The one place I have been dying to go to ever since last December when I was planning a trip to the Marianas Islands via a stopover in Tokyo is actually go to Japan. Which I have plans of going to in a couple years provided some things fall into place. Surprises, surprises!
Anyway, since I can’t actually go to Japan by myself (long story… okay it’s a short one, but I don’t want to go into it) I went to Oahu instead. Little did I know, that this island, unlike Kauai, was geared for the Japanese tourist, not the American one. Everywhere I was bombarded with the language. The hotel even gave me a pamphlet for their spa all in Japanese. ええと… ありがとうございます。(Eeto… Arigatou Gozaimasu, Ummm… thank you).
The one thing I made sure I had time for was visiting the Valley of Temples, specifically the Byodo-In Temple. I’ve seen pictures of it before and added it to my Pinterest Travel Board long ago.
When I got there, I never expected it to be so cool in person! I’m used to seeing western architecture, so this was an entirely new and fascinating type of building for me to see.
Make your way up the stone steps towards the back of the temple and you can find a small waterfall and meditation area. That was the most peaceful part as not many of the visitors made their way up there. It was also the best spot on the island, aside maybe from going to a beach, to go about finding your inner zen. I was just so peaceful!
Before you enter the actual temple, you have to ring the large bell at at the entrance. The sound is supposed to purify the mind and allow you to be open to stuff when entering the temple. You also have to take your shoes off before you enter the temple. It is a sign of respect.
Once you make your way through the temple, there’s a small covered area with a British lady selling fresh squeezed lemonade. It was delicious and much needed in the Hawaii heat.
Just beyond the cute lemonade stand is a bridge to walk back across the small moat. That small little area is teeming with massive, and by massive I mean massive, koi. You can also find the resident black swans hanging out in that area. Another small shop sells food to feed the fish and that’s where everyone feeds them.
Making my way back around in the full circle, giant bamboo trees can be found growing in clusters along the right side of the property. It was a little sad to see all the initials and names carved into the trunks. I prefer nature the way it is and people shouldn’t vandalize it by carving their lovers name in it.
The temple is actually a replica of one that is over 900 years-old near Kyoto, Japan. This one was built in the 1960’s on the 100 year anniversary of the first Japanese immigrant to Hawaii.
I eventually made my way back up to the meditation gazebo to finish my lemonade and enjoy the view.
I would highly recomend visiting the Valley of Temples and the Byodo-In Temple next time you find yourself on Oahu. It’s a short 25 minute drive from Honolulu.
Have you been to a Japanese temple before? Would you go? What did you like about it?