GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARBULLETIN.COM
The Rev. Daiya Amano blessed Tomoyuki Kajihara and Nelson Yoshimura on Thursday during a ceremony at the Shinto shrine Izumo Taishakyo Mission on North Kukui Street.
The Izumo Taishakyo Mission on Kukui Street celebrates 100 years in the isles
A small Shinto shrine in downtown Honolulu was the destination of about 10,000 people during the New Year holiday weekend.
People of many ethnic and religious backgrounds flocked to the Izumo Taishakyo Mission at 215 N. Kukui St. seeking good-luck amulets and blessings on their endeavors and relationships. Many recognize the annual New Year's pilgrimage as a Japanese cultural experience but don't know a thing about the religion they are observing by the visit.
Early Japanese immigrants built a shrine near the present site 100 years ago, bringing to Hawaii the Shinto religion, an indigenous faith that dates back more than 2,000 years. It teaches that gods, or "kami," are found in all living things and emphasizes the need to be in harmony with all nature.
Next month, the Izumo Taisha congregation will celebrate the centennial with an Oct. 7 thanksgiving service and an Oct. 8 anniversary banquet at the Sheraton-Waikiki Hotel. For information about dinner reservations, at $50 per person, call the shrine office, 538-7778.
The greatest thing the members, some descendants of the founders, will celebrate is the shrine's survival. Like other aspects of Japanese culture, it was shut down by the federal government after the Japanese strike against Pearl Harbor. The late Bishop Shigemaru Miyao and most of the church officers were confined in mainland relocation camps during World War II. The property was "given" to the City and County of Honolulu, and part of the wooden shrine was stored out of sight.
GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARBULLETIN.COM
An exterior view of the shrine. The picturesque wooden building was restored after a fund drive in the 1960s.
In 1952, members gathered 10,000 signatures on a petition to get the property restored. It took nine years, legislative intervention and a state court judgment to restore ownership of Izumo Taisha to the Shinto congregation. In a land exchange, the shrine was moved from the current site of Kukui Gardens to the location beside Nuuanu Stream.
The picturesque wooden building was restored after a fund drive in the 1960s. The A-frame structure, modeled on a classical Japanese shrine in Shimane prefecture, was built in 1922, replacing an earlier building.
A booklet documenting the history will be sold during the centennial festivities.
Most of the 160 members now are "not so young," said the Rev. Daiya Amano. He leads the service at 7 p.m. on the 10th of each month. The timing is part of tradition: "Many immigrants worked in the daytime, so they gathered for services at night."
"Kami is a Shinto god," he said. "Okuninushi No Kami is the main god of our shrine. He specializes in good health, happiness, business wealth, good relationships. This god came from Shimane prefecture. For the first immigrants, that was their main god. In Japan there are different gods at different shrines."
Throughout the year, Amano is called upon to pray for special events in people's lives. "People want blessings for a new baby, a new automobile. Sometimes I go for a new-house blessing, or an office or restaurant." People also call on the priest to bless them at significant ages called "yakudoshi" -- when a man turns 41 or a woman turns 32.
Amano, who came from Japan 17 years ago to serve at the shrine, is only the third priest there. The founding pastor was the Rev. Katsuyoshi Miyao, who, soon after his arrival in Hawaii, was authorized by the U.S. Immigration Service to perform marriages between male immigrants and the picture brides they brought from Japan. When he died in 1935, he was succeeded by his son, who served as head priest for more than 60 years.
About 300 people are expected to come from the main Izumo shrine and other cities in Japan to participate in the celebration.