Posted by: softypapa | March 8, 2008

Kamidana God Shelf Set – Japan Old Wooden Shinto Zushi



Antique wooden Japanese Shinto kamidana “god shelf” with assorted new and vintage altar accessories.  This type of small Shinto (native religion of Japan) shrine is commonly used in Japan by families, organizations or business to symbolically house the group’s patron deity.  Kamidana will normally be placed in conspicuous view on a shelf or high wall within an important room such as the family room or in an area where employees or associates work or gather.  Kamidana are also used to house sacred tablets called ofuda (lit “honorable plaque”) which are inscribed with written prayers and sanctified by a priest.  Kamidana are normally not just for show and will commonly receive regular attention from those who live or operate within its sphere of influence.  With my wife’s (Japanese) family for instance, the two kamidana within their home do receive offerings twice daily; once in the morning and again in the evening before supper.  The ritual is always the same, and anyone who wakes up early enough might enjoy watching mother as she takes the first scoops of rice from the cooker and gives these, along with several clear glasses of water, to her husband who delivers the offerings, along with a solemn prayer, to each of the home’s kamidana as well as to their home’s small Buddhist altar (butsudan).  Kamidana (aka zushi) are basically small versions of larger Shinto shrines called Jinja, which are found at the heart of every Japanese community as well as areas of spiritual significance and to mark important natural features such as waterfalls and even the tops of mountains.  Please read below to learn more about Japanese Shinto shrines.

About the Listed Item

The antique wooden kamidana offered here features expert craftsmanship and classic Japanese style, with detailed architectural touches.  The shrine includes double doors providing access to a small sanctuary where ofuda and other appropriate religious items may be placed.  We received this wonderful old shrine from a Japanese soba noodle restaurant located in Shizuoka City, Japan.  The owners of the restaurant are an elderly couple who have run their noodle house in the same downtown location for over 50 years.  The couple has decided to retire and we were fortunate to acquire many items from the restaurant including this lovely, timeworn kamidana.  The kamidana has spent more than 50 years watching over restaurant patrons and serving as the family’s spiritual center for prayers, protection and aid in achieving personal and business goals.  The kamidana is in good condition considering its age and has no major damage though several accessories such as banisters and rails are loose or broken.  We have most of the pieces on hand and will ship these along with the kamidana.  We suspect that someone who is handy with woodcraft might be able to repair and replace the few loose and missing pieces.  This particular kamidana is designed to function as a built-in unit though it can certainly be used as a standalone altar.

To complete the kamidana we have added several new and vintage items which are commonly seen in use with Japanese kamidana.  Included are a new wooden offering tray (sanbou), two vintage ceramic water vessels (tokkuri) as well as a second pair of different sized, vintage painted porcelain tokkuri which are suitable for use as small vases.  A pair of vintage glass offering plates (sara) and a brand new glass water vessel (misuire) are also included.  Additionally, two Japanese offering cups (buppanki) are included.  The buppanki cups are actually more commonly seen in use with Buddhist altars though as we have sometimes seen them used with Kamidana thought it might be nice to include these as well.  Finally, a brand new Shinto ofuda paper-covered wooden prayer plaque is included.  The ofuda comes from the Minowa Inari Shinto shrine located in Shimizu, Japan.  This shrine is the oldest and largest Shinto shrine in Shimizu and the included ofuda is suitable for general purpose usage.

Size of kamidana:
Height: 12.3 inches (31.5 centimeters)
Width: 22.2 inches (57.0 centimeters)
Depth: 6.4 inches (16.5 centimeters)
Weight: 3.2 pounds (1.4 kilograms)

Additional Styles of brand new Kamidana (click link to view available listings):

Click here to see sanctified Shinto ofuda tablets!
here to see additional Shinto items!
here to see more treasures from Japan!

About Japanese Shinto Shrines

At the heart and spiritual center of every Japanese city, town and village are well preserved wooded plots of land which are the sanctuary of Japan’s native deities.  These places, which are called Jinja in Japanese, will invariably include one or more shrines where believers can worship and offer prayers to the gods.  Jinja, and the grounds upon which they reside are used not just for worship, but also as a place for community events, festivals and even as playgrounds.  Most shrines typically consist of a large patch of wooded ground with a gate-like structure called a torii providing passage from the secular world into the spiritual.  Fierce stone dog statues (one is actually a lion) called komainu stand guard along a stone path leading from the torii to the foot of the shrine complex.  Before reaching the shrine, visitors will normally stop to rinse their hands and mouth at a stone water basin (chozubachi) provided for this purpose.  This is done as an act of purification before coming into the presence of the resident deity.  Upon reaching the actual shrine one must typically then ascent a short staircase to a platform where worship may be performed.  Looking through the large structure’s open doors one might spot a second, more secluded building visible beyond the first.  This other building is the actual shrine itself and the true residence of the enshrined deity.  Legend holds that any who improperly enter the inner-sanctuary will be blinded by the magnificent power residing therein, and for this reason most Japanese are happy to pay their respects from the safety of the doorway of the outermost building.  Large Japanese Shinto shrines often have numerous smaller shrines located elsewhere on the shrine grounds.  These smaller structures are often only slightly larger than a doll house and are the symbolic homes of lesser deities who are perhaps in some way associated with the god of the main shrine.

item code: R1S1-0003374
ship code: D

Shinto kamidana available at
Or visit us on eBay at The Old Tokaido

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