For over 1300 years, the Kamado Shrine has stood at Mount Homan in Daizafu, Fukuoka, bearing witness to cycles of blooming cherry blossoms and brilliant fall foliage. A more recent addition to the site, a visitor’s center and juyosho (amulet store) designed by the design agency Wonderwall and opened in 2012, introduces a boldly modern aesthetic to the centuries-old Shinto outpost, reminding us that this historic site is still very much alive.
Inspired by the image of a kamado, or a round cooking hearth, the Kamado Shrine juyosho interweaves circular geometries into a site demarcated by predominantly straight-lined architecture. At the center of the space sits a bottom-lit, circular console, where visitors can peruse some of the talismans and charms for sale. A curving counter arcs around the island console, where an even wider selection of amulets and charms fans out, each object occupying its own sacred space in a rainbow of options.
While the pink marble cladding, glistening white sakura motifs, and curving glass façade speak of modern reinvention, the interior of the juyosho responds faithfully to custom: as in other Shinto shrines, visitors are invited to purchase wooden plaques or ema, on which they can write their prayers and hang them up on racks where they might catch the gaze of Shinto deities like Tamayorihime no Mikoto, the god of love and matchmaking to whom the Kamado Shrine is dedicated. Slender tables stand along the periphery of the space, where hopeful worshippers can access small drawers of colored markers and inscribe wishes on their ema while admiring the panoramic view through the floor-to-ceiling glass.
The choice to commission Wonderwall, a firm that has built its reputation on designing shop interiors for brands like Bape and Uniqlo, speaks to the long threads of culture that connect the preserved arcadia of sites like the Kamado Shrine with the stimulating commercial environments that characterize parts of present-day Tokyo. As Wonderwall founder Masamichi Katayama once philosophized, shopping can be a deeply meaningful experience for the Japanese: “We believe in the power that having something gives to us, and we believe in its power to change our lives,” Katayama explained. For decades, Wonderwall has sought to design interiors that redeem the spirituality of the shopping experience, an intention that finds a place in the streets of Shibuya as well as a thousand-year-old, mountainside shrine.