Architect Naohiko Shimoda’s interpretation of a kamidana—a small altar or “god shelf” that’s part of a tradition to bring Shinto shrines into private spaces—strays from the simple ledges most often found in Japanese homes. Designed with an intricate foundation and slatted roof, the wooden structure lines an inner corner and is installed high on the wall following the custom. The precise and detailed construction is built on a 1:1 scale, allowing it to “be regarded as architecture with unique proportions and beauty.”
The size of many Japanese houses today limits the placement of the miniature shrines, Shimoda says, which spurred the original 2018 design that’s similar in style but wraps around an outer corner. “Unlike other architectures, the kamidana is usually represented only in the front half of the building. It makes people imagine ‘something behind’ that was not represented and (setting it up) in a corner make it even more effective,” he says.