Take a break from busy Waikiki and renew your spirits at the Byodo-In Temple, at the foot of the Ko'olau Mountains in the Valley of the Temples Memorial Park. Established on June 7, 1968, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Japanese immigrants to Hawaii, the Byodo-In is a replica of a 1,000-year-old temple in Kyoto, Japan.
Byodo-In (which means "Temple of Equality") is home to Amida, a carved, gold-lacquered Buddha towering 18-foot-tall. This massive sculpture is the work of Japanese artist Masuzo Inui and is believed to be the largest Buddha carved outside of Japan.
The temple is one of the many island locations that fans of the TV shows "Magnum, P.I." and "Hawaii Five-O" will recognize. More recently, it stood in as the home of the character Sun's father on the first season of the show "Lost."
After making a donation to help support the temple's upkeep, you're invited to ring the bon-sho, a three-ton bronze and tin bell. Ringing the bon-sho is believed to clear the mind of evil and temptation, preparing you to enter the temple. You'll be asked to remove your shoes before entering this place of worship.
The lush grounds and gardens surrounding Byodo-In are just as much of an attraction as the serene temple. Wildlife includes the hundreds of koi in the waters surrounding the temple, turtles, frogs, black swans, peacocks, wild doves, and sparrows. Feeding the koi is a hit with kids, so be sure to purchase a bag of fish food at the gift shop. With a little patience, doves and sparrows will land on your hand and eat the food, too. But don't try to feed the peacocks—they can be testy.
Yelp user Norm G. offers this word of caution, "Even after you wash your hands in the lavatory, your hands will still smell like fish food," but an alcohol-based sanitizer will take care of the problem, so consider packing a small bottle for your visit. Mosquitoes can also be a hassle at Byodo-In, so bring bug spray or pick some up in the gift shop before strolling the grounds.
While public transportation to Byodo-In is available, it does not drop riders off at the temple's entrance, so be prepared for an uphill walk through the Valley of the Temples Memorial Park if you don't drive. If you do, don't leave any valuables in your car if you drive to the temple. Despite its tranquil setting within a memorial park, car break-ins can happen.
The Go Oahu Card is the best choice for maximum savings and flexibility. Your pass includes Byodo-In Temple tickets, plus admission to dozens more top attractions.