- For the temple in Japan, see Byōdō-in.
The Byodo-In Temple is an non-denominational Buddhist temple located on the island of O’ahu in Hawai’i at the Valley of the Temples. A Hawai’i State Landmark at 47-200 Kahekili Highway, the Byodo-In Temple is a replica of a 900-year-old Buddhist place of worship at Uji in Kyoto prefecture of Japan. Inside the Byodo-In Temple is a nine-foot (3 m) Lotus Buddha, the largest wooden Buddha carved in over 900 years. It is covered in gold and lacquer. Outside is a three-ton, brass peace bell. Surrounding the temple are large koi ponds that cover a total of two acres (8,000 m²). Around those ponds are lush Japanese gardens set against a backdrop of towering cliffs of the Ko’olau mountains. Sparrows are often seen fluttering about and playing in the garden trees while peacocks strut about displaying their beautiful feathers.
The Byodo-In Temple is visited and used by thousands of worshippers from around the world. It welcomes people of all faiths to participate in its traditions. Apart from worship, the temple grounds are also used for weddings and office meetings.
Byodo-In Temple is a full-scale replica of the Byodoin Temple, a United Nations World Heritage Site near the ancient city of Kyoto, originally a monastery founded by Fujiwara no Yorimichi in 1052 of the Heian period. It was famous for its Dainichi Nyorai, a female Buddha. The statue was lost and replaced in 1053 with a large wooden Amida Buddha called the Amitabha Tathagata, a national treasure of the Empire carved by the Japanese artisan Jocho. Amida Buddha stands in the midst of the Phoenix Hall or Hoodo, an artistic reproduction of Amitabha Tathagata’s heavenly palace in what was called the Pure Land. It is called Phoenix Hall in reference to the two phoenixes stretching their wings upon the temple roof. 52 wooden images of Bodhisattvas surround the Amida Buddha, dancing and playing musical instruments on floating clouds.
Since 2001, Byodoin Temple has undergone restoration that will continue through 2007 in the spirit of preservation of Japan’s ancient heritage.
Byodo-In Temple was commissioned and built in 1968 at its present location in the Valley of the Temples to celebrate the centennial anniversary of the arrival of Japanese culture to Hawai’i. It was dedicated by Governor John A. Burns, a favorite of the Japanese community for his long service for the cause of Japanese rights during the state’s territorial years. Japanese immigrants entered the Kingdom of Hawai’i and later Territory of Hawai’i to labor in the sugarcane and pineapple plantations. They joined the Chinese, Filipino, Korean, native Hawaiians and Portuguese.
Valley of the Temples
Byodo-In Temple sits on what is now called the Valley of the Temples, a vast area of lush, rolling green hills at the foot of the Ko’olau mountains on the Windward side of O’ahu. It overlooks the sleepy town of Kāne’ohe. Valley of the Temples is a memorial park where thousands of Buddhist, Christian and Shinto residents of Hawai’i are laid to rest, side by side. Also on the grounds are large Roman Catholic statues depicting the Stations of the Cross, a non-denominational chapel, crypts and mausoleums of some of the most influential people in Hawai’i. Most notable of those interred at the mausoleums of the Valley of the Temples is Walter F. Dillingham, Hawai’i entrepreneur and statesman. For a time, former Philippine President Ferdinand E. Marcos was interred at a private mausoleum overlooking the Byodo-In Temple.