The Byodo-In Temple
Valley of the Temples Memorial Park
Kahaluu, O’ahu, Hawaii
The Byodo-In Temple is located at the foot of the Ko’olau Mountains in Valley of the Temples Memorial Park. It was established on June 7, 1968, to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the first Japanese immigrants to Hawaii. The Byodo-In Temple in O’ahu is a smaller-scale replica of the over 950-year-old Byodo-in Temple, a United Nations World Heritage Site in Uji, Japan.
The Byodo-In Temple is a non-practicing Buddhist temple which welcomes people of all faiths to worship, meditate or simply appreciate its beauty. The temple grounds are often used for wedding ceremonies for Hawaiians or visitors from Japan.
The Temple grounds are a lushly landscaped paradise nestled in a cleft of the pali and are home to wild peacocks and hundreds of Japanese koi carp. The beautiful grounds include a large reflecting pond, meditation niches, and small waterfalls. Visitors describe this destination as beautiful, peaceful, and restful.
The TV series Hawaii Five-O and Magnum, P.I. featured several episodes where the temple is incorporated into the plot. The temple and its gardens also appeared in an episode of the ABC series Lost, “House of the Rising Sun” in season one as the home of Sun’s father.
The Byodo-In Temple is a Hawaii State Landmark. When you visit the Byodo-In Temple, you are truly experiencing one of Hawaii’s best kept secrets
Your first stop along the North Shore will be charming Haleiwa, about a one-hour drive from Waikiki. More than the laid back surf town it seems, Haleiwa is filled with local style and country ambiance as well as cool surf shops and boutiques, understatedrestaurants and charming art galleries.
Rich with island history, Haleiwa is now the social and artistic hub of the North Shore. Here you’ll find surfers fueling up at the restaurants in its plantation era buildings before hitting the famous beaches of Waimea Bay, Ehukai (Banzai Pipeline) and Sunset Beach. You’ll also find locals and visitors shopping, eating and winding down after a day in the sun. Haleiwa is a far cry from the excitement of Waikiki, and that’s exactly how the people of the North Shore like it.
The History of the Nuuanu Pali Lookout
The Pali Lookout is at a junction between the edge of the Ko’olau Mountain ridge and a one thousand foot cliff overlooking Kaneohe Bay and Kailua. It makes a great place to view the windward side of Oahu, but passing through still seems like it was a daunting and dangerous endeavor. In 1831 a visitor to the islands named Reverend Reuben Tinker attempted to make his way through this pass. Being the most direct rout, he was encouraged by the natives to proceed to the windward side via the Pali Lookout, but his actual passing was a bit less than convenient:“The pass was almost too fearful to be enjoyed. I suffered from apprehension lest I should fall from the rocky steep. I took off my shoes and by setting my feet in the crevices of the rock, I worked myself along, assisted by a native, who saw nothing to wonder at but my awkwardness and fear on passing this grand highway.”
The Pali Lookout’s sheer face is thankfully not currently being used as a means of traversing the island’s soaring mountain ridges. There are tunnels drilled through the cliffs that serve that function currently. If you ever find yourself overlooking this area you might be able to understand Mr. Tinker’s hesitance at proceeding through at this point when you peek over the edge and feel the roaring winds accompanying the sheer rocky cliff-face.
Battle of Nuuanu
Aside from being a noteworthy pass and impressive view, the Pali Lookout is famous as the location of the last stand of Kalanikupule and the warriors of the Kingdom of Maui. In 1795 King Kamehameha of Hawaii’s Big Island set his sights on the island of Oahu in his bid to unite the Hawaiian Islands under one rule. Fresh off of victories over the forces of the islands of Molokai, Lanai, and Maui, Kamehameha had momentum on his side. He also had the advantage of being trained and outfitted with modern military techniques and equipment, a new resource that the forces of Kalanikupule were only just starting to teach themselves to use. Having earlier recruited two Englishmen — John Young and Isaac Davies — to help him understand this new way of waging war, Kamehameha was certainly at a tactical advantage over his foe. This allowed him and his ten thousand soldiers to paddle directly into the heart of the Oahu Hawaiians’ territory at Waikiki beach, and immediately push the forces back. A chief named Kaiana, who was once an ally of Kamehameha, joined the forces of Oahu at the last second, but their combined efforts did little to withstand Kamehameha’s push. Kalanikupule’s warriors fought back as best as they could, but they were eventually pushed into the valley, where they made their last stand at the Pali Lookout. The ensuing clash is now known as the Battle of Nuuanu, and marks a pivotal transition for Hawaiian society. Facing total defeat, over four hundred of the defenders of Oahu were pushed to their death over the thousand foot cliff-side here. Kalanikupule himself escaped the fray, seeking refuge in the surrounding cliffs, but he was eventually captured and sacrificed to Kamehameha’s war god, Kū-ka-ili-moku, marking the ultimate end of the Kingdom of Maui that had previously controlled much of Hawaii. Kamehameha the first had achieved his goal of uniting the Islands of Hawaii after this historic victory that is considered to be the bloodiest in Hawaiian history. For an individual who while growing up in the Waipio valley was referred to as the “lonely one,” uniting the islands under his rule was certainly a great way to surround himself with followers and friends. This historic event in Hawaiian history marked the a major switch in the transition from traditional Hawaiian life to more modern living practices across the Islands. Kamehameha’s efforts may have expedited the decline of certain Hawaiian customs and practices, but it also helped to ensure that the Hawaiian people were viewed not simply as savages but as an organized and capable society in the eyes of an ever increasing western presence. Without this unification, the Hawaiian monarchy may never have been officially established, and the hundred or so years worth of sovereign rule that followed this merger would have likely instead have been replaced by colonial attempts to divide the unorganized islands up among various western powers (a situation that would have proved devastating for any preservation of Hawaiian culture). With such significance surrounding it, the Nuuanu Pali Lookout should be a must see for anyone visiting the Hawaiian Islands. The howling winds and astounding view found at this rain-forest surrounded location can easily transport you and yours back to a time when life on Hawaii was much simpler. Simply imagine making your way down to the shimmering coastal waters of the Windward Oahu coast laid out before you (without the aid of any cars and tunnels), and you will surely understand why the native Hawaiians had such a close tie to their island home.
King Kamehameha Statue, Oahu
A great warrior, diplomat, and leader, King Kamehameha I united the Hawaiian Islands into one royal kingdom in 1810 after years of conflict. You can still visit the Nuuanu Pali Lookout today, the site of the Battle of Nuuanu, a crucial conflict that helped Kamehameha conquer Oahu.
Kamehameha’s unification of Hawaii was significant not only because it was an incredible feat, but also because under separate rule, the islands may have been torn apart by competing western interests. Today, four commissioned statues stand to honor King Kamehameha I, Hawaii’s first king.
The most recognized Kamehameha statue stands in front of Aliiolani Hale (home to the Hawaii State Supreme Court) across from Iolani Palace and a short walk from historicKawaiahao Church and the State Capitol. Dedicated in 1883, this was actually the second statue created after the ship delivering the original statue from Europe was lost at sea near Cape Horn. This original statue was later found and was erected in North Kohala onHawaii’s Big Island near King Kamehameha’s birthplace.
Sculpted by Thomas Gould in Florence, this 18-foot bronze statue of Kamehameha is one of Oahu’s most photographed landmarks. Every June 11th, on Kamehameha Day, this statue is ceremoniously draped with wreaths of flower lei to celebrate Hawaii’s greatest king.