- Kami-shelf or altar. A miniature Shinto shrine often with scaled-down torii and shimenawa found in the home and in business premises. The practice of keeping a kamidana increased substantially during the Meiji period. A common type of kamidana consists of little shrines side by side in which are enshrined the deity of the local shrine (chinju no kami, and see Ujiko) and very often as well a tutelary or ancestral deity particular to the occupants or their profession. Since the Meiji period it has been customary for kamidana also to incorporate amulets from Ise (taima) or an o-fuda. Daily offerings (shinsen) of rice, salt and water are made, with special offerings of sake and other foods on special days. O-fuda are renewed at New Year and the shrine may receive an annual visit from the priest of the local shrine whose bunrei the kamidana enshrines. Kamidana in work premises such as restaurants and traditional industries may be dedicated to prosperity deities such as Ebisu or Daikokuten. Kamidana are also found at railway stations, police stations and on board ships; in the latter case the kami enshrined is likely to be a kaijin such as Kompira.See also Yashikigami.
A Popular Dictionary of Shinto. Brian Bocking.