iPhone design influences elegant Japanese mini Shinto Shrines


Nope, it’s not a wooden iPhone case. It’s a minimal Shinto Ise Shrine for your home, of course.

Sometimes tradition and technology blend to form a surprising outlet for religious expression. Shinto worshippers are now able to display sacred amulets and holy scriptures in a tastefully elegant yet modern home shrine that looks strangely like an iPhone case. If that case were made out of wood.

Japanese company Moconoco has joined a current market trend toward realizing hi-tech objects in wood. They use domestic cypress and cedar to create a slim case a little larger than an iPhone, bearing the laser-carved logo of the Shinto Ise Shrine. The front of the shrine box easily slides open to hold the relevant religious objects, then closes and stands upright on display.

Shinto home shrines are officially known as Kamidana Shiro, or God Shelf. Each observant home has a shrine, or altar upon which are stored good luck charms, called amulets or ofuda, as well as bits of revered Shinto writings. This altar is often built in the shape of the Shinto Ise Shrine, and traditionally placed in the highest, brightest spot in the house.

With typical Japanese attention to detail, Moconoco purposely developed this diminutive home shrine in a style reminiscent of today’s technology, including the provision of a stand similar to an Apple device stand. A more conventional shrine takes up a significant amount of space in the home, but when so many were displaced to temporary housing after the massive 2011 Japan earthquake, a commonly felt loss was space for a shrine. This shrine painstakingly fills the requirements for a shrine without taking up premium square footage.

More than just bearing the image of the Ise Shrine, the Moconoco shrine includes a window that serves as a tiny opening in the engraved temple, to fulfill a saying. Loosely translated, “The door of Satsumiya opened a little, divine favor comes out little by little.” The box is also imprinted with an old Japanese character representing the word cloud, so that wherever it sits, it can claim to be just beneath the clouds–and therefore in the highest and brightest spot.

Religious observers across the globe are finding ways to bring the practice of their faith into modern times. Moconoco’s tech-familiar Kamidana Shiro provides a way for forward-thinking Shinto followers to maintain ties to their ancient religion.


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