Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Byodo-In Temple

Over on the windward side of the island is a cemetery called The Valley of Temples. The cemetery is divided into Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist, and Shinto areas. But the real draw, right at the foot of the Ko'olau Mountains, is the Byodo-In Temple.

This temple was built in 1968 to commemorate one hundred years of Japanese workers living in Hawaii. It is a replica of an 11th century Buddhist temple in Uji, Japan.

This temple has been featured in the television shows "Lost", "Magnum P.I." and "Hawaii 5-0", I believe. I've never seen any of those shows, so I can't swear to it, but I've heard it's so.

Here's an interesting fact: this temple was built entirely without the use of nails just like the temple it is modeled after.

Before you get to the temple is a large "peace bell". We could hear the sound of the bell every so often as it was rung by visitors. Fortunately it has a very soft tone, despite it's size. It wouldn't have been very peaceful to have a loud clanging GONG clamoring every few minutes. The sign by the bell says, "An offering and ringing of the bell brings happiness, the blessings of Buddha, and a long life to the ringer of the bell. It is customarily rung before one enters the temple to spread the eternal teachings of Buddha."

I thought the temple would be huge inside, with lots of rooms to explore. But it is actually just this one room with the statue of Buddha in it. There's actually very little room to even walk around the Buddha.

I'm taking the description of the Buddha statue directly from the web site:

The Buddha is thought to be the largest figure carved outside of Japan. Towering more than 9 feet, the immense figure is an original work of art carved by the famous Japanese sculptor, Masuzo Inui. When the carving was completed, it was covered with cloth and painted with three applications of gold lacquer. Gold leaf was later applied over the lacquer finish. Around the Buddha are 52 smaller sculptures depicting Boddhisattvas (enlightened beings) floating on clouds, dancing, and playing musical instruments. The hall and all the artistry it reflects are regarded as representing the essence of the culture of the Fujiwara aristocracy.

The Hall is popularly known as Hoo-do, or the Phoenix Hall, because a pair of the legendary birds of good omen and of Chinese origin is seen perched on both ends of the roof with their wings spread and ready to fly away. The hall containing two wings reflects stability as well as artistic beauty.


There was a huge black swan swimming around in the ponds. It reminded me of the time when we lived in Texas and a swan tried to eat our chihuahua.

Don't let that whole "majestic beauty" thing fool you.

Swans are mean.

There were several waterfalls and grottos as well as a meditation pavilion. Everything was very quiet and peaceful.


Except for one little boy who kept screaming "Fish! Fish! Mama! Look at the FISH!"

This area around the temples looked like shrines or graves, but I haven't been able to find much information on it. Many of them had offerings of food and flowers. One even had cans of soda and beer!

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