Kamidana (神棚 kami-dana, lit. “god's shelf”) are miniature domestic altars provided to consecrate a kami of Shinto. They are most commonly found in Japan, the home of the cult kami.
The sanctuary is typically placed on top of a wall and contains a wide variety of items related to Shinto-style ceremonies, the most prominent of which is the shintai, an object designed to house a chosen kami, thus giving it a physical form to allow worship.
The kami within the shintai is often the deity of the local shrine or one particular to the homeowner's profession. A part of the kami was obtained specifically for this purpose from a shrine through a process called kanjō. Worship generally consists of offering simple prayers, food (for example, rice, fruit, water) and flowers.
Before worshiping in the sanctuary, it is ritually important for family members to purify their hands. In Japanese houses, while a kamidana is maintained, a butsudan.
Keeping a Kamidana
A domestic kamidana is typically installed in your home to consecrate a offends, a kind of charm. Both the kamidana and the offends can be purchased at any large Shinto shrine. Offenses by themselves can be displayed on a counter or in any visible place, as long as they are kept in their protective bags.
However, when an offense is consecrated in a sanctuary, there are several rules that must be followed to ensure proper installation. First, a sanctuary cannot be placed on the floor or at eye level. It must be above the eye level of an ordinary person. Second, it cannot be placed over an entrance, but it must be built in a space that people will not walk below.
Finally, when an offender is consecrated, after removing the bag, it is customary to leave an offer of water, liquor or food in front of the sanctuary, which must be changed regularly. These rules apply to both home and martial arts dojos. Ofuda are replaced before the end of each year. However, the sanctuary can be maintained in the home until they are no longer usable.
What remains beyond Kamidana
In the center of the sanctuary is taima, an insider of the Shintō shrine in Ise, who represents a universal kami. The sanctuary can also include a shimenawa, a sacred rope of twisted rice straw traditionally used to mark a sacred area.