The Byodo-In Temple in Oahu, Hawaii

Visiting the Byodo-In Temple in Oahu, Hawaii (Ultimate 2024 Guide!)

The Byodo-In Temple in Oahu is a must-visit for visitors to the island that enjoy history and culture.

When you first cast eyes on the striking red temple, nestled against the bottom of the imposing (and lush!) Ko’olau mountains, you will be captivated.

The bridge at the entrance to the Byodo-In Temple in Oahu, HI
Walking over the bridge at the entrance at the Byodo-In Temple

We visit Byodo-In every time we visit Oahu. In the midst of a hectic sightseeing and excursions itinerary, the temple gives us a chance to take a deep breath, relax, and just soak in the sheer beauty for a bit.

Located in Oahu’s Valley of the Temples Memorial Park in Hawaii, the Byodo-In Temple is a Buddhist temple that anyone can visit.

With its lovely architecture and gorgeous red facade, lush grounds, many koi ponds, and tranquil ambience, the Byodo-In Temple in Oahu is definitely worth visiting!

In fact, visiting this largest Buddhist temple in Hawaii is one of the best things to do on the east side of Oahu!

Although you may see the Byodo-In Temple described as a “hidden gem” on Oahu, we’ve always seen a fair number of visitors whenever we’ve been here. But never has it felt overcrowded or anything but deeply relaxing.

And now, let’s get started discovering how to visit the Byodo-In Temple in Oahu!

Planning your trip to Oahu? Check out our 2024 guide to the most popular tours and excursions in Oahu!

Lush vegetation on the grounds of the Byodo-In Temple in Oahu, Hawaii
Lush vegetation on the grounds of the Byodo In Temple

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Want to see the Byodo-In Temple on a guided tour from Honolulu? Check out this popular circle island tour that has a 30-minute stop at the temple!

Planning your Oahu itinerary? Read our guide to the best Oahu tours and excursions, from shark cage diving to snorkeling with turtles and kayaking to the Mokes!

History of the Byodo-In Buddhist Temple in Oahu

Oahu’s stunning Buddhist temple is a replica of the Byodo-In temple in Uji, in Kyoto Prefecture in Japan, a wooden temple built entirely without nails.

While the Japanese temple is over 950 years old, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the smaller replica in Oahu dates back to 1968.

Architectural detail, Byodo-In Temple, Oahu, Hawaii
Marvel at the traditional architecture of Hawaii’s Byodo-In Temple!

The Byodo-In Temple in Oahu was built to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the arrival of the first Japanese immigrants to Hawaii. They came mainly to work on sugarcane and pineapple plantations.

The Oahu temple is built mainly of concrete and surrounded by gorgeous lush landscaping. It took about three years to build, and was dedicated in June 1968.

Today, visitors come to the Byodo-In Temple in Oahu to appreciate its beauty and tranquility. It’s the perfect spot to engage in meditation or quiet reflection.

>> Book an exciting, 5-star rated, highly popular, Oahu tour now!

What to See and Do at the Byodo-In Temple in Kaneohe, Oahu

The Byodo-In Buddhist Temple is one of Oahu’s top attractions. Byodo means “equal” in Japanese, and the Temple of Equality is open to everyone!

Like other beautiful places in Hawaii, the Byodo-In Temple has featured in TV shows. Look for it in episodes of Hawaii Five-O and Magnum, P.I., as well as Lost.

A visit to the Byodo-in Temple doesn’t have to take too much time, and in fact, can be one of several places at which you you stop on a circle tour of the island. But you can also spend a few hours here, soaking in the peace and beauty.

Snap photos of the picture-perfect Byodo In Temple

Set in the midst of lush grounds at the foot of the Ko’olau Range, the striking red temple with its mellow Japanese design is a joy to photograph.

The Byodo In Temple in Oahu, Hawaii
The Byodo-In Temple, seen from the grounds in front of the complex

Walk over the traditional bridge and stroll the grounds in front of the building complex to admire it from different angles.

The temple is a half-scale replica of the original in Japan, but it is still impressive. You will think you’ve been transported to Japan when you see the Oahu version!

>> Book an exciting, 5-star rated, highly popular, Oahu tour now!

Ring the Sacred Bell

Before you head over to the main temple complex, be sure to stop by the Sacred Bell (to the left as you face the temple).

