- Museum number
Kamidana, a Shinto household altar in the form of a shrine building, made of cypress wood; together with two porcelain vases (sakakitate), two porcelain sake bottles with lids (heiji), two porcelain sake cups (kawarake) and one porcelain lidded bowl (mizutama), sacred mirror and stand, rice-straw rope (shimenawa), base-board and brackets for suspension on wall.
- Production date
Height: 43 centimetres
Width: 62 centimetres
Depth: 30 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- In Japan today, it is common for a household to have both a Shinto altar (kamidana) and a Buddhist altar (butsudan). Kamidana are also found in shops, workplaces and in sporting arenas. The kamidana is usually attached to the upper part of a wall, often in the kitchen. Worship at the kamidana is a simple affair involving first the washing of hands and then a prayer that can be offered by the entire household. Offerings of rice, water, sake and a branch of the sakaki tree are made daily or at least periodically. The specific deity or deities worshipped (shintai) depends on the proclivities of the household. The standard is Amaterasu-no-omikami, the sun goddess, from which the current imperial family is thought to directly descend.
This altar represents worship of Amaterasu-no-omikami through the mirror on a stand, her vehicle (literally a representation of the sun). In front of it are placed small white porcelain offering vessels. Just above the shrine is hung a shimenawa (or ‘enclosing rope’) to ward off evil spirits.
Shinto, meaning ‘way of the deities’, is Japan’s indigenous religion. There are over 80,000 registered Shinto shrines in the Japanese archipelago and over seven million ‘kami’ (spirits or deities) are recognized.
Nagoya is a major centre for producing both Shinto and Buddhist objects. Mr Aoki, the proprietor of Aokiya store, is a member of the architectural conservation group involved in reconstructing the imperial Ise Shrine during its 20-year rebuilding cycle. The cypress wood used to create this shrine is from Gifu Prefecture (the historical Kiso area) and is known for being both lightweight and sporting a clean bright finish, unlike the reddish hue that is standard in most cypress products.
Basic Terms of Shinto. Tokyo: Institute for Japanese Culture and Classics, Kokugakuin University, 1985.
Breen, John and Mark Teeuwen. A New History of Shinto. London: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010.
Bocking, Brian. A Popular Dictionary of Shinto. Lincolnwood, Illinois: NTC Publishing, 1997.
Ono, Sokyo. Shinto: The Kami Way. Tokyo: Charles E. Tuttle Company, 1993.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2017-2018 2 Nov-8 Apr, BM Gallery 35, Living with Gods
- Acquisition date
- Registration number