Namikyoke Inari Shrine, Tsukiji, Tokyo

A Shrine Design Slideshow

by Andrew Keys on April 10, 2012

For the longest, I fixated on our front door. How to frame it juuuuuuust right? Like all my gardens’s other vignettes, I let it grow and evolve organically (figuratively, though literally too), but its “YES!” moment lingered just outside my consciousness for years. It looked so familiar, what I was doing there. Then I saw it: I was building a shrine.

I have a thing for Asian shrines, not to mention temples, spirit houses, and the occasional stupa. They inspire me for all kinds of reasons, and I have more photos of shrines sitting on my hard drive than you can shake an incense stick at. Shrines in Beijing, Tokyo, elsewhere in China, Thailand–where there was shrine, there I was.

Everything about these structures and the stuff that accompanies them fascinates me, from icons to architecture. There’s something about their shape and symmetry I realized I was unconsciously mimicking, in an informal way, in framing my front door. My home has always been somewhat sacred in my mind, and certainly my garden as well. I guess I’d been thinking of them in that way more actively than I knew.

One specific type of shrine you have to go see elsewhere is the spirit house, a Southeast Asian tradition you can read all about here, and see on my shrines Pinterest board too. I didn’t end up with any good photos of spirit houses (except one), which was a shame. At any rate, now that it’s found its purpose, I’ll let you know how things go with my shrine-inspired dooryard, and in the meantime, take a look at these.

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