Housed in a traditional bell house, the Bon-Sho, or Sacred Bell, is over six feet tall and weighs several tons!

The Bell House at the Byodo-In Temple in Oahu, Hawaii
The Sacred Bell is housed in a traditional bell house
Plaque describing the Sacred Bell at the Byodo-In Temple in Oahu, Hawaii
A plaque describes the Sacred Bell

The bell, and the bell-house, closely resemble the originals at Byodo-In in Uji, Japan. The bell in Oahu is made of brass and was cast in Osaka.

A wooden log, called shumoku, suspended from the ceiling of the bell-house, is used to ring the bell.

Ringing the bell is supposed to bring peace and happiness, and visitors are encouraged to ring it before moving on to the temple.

As you wander the complex, you’ll hear the intermittent deep sound of the bell echoing through the area.

Stroll the gorgeous grounds

We loved wandering the beautiful grounds of the Byodo-In Temple. Nestled in the cleft in the cliffs, the grounds offer both a variety of flora as well as birds and wildlife.

While the temple itself is stunning, the setting and the beautiful landscaping surrounding the temple make you want to linger.

A mature tree on the grounds of the Byodo-In Temple in Oahu, Hawaii
A traditional lamp post stands next to a mature tree at Byodo-In
The grounds of the Byodo-In Temple in Oahu, Hawaii
Strolling the grounds of the Byodo-In Temple!

The grounds are so beautiful that they are often used as a wedding venue on the island.

A gorgeous reflecting pond surrounds the temple, and you’ll find little waterfalls, mature trees, bushes and flowering plants, and little bridges, characteristic of the Japanese style of garden.

Look for statuary, traditional lamp posts, and meditation alcoves — little details that add up to a harmonious whole.

Wear bug repellent!

>> Book an exciting, 5-star rated, highly popular, Oahu tour now!

Step inside the temple

The Byodo-In Temple is not a practicing Buddhist temple, since it doesn’t have resident monks or a congregation.

Inside the temple, you’ll find a statue of Buddha, seated in a lotus position.

The image, made of wood, is gilded with gold lacquer and gold leaf, and represents Amitābha, or the Amida Buddha.

Statue of Buddha at the Byodo-In Temple in Oahu, Hawaii
The statue of Buddha inside the Byodo-In Temple in Oahu

The statue is impressive, at nine feet tall. Created by the famous Japanese sculptor Masuzo Inui, this statue of the Amida Buddha is believed to be one of the largest outside Japan.

Other than the image of Buddha, admire the intricate details on the ceiling.

If you wish, you can light incense in the urn provided on the stand beneath the Buddha image.

Be sure to remove your shoes before you enter. Although the temple does not require formal dress, it is respectful to be attired modestly when you visit the temple.

Feed the koi (and the birds!)

One of the most fun things to do at the Byodo-In Temple in Oahu is feeding the fish and the birds. If you are visiting with young kids, this is an activity that they will love!

In fact, we saw lots of adults having fun feeding the koi and the birds here. The little doves will alight on your hands if you hold them out with some food!

There are hundreds of koi in the pond at the Byodo-In Temple. Some of them are huge and must be very old.

Koi at the Byodo-In Temple in Oahu, Hawaii
Koi rushing for food in the pond at the Byodo-In Temple
A black swan at Byodo-In in Oahu
A majestic black swan swims up for food

You’ll also see turtle in the water, black swans, and geese and ducks. If you are lucky, you may even see a wild peacock (or three!) as you wander the grounds.

You can buy little packets of food at the gift shop to feed the koi and the birds. Do not feed them bread or any other food you bring!

When we visited, another visitor handed us part of a packet of food for the koi. She told us she had been given a part-packet by another visitor when she arrived. So we gifted some of the food we bought to an arriving visitor as we left, to continue the tradition!

Browse the gift shop

The gift shop in the complex used to be a Japanese tea house.

Gift Shop at the Byodo-In Temple in Oahu
The gift shop at the Byodo-In Temple sells fish food for the koi

You can purchase packets of fish food for the koi here. The shop also offers a variety of souvenirs, from statues of Buddha to miniature temple bells, artwork and prints, kimonos, and Ichi-ban headbands.

The gift shop is open from 8.30 a.m. until 4.30 p.m. Note that they do not accept cash: you will need a credit card or a debit card to shop here.

