Photos: Courtesy of Matt Thayer
Article Written By: Michael Keany, HONOLULU Magazine
What is it?
The Maui Jinsha Shinto Shrine is the only remaining original Shinto shrine on Maui, out of six which once served the island’s Japanese population, and one of very few left in the entire state. The shrine was originally constructed in Kahului in 1915, but when new development plans for the area threatened demolition, the congregation moved the entire shrine to it current Paukukalo site over the course of an entire year, finishing in 1954.
What threatens it?
Age, both of the structure itself, and the congregation which has traditionally cared for it. “My mother is 94, and many of her congregation have already passed away,” says Wallace Arine. “The old carpenters who used to come help, they no longer can do the job.”
As a result, the years and the ocean spray have taken their toll. When Mason Architects examined the structure in 1999, it found a “significant loss of structural integrity.” Problems include termite damage, rotted beams and extreme weathering. Sections of the exterior ornamentation have even fallen off.
What can be done?
The shrine is listed on both the state and national registers of Historic Places, but it really needs a champion to step in and take an active role. “There are grants out there for churches and places of worship,” says Maui historian Barbara Long. “The problem is that there’s just no one to lead the charge right now.” She estimates it would take $750,000 to repair the shrine, not including the $80,000 required to restore the large painting above the front door.