Reprinted with Permission
Editor’s Note: The following articles were part of a column called “Kuroshio – Japan Current” written for The Hawai‘i Herald by Kubota in the 1980s. On November 21, 1978, Maui Jinsha was officially added to the National Register of Historic Places. When this article was written and published, Rev. Torako Arine was still alive; she passed away on May 16, 2014, at the age of 100. The columns have been edited to reflect her passing.
Kubota is a retired and founding director of the Alexander & Baldwin Sugar Museum and former associate in ethnic history and coordinator of the Hawaii Immigrant Heritage Preservation Center of the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum. He lives with his wife, Young-Shin, in Kahului, Maui.
PART ONE — The Hawai‘i Herald (May 16, 1980)
“I am pleased to inform you that the Maui Jinsha Mission was added to the National Register of Historic Places … as a site important to the history of Hawai‘i and the United States.” Tears welled up in the eyes of Rev. Torako Arine when she read these words in an early Christmas present from Jane I. Silverman, State of Hawai‘i Historic Preservation officer. It had been nearly five long years since Bishop Museum Historian John C. Wright, architectural historian Merie-Ellen Fong and architect John T. Jacobsen, AIA, had recommended that such a status be sought for this local Japanese Shintö shrine during a historical sites survey of Maui County contracted to Bishop Museum by the state. But more than that, this was a moment she had been waiting for, ever since the fateful attack on Pearl Harbor resulted in the closing of the shrine and cast a long, dark shadow upon its future.
The Maui Jinsha Mission was organized in 1914 for the purpose of building a centrally located Shintö shrine to serve Japanese immigrants on Maui. The shrine was also built to commemorate the accession of Emperor Yoshihito (the Taishö Emperor). An island-wide campaign (with names of some long-forgotten places appearing in the records) was conducted to raise the then considerable sum of $5,000 for the undertaking. The shrine’s building fund donation records, beautifully written with ink and brush, show that individual donations ranged from a high of $5 to a low of 5 cents. It is poignantly clear that the shrine was built not so much by “large” (in dollars) contributions from leading Japanese community members as by the nickels, dimes and quarters earned by the blood, sweat and tears of several thousand plantation workers.
A parcel of land … in Kahului was leased in 1914 from the Hawaiian Commercial and Sugar Company. Construction of the shrine began the following year. After the sanctuary was completed, an additional $1,000 was needed to build the worship hall. This was raised by $1 donations from 1,000 people, each of whose names were written on one of the horses in the “Thousand Horses” painting by issei Seppo Sawada that hangs over the entrance of the hall.
The chief carpenters who directed construction of the sanctuary and the worship hall, Seichi Tomokiyo and Ishisaburo Takata, respectively, had learned their trade in Japan. In the traditional manner, the posts and beams of the natural finish, all-wood structure were joined without the use of nails. The shrine is an excellent example of Shintö-style Japanese temple architecture.
The leading figure in the establishment of the Maui Jinsha Mission was its first priest, the Rev. Masaho Matsumura. He had come to Maui after establishing a Shintö shrine in Kona. When Mr. Matsumura finally returned to Japan in 1936, he was succeeded by the Rev. Hatsuhiko Koakutsu. Mr. Koakutsu asked Masao Arine, who was born in Keahau Japanese Camp on Maui, to assist him.
Masao’s father, who was not a priest, had built a small Shintö shrine in his home that came to be worshiped at by others. To this family background of Masao’s, the Rev. Mr. Koakutsu added formal training. Through his recommendation Masao Arine was eventually recognized as a Shintö priest by the shrine’s headquarters in Japan.
PART TWO — The Hawai‘i Herald (June 20, 1980)
Just prior to the outbreak of war, Mr. Arine went to Japan for further Shintö training and to find a suitable wife. He met and married the Rev. Miss Torako Yamauchi, a recognized Shintö priestess. Yamauchi was born in Waipahu, but she went to Japan with her mother and siblings at the age of 7 (her father remained at his plantation job for another 10 years). After completing her education in Japan, she returned to the U.S. and lived with relatives in the state of Washington for five years. She returned to Japan in 1939. In November … the Arines returned to Maui to head the Jinsha Mission.
With the outbreak of war, all the Shintö shrines in the islands were closed down. When the Rev. Mrs. Arine was interviewed in 1980, she still vividly remembered how the main entrance to the worship hall of the Maui Jinsha Mission was boarded up by the military police. She also recall[ed] how FBI agents made frequent checks on the shrine, and how her husband was repeatedly taken to the military police headquarters in Wailuku for questioning. She and her husband faced the dilemma with regard to the shrine’s records — particularly the current membership list — would cause trouble for others in the local Japanese community if the authorities obtained them. On the other hand, they could not bring themselves to destroy the history of the shrine. In the end, the records were hidden for the duration of the war in the old shack of an elderly issei bachelor in upcountry Maui.
In early 1943, the Rev. Mr. Arine was interned. He became the lone occupant of a huge barracks at the military camp in Ha‘ikü, Maui. The barracks had served as a temporary detention center for Japanese Americans, most of whom had long since been sent O‘ahu or mainland “relocation centers.” … After about 10 months, as the camp’s lone internee, Mr. Arine was released.
With the shrine closed, Mr. Arine had to take whatever odd jobs he could to support his family. To make matters worse, around the end of 1942 the Arines were told by the Kahului Railroad Company that they had to vacate the two cottages built and owned by Maui Jinsha Mission on the leased property. From then on they lived in the worship hall of the shrine. When the war ended, their situation got worse. They were told that they had to move the shrine from their property. The Arines, who tenaciously hung on to the shrine and its records throughout the war, were able to avoid this ultimate disaster for several years. But finally, under the threat of having the shrine burned down if they did not get off the property, the Arines acceded.
With personal funds, they purchased the current site in Paukükalo for the shrine in 1953.
With the help of others, they slowly moved the shrine to its new location. Most of the structure was taken apart board-by-board and moved in the evening on a borrowed truck. It was reassembled under the direction of chief carpenter Asao Yasuda, a nisei. In November 1954, a few weeks after the shrine was rededicated, Mrs. Arine gave birth to the last of her seven children. This was the only child who had not experienced living in the worship hall. Once the shrine was established in its new location, former members began to visit it again. Many were afraid to have anything to do with Shintö during and immediately after the war.
Mrs. Arine, who to her knowledge at the time had been Hawai‘i’s only Shintö priestess, succeeded her husband when he passed away in 1972. In the early 1980s, the shrine had about one hundred supporters who pay monthly dues. In return for donations, she distributed omamori (talisman) from the parent Ise Shrine in Japan to about 1,000 families in preparation for each new year. Her distribution rounds included many nisei- and sansei-headed families who were maintaining a tradition handed down by the issei.
At the end of the long interview about her experiences, the Rev. Arine remarked, “Now it’s all worth it. I only wish that my husband was still here to share the good news. He would be so happy.” Maybe he is.
Today, Maui Jinsha is managed by Masao and Torako Arine’s seven surviving children: Jane Miller, Susan Tamakawa and Wallace, Robert, Richard and George Arine. According to Tamakawa, while there isn’t anyone to continue regular services at the temple, Rev. Akihiro Okada of the Daijingu Temple of Hawaii flies to Maui to conduct special services such as the annual Aki Matsuri held in September and the Tondo Matsuri in January. For more information about the shrine, call (808) 244-4048 or (808) 877-1472. As an endangered historical place, the temple is continually in need of restoration funds. Donations can be sent to Maui Jinsha Mission, 472 Lipo Pl., Wailuku, HI 96793.