Celebrate the Obon Festival (in August)

Planning to visit Oahu in August? The Byodo-In Temple hosts one of the largest Obon Festivals on the island of Oahu.

Floating lanterns on water is a part of the Obon Festival
Lantern floating ceremonies are often an integral part of Obon festivities

Obon is a Japanese festival held to honor ancestors that are deceased and celebrate their heritage.

The Obon Festival at the Byodo-In Temple is open to the public. It usually includes Japanese traditional dancers, a lantern floating ceremony, a tea ceremony, and more.

Call the temple to check exact dates if you plan to participate!

How to Get to the Byodo-In Temple in Oahu, Hawaii

The Byodo-In Temple in Oahu is part of the Valley of the Temples Memorial Park. It is located in a community called Ahuimanu, just north of Kaneohe, on the east side of Oahu.

If you plan to drive up from Waikiki, it’s about a 40-minute drive via the Likelike Highway (Highway 63) and the Kahekili Highway (Highway 83) (see map).

Don’t have a rental car? You can either splurge on a taxi (about $40.00 each way), or take the bus, which is inexpensive but takes a lot longer and requires a fair bit of walking.

Bus #65 from the Ala Moana Shopping Center, going towards Kaneohe, will drop you off at the stop at Kahekili Highway and Hui Iwa Street East, just across from the Valley of the Temples Memorial Park.

Byodo-In Temple in Oahu, Hawaii
A statue on the grounds of the Byodo-In Temple

Guided Tours that stop at the Byodo-In Temple in Oahu

If you plan on booking a circle tour of Oahu, you can pick one that stops at the temple. Guided day circle tours are a great way to see a lot of the island in a short amount of time!

This highly-rated and very popular Oahu circle island tour has the Byodo-In Temple as a stop. You get about 30 minutes at the temple, so you have to be brisk, but it’s totally doable. Note that admission is not included, but it is a modest amount.

>> Check price and availability for this Oahu circle tour with the Byodo-In Temple now!

Or consider this highly-rated 10-stop circle island tour that includes the Byodo-In Temple. This tour is capped at just 14 people and includes pick-up from your Waikiki hotel. It includes 20 minutes at the Byodo-In Temple.

>> Check price and availability for this circle island tour with the Byodo-In Temple now!

A black swan at the pond at the Byodo-In Temple in Oahu
A beautiful black swam amidst the koi at the Byodo-In Temple in Oahu

Byodo-In Temple Hours and Fees

The Byodo-In Temple is open from 8.30 a.m. until 4.30 p.m. daily. Last admission is at 4.15 p.m.

The gift shop is open 8.30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m.

The gift shop is closed on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day and has reduced hours on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve (9 a.m. until 4 p.m.), and New Year’s Day ( 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.).

General admission to the Byodo-In Temple grounds is $5.00. Seniors (age 65 and up) pay $4.00 per person, and children (2-12 years) pay $2.00 per person.

The temple offers group rates for 10 or more people and discounted rates for Hawaii residents.

You can buy tickets online, but you can also buy them in person at the temple entrance when you visit.

A view of the Byodo-In Temple in Oahu from the bridge at the entrance
You’ll want to keep taking photos of the magnificent temple!

Things to Do Near the Byodo-In Temple

If you plan to visit the Byodo-In Temple independently, make a day of it and explore more of the beautiful windward coast of Oahu!

Explore the rest of the Valley of the Temples Memorial Park

The Byodo-In Temple is part of the Valley of the Temples Memorial Park, a large cemetery and multi-faith memorial complex.

Graves at the Valley of the Temples in Oahu, Hawaii
The Valley of the Temples in Oahu has a beautiful setting

The Valley of the Temples is the vision of Paul Trousdale, an American real estate developer. He founded the complex in 1963.

In the complex, you’ll see memorials from different faiths, large statues, and the graves of thousands of Hawaii residents.

The memorial park has a beautiful setting, with the Ko’olau mountains as a backdrop.

Drive through the Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden

Just a few miles south of the Byodo-In Temple, you can drive through a gorgeous Oahu botanical garden!

Unlike many other botanical gardens in Hawaii that charge an entrance fee, the Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden is free.

