Posted by: softypapa | April 16, 2008

Ise Grand Shrine God Shelf Japan Shinto Kamidana Zushi



Antique wooden Japanese Shinto kamidana ‘god shelf’ with custom fitted ofuda from the grand shrine at Ise.  This type of small Shinto (native religion of Japan) shrine is commonly used in Japan by families or even organizations and 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 high quality antique wooden kamidana offered here features expert craftsmanship and classic Japanese style, with detailed architectural touches.  The shrine includes double doors at the front which can be opened though these do not provide access to the sanctuary within which can only be reached by removing the roof.  The roof section of the kamidana can be removed by pulling carefully and simultaneously at both end of the roof.  Removing the roof reveals fitted joints which attach the roof to the body.  Once the roof is removed there is a custom built wooden box within which can be slid out of the kamidana.  The inner box is very well made and held together with bamboo pins.  A fitted lid on the box comes off to reveal a large antique ofuda within.  The ofuda is from the grand shrine at Ise Japan which is the country’s most revered jinja and a site dedicated to the sun goddess Amaterasu.  This ofuda seems to have been specially designed for use with this kamidana (or vice versa) as it slides into the box such that there is virtually no gap between the sides of the ofuda and the wooden box.  These manufacturing tolerances are amazing to consider as it is almost impossible to slide a thin metal ruler between the gap!  Additional marks of quality are the beveled molding and exceptional joinery used in constructing the kamidana.  Altogether this is one of the nicest kamidana which we have had the pleasure to acquire and bring to market.  Please refer to the size chart below for links to additional listings for different sizes and styles of kamidana.

Height: 16.5 inches (42.2 centimeters)
Width (across top): 9.8 inches (25.2 centimeters)
Depth (across top): 5.8 inches (14.8 centimeters)
Weight: 5.9 pounds (2.7 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!

Note about buying Japanese Shinto antiques
Many Shinto items such as ofuda, omamori, hamaya and shimenawa are thought to have limited powers which diminish over time.  Japanese people therefore commonly dispose of such items each year in special burning ceremonies called dondoyaki, which are presided over by Shinto priests and performed on the grounds of the shrine.  However, many Shinto items are not burned and may find new life as cherished religious items, sometimes with foreigners practicing Shinto outside Japan.  Many of the Japanese we have discussed this with (including a Shinto priest) have been pleased to learn that old items of their native faith are often well received by Shinto believers abroad.  However, we are sensitive to the fact that some may prefer to see their old Shinto items burned and for this reason we do offer a free disposal service.  Anyone who wishes to have their Shinto items properly destroyed in a dondoyaki ceremony may send the items to us which we will hold and take to our local Shinto shrine for sanctioned disposal.  Please contact us in advance if you wish to use this complementary service and we will provide you with the appropriate mailing address.

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: R1S1-0004840
ship code: 660x510x420 or appropriate

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

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