kamidana: Shinto altar


kamidana store 1

A kamidana for sale in a religious goods store. Note the simplicity of color and design of kamidana, compared to the butsudan altars you saw on the previous page of this website.


kamidana store 2

Here are some more tiny kamidana for sale. Unlike Buddhist altars, kamidana never depict Shinto gods' faces or bodies in painting or sculpture. They are simply believed to reside behind the closed doors of the kamidana.


youth hostel dining room

Notice how kamidana are placed high in a room.


temple kitchen

Here is a kamidana in the kitchen of a very large temple. It is behind the hanging lamp, above the 3 very large rice kettles. Notice the Shinto torii gate in front of the kamidana.

Kamidana are altars to Shinto gods (kami) found in people's homes or sometimes workplaces. Unlike butsudan which are large cabinets that sit on the floor, kamidana are much smaller and simpler in design, and are placed on a high shelf in a room, usually at a height that is above most people's heads.

Having a kamidana in the home or workplace allow people feel that their Shinto deities are nearby, looking over them to offer protection or good fortune. In return, offerings of sake (rice wine), fruit, rice, or other items are made.

Design features of a traditional Japanese house

tokonoma: decorative alcove | genkan: entryway | shoji and fusuma: paper wall panels | butsudan: Buddhist altar | kamidana: Shinto altar | ofuro-ba: bathing room | oshi-ire: closets

Other links

test yourself | model-building project | traditional Japanese house HOME PAGE