View of Koolau Range from the Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden in Oahu, Hawaii
A view of the Ko’olau Range from the Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden

While you can drive through the garden to observe the wide variety of flora and take in the beautiful views, you can also park in designated areas and walk through some of the themed gardens or stroll to the lake.

Enjoy the sun, sand, and sea at Kailua Beach Park

Kailua Beach Park is one of our favorite beaches in Oahu.

The water is a surreal blue-green color and the beach a gorgeous white sand beach. It’s the perfect tropical picture postcard!

A view of Kailua Beach Park on the east side of Oahu, Hawaii
A view of stunning Kailua Beach Park

You can swim, go paddleboarding or kayaking, or just spread out a towel and soak in the rays. Because the shorebreak is tiny, this is a great beach for kids to swim!

Paddling to the Mokes, the two little islands you see offshore, is one of the most popular activities at Kailua Beach Park.

One of the best things about Kailua Beach Park is that there is lots of shade from trees, perfect if you want a break from the sun.

Kailua Beach Park is about 10 miles from the Byodo-In Temple. There’s plenty of free parking, restrooms, showers, and lifeguard towers.

And if you are up for it, you can also walk to Lanikai Beach, known for its beauty and it snorkeling. (Parking is hard to find at Lanikai!)

Go snorkeling at the Kaneohe sandbar

The Kaneohe Sandbar is one of Oahu’s most unique destinations, and it’s just around 5 miles from the Byodo-In Temple.

The sandbar only gets exposed at low tide, and you can only access it by boat or kayak.

Tour boats at Kaneohe sandbar
Tour boats at Kaneohe Sandbar

Once you are on the sandbar, you are on a beach that is surrounded by ocean on all sides! It’s a very cool feeling.

The easiest way to visit is to join a boat tour that leaves from the He’eia State Pier in Kaneohe. But you can also rent a kayak and paddle to the sandbar.

At the sandbar, you can enjoy the views of the mountains and nearby islands, go swimming or snorkeling, or play beach volleyball.

Dine at Haleiwa Joe’s in Haiku Gardens

Under a 10-minute drive from the Byodo-In Temple is one of our favorite restaurants in Oahu: Haleiwa Joe’s at Haiku Gardens.

Dining here is the perfect way to cap off a visit to the Byodo-In Temple, if you visit in the late afternoon.

Haleiwa Joe’s is set in the midst of lush tropical gardens, with fabulous views of the mountains. And the food is excellent as well!

A view from the patio at Haleiwa Joe's at Haiku Gardens in Oahu, Hawaii
A view of the gardens from the patio at Haleiwa Joe’s in Kaneohe

Just be warned that they do not accept reservations and the wait can be super long. Plan to arrive as soon as they open, to make the first seating.

Best Oahu Tours

Have you booked these popular Oahu tours and excursions yet?

Love snorkeling? This Turtle Canyon snorkeling excursion from Waikiki lets you frolic with colorful fish and Hawaiian green sea turtles. Hands down the MOST BOOKED Oahu snorkeling tour: turtle sightings are guaranteed!

The most popular luau in Oahu, Paradise Cove Luau has a 4.5 rating on Viator with over 3.5K reviews. The tour includes pick-up from your Waikiki hotel, pre-dinner games, arts, and crafts, a delicious meal, and an award-winning show.

Based in Waikiki but want to see more of the island? This full-day Oahu Circle Island Tour includes Diamond Head, Hanauma Bay, Haleiwa, the Dole Plantation, and more!

Pay your respects at the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor! This popular Pearl Harbor tour includes boat tickets and round-trip transport from Waikiki.

A super popular Oahu North Shore excursion, this Oahu shark cage dive allows you to observe wild sharks in the open ocean from the safety of a cage! It’s a THRILLING Oahu adventure for your bucket list.

We have a detailed guide to the top Oahu tours and excursions if you are in the midst of planning your itinerary for the island.

Renting a Car in Oahu

If you want to explore more of the island of Oahu on your vacation, you should get a rental car.

Oahu’s popular attractions are spread over the island: the windward coast, the North Shore, and Ko Olina are great places to explore beyond Waikiki (or the greater Honolulu area).

While Oahu does have public transport options that are better than the other islands, a car offers a lot more flexibility and time savings.

