wander into a Buddhist temple to look around. As a result, when we were across the street to obtain our Hawaii drivers licenses, I passed on the opportunity to explore, thinking “some day.” That day came on my mother’s recent Hawaii vacation. So, here are my hints.The Valley of the Temples is just off the Kahekili highway that runs through Kaneohe but that is not the same highway that hugs the coastline – it connects to the Kamehameha Highway at both ends, but you won’t just happen upon the temple while driving along the shore.
* The entrance to the Valley of the Temples takes you to a cemetery. It is a paved drive all the way to the temple, which sits behind the cemetery and in front of the Koolau Mountains. There is parking and a very short, smooth walk across a bridge to the temple.
* Visitors are welcome at the temple. You are asked to remove your shoes before entering, but it is possible to peer inside at the giant Buddah without going in if you prefer. All are asked to maintain a respectful silence.
* A gift shop on the grounds has many unique items. I was not looking for souvenirs but was still attracted by a small wooden fan that fits neatly into my purse.
The temple has a website with much helpful information. It is such an impressive sight, and yet so easy to visit, that it now is one of my favorite recommendations for visiting guests.