Beautifully minimal Buddhist micro-altars are designed for mourning in a modern world


Keita Suzuki has redesigned Buddhist prayer altars for micro-sized Tokyo apartments.

Buddhists all around the world will be cheerful at the news that a company has started to make micro-altars for modern living trends. In a time when many of us have limited space in our homes and every centimeter counts, having an altar for the deceased in one’s home can sometimes be a little bit complicated. For Buddhists, and indeed many other faiths, an in-home altar is an absolute necessity, and that is why it is so wonderful to see that a company has identified this problem and is doing something to solve it.


The place where the benefit of these smaller altars will be felt most of all is in Japan. The younger demographic is living in smaller and smaller apartments in urban areas, like Tokyo. Essential amenities needed for survival are tough to pack into the tiny square footage, let alone the room needed for a full-sized altar. Keita Suzuki has designed a line of micro-altars called Shinobu, that preserve the original functionality of altars, but in a compact form. Suzuki knew that many people would simply not be able to have an altar in their home unless it was of a small size, and that is why he has come up with a creative effort that redesigns the Buddhist altar for the modern world.

“Fundamentally, the act of mourning shouldn’t have rules and standards. I wanted to create an object that allows the individuals left behind to mourn in the fashion that they feel comfortable in,” said Suzuki.

The word Shinobu is a Japanese verb that means “Reminiscing the past person (or place), and thinking about them with nostalgia.”


All of the required tools are included, and they have been created to take up a very small space; the sort of size that a shoe box would take on a shelf. Exquisite materials such as Birdseye Maple and Bamboo are used. The altars are a minimalist piece of art. Designer Keita Suzuki hopes to circumvent the decline in Buddhism throughout Japan with his new product design.


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