By JENNIFER SINCO
HONOLULU — A Honolulu Shinto shrine won’t change its honor system, even after surveillance footage posted online showing four people stuffing $1,000 worth of spiritual trinkets into bags led to a threat to sue the shrine.
“We’ll keep it open,” Shinken Naitoh, the chairman of the shrine’s board, said Friday. “We trust our community.” Hawaii Kotohira Jinsha-Hawaii Dazaifu Tenmangu uses an honor system and seeks a minimum donation of $7 for each amulet, or omamori.
The shrine recently received a letter from a Honolulu attorney representing the four Japanese tourists featured in the February footage the shrine posted on YouTube. The lawyer threatened to sue, saying it the tourists’ images were posted without consent. YouTube later took down the video, citing a violation of terms of service.
“If a video you’ve recorded features people who are readily identifiable and who haven’t consented to being filmed, there’s a chance they’ll file a privacy complaint seeking its removal,” states a notice on YouTube.
Naitoh said board members have chosen not to publicize the attorney’s name, or the names of those in the video, with the hopes of moving on, and perhaps, teaching them a lesson.
“As much as we’re irritated by her representation of the thieves, it’s not our intention to harm them or her,” he said. “As much as we don’t condone their actions, we’ve got to put this behind us.”
The board has identified the men and woman in the video and board members were in the process of reporting their names to Honolulu police and the Japanese consulate, Naitoh said.
“We are going to rely on them, the proper authorities, to take proper action,” he said. The video showed the group discreetly taking the amulets. Shrine leaders said about 150 omamori were taken and only $6 was left in the donation envelope.
The shrine has become well-known among tourists for its Hawaii-themed omamori. The small amulets are considered sacred, symbolizing luck and personal protection.