Top Picks: Byodo-In Temple (Wildlife Sightings, Koi Pond, Windward)
This was one of our most memorable activities of the trip, and for some reason I almost had us skip it thinking it was just some run of the mill temple, I’m so thankful I didn’t because it is so much more! It cost a whopping $3 a piece to enter and has a great parking lot and restrooms. We got a little turned around trying to find the place because the address was one of those funny ‘47-200’ numbers, so I saw it was in the GPS under attractions and used that instead. We found ourselves in a real nice little neighborhood, but it wasn’t the temple we were looking for. There was a friendly woman who gave us great directions to find the place, you must actually enter a cemetery and follow the signs to get to the temple entrance (The Valley of the Temple’s Cemetery address is 47-200 Kahekili Highway Kaneohe, HI 96744, but you may want to write some google maps directions down). Once you cross the little bridge from the parking lot onto the grounds you are smacked with the most majestic sight of the temple, the pond, and the mountains coupled with pure serenity. It is absolutely stunning. Elegant black swans greeted us almost immediately, we would soon find out how hungry they were (I packed bread to share with the birds)! First we rang the epic bell and listened to it resonate, then we got back to the birds. Lots of birds here all with different personalities. The swans were actually polite whereas the sparrows shocked me by taking the bread right from my hands. It was such an unexpected thing for these little guys to swoop in out of midair! We spent a good deal of time feeding these guys, the koi, and looking at the turtles at the pond even before we entered the temple. It is modest inside, you will greet Buddha, but if you are like me probably want to get back to the animals and exploration quickly. So the koi pond in front of the temple was alright, but the one in the back is off the hook. They have a section blocked off that is teeming with koi, so if you throw in some bread it is a free for all. Amazing to watch the fiery colors and mayhem! We loved it. There is a little gift shop out back and we bought a bag of feed ($2, same price as Moanalua Garden but much much smaller amount of feed) and went to town. Here variations of doves, sparrows, and pigeons were loving the free meal (for some reason they wouldn’t eat the bread we had, we had to give them feed), landing right on our hands and giving us the best laughs. We walked around some more trying to explore the rest of the temple grounds and saw some zen sights, turtles, and shy plovers. We walked around a short muddy trail of a bamboo forest, it was graffiti’d. We bought more feed because we are bird feeding addicts and sat by the lake to get our kicks again. It’s the little things in life. After some time we knew we had to go, and on our way out we saw lots of cats in the cemetery. Couldn’t recommend visiting this peculiar and enthralling place, much worth the entrance fee.