Byodo-In Temple, Hawaii

One of the neat places to go in Oahu is Byodo-In Tempe.  If you need an easy day with no big hikes or difficult swims, this is a relaxing place to go.

Now remember: It’s a Buddhist temple and many of the people who go there are devout Buddhists who are going to make offerings and pray. Therefore, you want to keep your voice down while you are on the temple grounds and be respectful, like you would in any church.

The temple is a replica of an ancient temple in Japan, and it was established on June 7th, 1986. The temple was commissioned to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the first Japanese immigrants to come to Hawaii.

It’s $4 to enter, and like many places here on Oahu, you’ll need to bring cash. There are more than a few spots that don’t accept cards.

On the side of the temple you’ll often see vendors who set up and sell all sorts of beautiful works of art. If you need a souvenir for someone back home, this is a great place to get it! The temple shop also sells gorgeous art and Buddhist statues and prayer beads.

However, my favorite thing you can buy there costs $2, and it’s the Koi food. You can feed it to the swans, the koi, or the birds. The temple is a mecca of adorable life, and koi food is perfectly safe for it all.


The pair of black swans were a gift from the country of Australia. I’ve heard there is a peacock, but I’ve never seen it. Both are birds that can be dangerous though, so don’t try to chase or touch them. It’s best to throw the food to them if you want to feed them.

When no one is around and feeding them, I think the koi are fabulous to just sit and watch. They’re very peaceful fish.

Remember to keep your eyes peeled as you are walking around. The first time I was there I almost didn’t notice the turtles sunning themselves in the pond behind the temple, and I missed the frogs entirely.

Also, the flowers are different in every season and all of them are spectacular, so keep an eye out for them. There’s anthurums, hibiscus, irises, ginger, and so much more.

I recommend bringing coins to offer at the various shrines throughout the temple grounds. Even if you’re not Buddhist, it can never hurt to put some good karma into the world.

You may want to bring a few dollars for traditional offerings too like ringing the temple bell to ask the gods favor or making an offering of incense to the statue of Buddha inside the temple.

There are bathrooms behind the gift shop, so if you feed the birds, be sure to wash your hands afterwards. They are wild animals, and wild animals carry all kinds of diseases.

I let the little ones come fly into my hands because I wanted to be snow white, but that’s just me.

Byodo-In Temple in Temple valley is on the rainy side of the island with spectacular mountain views and the occasional rainbow on rainy days. There is very little parking, but in my experience you can find a spot even on a busy day. I’ve been on both a weekend and a week day, and the crowds were about the same.

As always, remember to wear sunscreen when walking around Oahu. It’s not on the equator, but the sun is harsh and you can get burned in only a few minutes.

I went with friends, but it’s definitely a place that I could see myself going alone as well. There plenty of spots to meditate and reflect a little. However if you have kids, maybe don’t bring them. A peaceful Buddhist temple is not a good place for children unless they are well-behaved. Remember: It is a church. You want to be respectful of the people who are there to worship in peace.

Temples in Thailand

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Of course when you are in Thailand, it’s important to go see temples and soak up the different culture.

Some of the temples didn’t allow women, but I went to all the ones that did.

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Thailand is a majority Buddhist county, and unlike South Korea, they really enjoy their gold.

There are golden Buddhas everywhere. Some of them are just painted that color, but others are real gold.

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With the gold Buddhas, you can buy sheets of gold leaf. It helps to support the temple, and you get to press the gold right onto the Buddha.

The photo (above) is of one such Buddha, covered in real gold.

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I sat down to talk to some monks at a “Monk Chat.” They couldn’t talk directly to me, so they spoke through a man who was willing to rely my questions.

Mostly, I asked about why they became monks. The answers varied, but for the most part, they had families who were poor and they needed a place to live.

Everyone tries to follow the teachings of the Buddha, but they seemed to convey the thought that becoming a monk is about finding a place in the world when you need one. They also take and care for sick people if their families can’t.

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Much like in a Muslim church, it is important to be covered. When I went looking at temples, I brought a shawl with me to make sure my body was covered.

They do offer shawls at some of the temples that you can use, but I brought my own because I have sensitive skin.

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The architecture is really beautiful and unique. Of course Thailand is perfectly modern and they have modern buildings which are just plain towers.

However, with temples they try to use the traditional architecture. The detail is amazing!

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This is one of the temples that women weren’t allowed in (above) so I don’t know what was inside.

I thought about trying to peer in, but unfortunately it seemed disrespectful so I couldn’t bring myself to do it.

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Even the neighborhood shrines are really neat. I had a tuk-tuk driver who took me around for a day, and he brought me to his local neighborhood shrine to offer a prayer for a good day.

Of course I donated to the temple, as is expected. I thought it was nice that he would think of bringing tourists there as a way to help improve his neighborhood.

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This is the prayer the monk offered me in thanks for my contribution. He also gave me some incense to light for the Buddha in the temple.

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Each house in the nicer neighborhoods has a little miniature house in front of it.

Many are made to look like the homes they are in front of, and they are meant to be a place for spirits to stop and rest.

Offerings of food, flowers, and alcohol are often left inside.

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I even visited some of the ancient temples that they are trying to restore, in order to preserve Thailand’s history.

You can see the yellow railings around it, because it’s not open to the public during restoration. But it was still cool to have a look.


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This is a sign detailing the money being put into the project, and the history of different depictions of Buddha through time.

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Behind most temples is a smaller and less grand building where the monks live. This is a dormitory.