Aya Okawa

Photographer, Visual Anthropologist
The Last Shinto Shrine on Maui
Location: San Francisco, California.
Nationality: American
Biography: Aya Okawa is an aerial and environmental photographer and visual anthropologist who enjoys shooting landscape transformation, abstract patterns, and documenting the interaction of natural and human systems. Aya's work has been printed in the... MORE
Public Story
The Last Shinto Shrine on Maui
Copyright Aya Okawa 2023
Date of Work Dec 1969 - Dec 1969
Updated Apr 2022
Location Maui
Topics Culture, Diaspora, History, Immigrant, Japanese, Photography, Shinto
Maui's Jinja (Shrine) is over 100 years old, and the last remaining Shinto shrine on the island. It was originally built and attended by the Japanese laborers (like my great grandparents) who had immigrated to Hawaii to work in the sugar cane fields following an agreement between Japan's Meiji Emperor and the Hawaiian King, Kalakaua in 1885. 

Like Shinto and Buddhist temples throughout the Hawaiian islands, these days congregations sizes are waning and many of the wooden structures need repair and upkeep. When my auntie and I visited the Maui Jinja in the winter, the shrine's caretaker, Wally, told us that the woodworkers who had maintained the traditional wood carving in the beams of the temple had either died or were too old to keep up the work. 

The temple is in a quiet residential neighborhood of Wailuku, Maui.
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The Last Shinto Shrine on Maui by Aya Okawa
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