Once considered an out-of-the way, alternative site for a niche group of spiritual tourists, the Byodo-In Temple in Kahaluu, Oahu, is now instantly recognizable by fans of ABC’s hit television series Lost as the setting of the season one episode, “House of the Rising Sun.” Situated in the Valley of the Temples Memorial Park, amidst the magnificent 2,000 foot-tall Koolau Mountains, this temple is an architectural marvel built entirely out of concrete, without the use of even a single nail! There are guided tours such as Circle Island Tours of Oahu that can take you there.

The Byodo-In was built in the 1960s to commemorate the centennial anniversary of the first Japanese workers who came to Hawaii in search of jobs on the sugar plantations. The temple is a full-scale replica of the original Byodo-In, a 950 year-old Buddhist temple located in Uji, Japan, and its Japanese influence can be seen in nearly every aspect of its design. The temple is surrounded by an expansive Zen-style garden featuring stone walkways, wide green lawns and a 2-acre, man-made pond in which beautiful black swans and a school of Japanese koi fish swim.

Byodo-In Temple in Kahaluu - Digytalia

Also located on the grounds are a meditation temple and a 3-ton brass peace bell that is customarily rung by visitors before they enter the temple. Said to bring happiness and blessings to those who ring it, the chimes of this bell can be heard throughout Kahaluu. Inside the Byodo-In Temple rests the largest wooden statue of Buddha made in the last 900 years. 52 smaller sculptures of Boddhisattvas (enlightened beings) are depicted around the Buddha in various poses: dancing, floating on clouds, or strumming musical instruments.

Despite achieving its 15 minutes of fame on national television, the Byodo-In remains a place of tranquility that offers a much-needed refuge from the bustle of areas like Honolulu and Waikiki. The scent of fresh lavender, the chirping sparrows and the peacocks that freely roam the grounds of the temple offer an enticing escape for local residents and tourists, and the temple’s non-denominational status invites those of all faiths and backgrounds to come partake in some private moments of meditation.

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