Valley of the Temple's Byodo-in-Temple

[Photo of the temple]

by Aina Alfonsi and Cindy Gallarde

If you are ever visiting the island of Oahu, you can't pass up the chance to see a touch Japan in Hawaii. Kahaluu is the home of the Valley of the Temple's Byodo-in-Temple. It is a replica of the actual Byodo-in-Temple in Kyoto, Japan. If you just want to relax and spend some time with some beautiful scenery, this is the place to be.

The temple is fairly easy to find and it is only thirteen miles from the airport. Exit onto the freeway and take the H1 Honolulu East. Once on the freeway, get into the far left lane. Follow the sign that says (63) North, Exit 20A Likelike Highway (pronounced leekay leekay, not like like). This exit appears on the right. Stay on this highway. You will pass through the Wilson Tunnel. Once out of the tunnel, there is an astonishing view of the windward side. Take the Kahekili exit (83) on the right. Get into the left lane . You will pass through five stop lights. The temple is on the left side. The Valley of the Temple's Cemetery is what appears on your left. There is a little hut at the entrance where you may buy flowers if visiting the cemetery. Follow the windy road, and at the end is the parking lot at the entrance to the temple.

Park your car and walk over to the attractive bridge that lures over it. Below the bridge is a lavish river of ferns. When you have reached the other side, there are very wonderful and spectacular sights. The colors jump out at you. On the left is a large bell that can be heard throughout Kahaluu when rung by visitors. The ringing of this sacred bell will bring you happiness, blessings, and a long life. It is customarily rung before entering the temple. The air is so fresh and crisp in this area. It makes one forget about the hustle and bustle of everyday life. As you are walking from the bell towards the right, the rocks that cover the path make a soft, crunching sound under your feet. This path will lead you to the koi (carp) pond.

There are so many fish, that anxiously wait for pellets to be dropped into the pond. When they are fed, they go into a frenzy as if they had never been fed before. ItŐs a sight to see them jumping all over each other and they seem to jump out of the water. There is a feeling of excitement when they are piled up trying to get to the food.

After the excitement from the crazed koi, you may wish to sit and taking the charming scenery. As you are sitting, you may smell the sweetness of a delicate lavender flower. There are also many sounds. The birds chirping, the wind rustling through the trees, and the gentle sounds of the running stream. To add to the scents and relaxing sounds, there are so many beautiful things to look at. Whether it's the articulate artwork in the temple, the elegant peacocks that fly and walk the grounds or just the way the park is preserved, there is endless beauty here.

Within all this beauty comes a story. This is what the park guide Mr. H. Harada will tell you. The majestic bell you ring has little knobs at the top of it so the sound of the gong may generate outwards. This is why the whole town of Kahaluu can hear the bell. A little history of the temple is told by this man. A golden koi is worth thousands of dollars, which is why the pond doesnŐt have any. Koi may also live to be three hundred years old (Harada).

Inside the temple is a statue of Buddha--the god. The Buddha is made of wood and with black lacquer. It also has a dot in the middle of its forehead which represents a third eye. The third eye is "the insight to the spiritual world" (Harada). Mr. Harada is the park's keeper and is of Japanese ancestry. Whenever he comes around, the birds seem to flock to him. He seems to be one with them. His constant presence is also very important to the mystical effect of the temple.

Bringing a camera is must for this adventure. There is also a very quaint souvenir shop. Fish food can be purchased, but it is a tad expensive. Purchasing it from a store beforehand might be cheaper. Visiting the Byodo-in-Temple is not only for the sights. It also gives you a feeling of history and culture. Come prepared to visit the Valley of the Temples, for this is one place that should definitely be seen when visiting the island of Oahu. If you are into hiking, there are three hiking trails nearby, namely Ulupaina, Maelieli, and Ahuimanu. It is only one of the many reasons that Hawaii is so rich in culture, and is so appealing to so many visitors from all over the world.

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