We always use Discover Cars to book Oahu car rentals. They search across a variety of rental car companies, both budget and brand, to offer you the best deals, AND they offer free cancellations. Plus, there are no hidden fees.

>> Check availability and prices on Oahu car rentals now!

A close-up shot of the large bell at the Byodo-In Temple in Oahu, Hawaii
A close-up shot of the bell at the Byodo-In Temple in Oahu

Honolulu Airport-Hotel Shuttle

If you are not planning to get a rental car at Honolulu Airport, consider booking shuttle transport in advance!

This shared shuttle can be canceled up to 24 hours from the date of service. It serves hotels in Waikiki and Honolulu and then back again to the airport the day you leave. It’s convenient and inexpensive, and saves time and hassle!

>> Check prices and availability for shared round-trip airport transfer in Oahu now!

Staying in Ko Olina? Consider this round-trip airport transfer instead!

Where to Stay in Oahu

Honolulu (Waikiki in particular) offers a large number of hotels and resorts, along with shopping and dining options. Most visitors to Oahu choose to base in Honolulu at least for a part of their stay.

While many of the large chains have a presence if you are looking to use your memberships, Honolulu also has several unique boutiques to consider.

Our faves include Halekulani for a splurge stay, the Lotus Honolulu for views of Diamond Head, and The Laylow for its awesome location.

Want more room to spread out or looking to stay elsewhere on Oahu? You will find VRBO listings all over the island!

On previous trips to Oahu, we have stayed in VRBO rentals in Waikiki as well as on the North Shore and the east coast and we’ve found the choice and quality great.

>> Look for an Oahu vacation rental on VRBO now!

Meditation Pavilion at Byodo-In Buddhist Temple in Kauai, HI
Meditation pavilion at the Byodo-In Temple

More Oahu Travel Inspiration

Planning a trip to Oahu? Check out our other in-depth Oahu travel guides for help finalizing your Oahu itinerary!

Start by discovering the best things to do in Oahu. We also have a detailed guide to Oahu’s North Shore, a round-up of things to do on the east side of Oahu, and the best things to do in Ko Olina, on the west coast of the island.

If you ar planning a short first visit to the island, we have the perfect day-by-day 3 days in Oahu itinerary for you!

Of course you’ll want to learn about all the exciting things to do in Honolulu, Hawaii’s capital, and Waikiki, the touristic core of Oahu. We also have an article on the best places to eat in Waikiki!

Check out our guide to the best beaches in Oahu, and a round-up of the best beaches on the north shore of Oahu. Also read about must-visit Oahu waterfalls and botanical gardens in Oahu you have to visit.

Oahu is home to so many must-visit landmarks! Check out our in-depth article on how to visit Pearl Harbor, and our guides on the beautiful Waimea Valley in Oahu and the spectacular Byodo-In Temple.

Want to enjoy the thrill of observing sharks in the wild? Check out our article on shark cage diving on Oahu’s North Shore!

Discover the top places to go snorkeling in west Oahu, where you will find a long coastline with lovely beaches, and tips for snorkeling Kaneohe Sandbar on the island’s east coast as well as the super popular Hanauma Bay.

And if you love marine life, also check out our complete guide to (respectfully!) see and swim with dolphins in Oahu, and the best spots to snorkel with turtles in Oahu.

For hikers and outdoor enthusiasts, we have a round-up of the best Oahu hikes, and if you are looking to exclude the harder Oahu trails, a guide to the best easy Oahu hikes.

Find out how to do the iconic (and VERY popular) Diamond Head Hike near Waikiki for exceptional views. We also have a guide to the very popular Manoa Falls Trail in Honolulu.

More advanced hikers will want to read up on the Koko Head Hike, a long set of stairs leading to expansive views.

Learn where to go for the best sunsets in Oahu, whether you want to hike or enjoy watching a colorful Hawaiian sunset without working up a sweat.

We also have a guide to the best sunrise hikes in Oahu, one of which is the spectacular Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail in the southeastern part of the island. The Lanikai Pillbox Hike is another wonderful sunrise hike on Oahu!

If you are a garden enthusiast, check out our detailed guide to the Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden, our article on the unique Koko Crater Botanical Garden, and our guide to Foster Botanical Garden!

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Learn how to visit the beautiful Byodo-In Buddhist Temple in Oahu, Hawaii. What to see and do, plus hours and fees and what to do nearby.


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