Go-Oh Shrine traces its origins back to the Muromachi (Ashikaga)
period (1338-1573). In recent years, however, the structure had
deteriorated considerably and was slated for reconstruction under the
Naoshima House Project. Called in as artist-designer, I avoided
existing shrine typologies and tried to recreate an imaginary
architecture more in keeping with ancient Japanese Shinto worship.
Prior to shinmyo-zukuri, the first Shinto architectural style formalized in
the seventh century, animist worship is thought to have focused on
sites in nature where some special quality or force was felt | ineffable
gpower placesh | whether in giant trees or waterfalls or boulders. The
ancient Japanese conceived of their kami or deities, as manifesting
themselves only when humans purified their gpower placesh for them.
Thus, my vision of Go-Oh Shrine started from the giant rock slob visited
by the local kami.
The shrine comprises three main parts: the Worship Hall, the Main
Sanctuary, and the Rock Chamber. The massive rock slab completely
cuts off the Worship Hall and the Main Sanctuary from the Rock
Chamber; only the gstairway of lighth joins the celestial and earthbound
From the underground chamber, a concrete-walled passage leads to
the mountainside. Visitors to the shrine first worship at the divine
iwakura (stone seat) and shrine hall, then descend to the gancienth
underground chamber via the concrete passage, lastly taking in a view
of the sea through the portal to the present on the way out.
- Hiroshi Sugimoto