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Maui Jinsha Shrine

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1915–1917, Seiichi Tomokiyo, Ichisaburo Takada. 472 Lipo St., off Ukali St.

Tucked in a residential neighborhood, Maui Jinsha Shrine follows the traditional form of a Shinto shrine with its two separate structures, the Haiden (worship space) in the front and the Honden (space for the gods) in the rear. Typical of the nagare style, the shrine has a gable roof that slopes out over the entrance on the non-gable side. The shrine was built of unpainted wood fitted together utilizing the traditional kiwari (proportional) system for design and construction. The buildings are sheathed with 1 × 6– and 1 × 8–inch tongue-and-groove boards.

The Haiden has an irimoya-nagare tsukari (flowing hipped gable) roof and an ornate kōhai (portico). Elbow brackets and handsomely carved beams grace the kōhai. An eight-foot-wide engawa (verandah) provides a transition space between the exterior and interior. Above the entrance to the Haiden is a painting entitled 1000 Horses by artist Seppo Sawada of Wailuku. The painting commemorates the 1,014 individuals who contributed money for the construction of the Haiden. The saddle of each horse bears the name of one of the contributors. Ichisaburo Takada of Wailuku oversaw construction of the Haiden, which was completed in 1917.

The Honden was built in 1915 under the direction of Seiichi Tomokiyo, a Wailuku carpenter who was trained in Japan. It is elevated approximately ten feet above the floor of the Haiden, and is characterized by a kiritsuma-nagare tsukari (flowing gable) roof, which is capped by a ridge beam ornamented with chigi (crossed roof finials) and cylindrical katsuogi (ridge ornament). Tsuma kazari (gable ornaments) decorate the gables and the building sits on posts covered with shiplap siding scored to emulate stone. The Haiden and the Honden are connected by a sixteen-and-a-half-foot-long flight of stairs. Originally open, this passageway was enclosed in the late 1930s, obscuring the exterior view of the Honden's kōhai.

With the entry of the United States into World War II, the shrine was closed by the U.S. government, and in 1942 the Reverend Masao Arine, the shrine's priest, and his family of eight were forced to leave their house. The two side engawa areas of the Haiden were enclosed and the family lived here for the next ten years. After the war the shrine was not reopened, and in 1951, the Arine family was told they had to move their shrine in order to make way for a development project. The present site was purchased in August 1953, and over the course of the following year the Honden, because of its small size and complex design, was moved in one piece, and the Haiden was taken apart and reconstructed on the site. Asao Yasuda, a nisei (or second-generation) plantation carpenter, served as head carpenter for the reconstruction of the Haiden.

Writing Credits

Don J. Hibbard


What's Nearby


Don J. Hibbard, "Maui Jinsha Shrine", [Wailuku, Hawaii], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Hawaii

Buildings of Hawaii, Don J. Hibbard. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2011, 190-191.

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