kikuma watanabe designs a movable wooden shinto shrine in the mountains of kochi

kikuma watanabe designs a movable wooden shinto shrine in the mountains of kochi


japanese architect kikuma watanabe creates a self-built, portable shrine in a depopulated village in the mountainous region of kochi in japan. in 2015, the pre-existing shrine called kanamine-jinjathe was demolished by a heavy typhoon that that hit the village. the kanamine shinto shrine had two architectural components: one is the front shrine dedicated to worshipers while the other was the rear shrine, where main shrine was set.

the wheels installed on the rear shinto shrine makes the entire structure portable


the original shrine had its architectural axis geared towards mount gozaisyo-yama — a sacred mountain located ten kilometer from the shrine. the shrine’s site was too narrow and had partly collapsed which resulted in a building that could no longer be maintained anymore. as a solution, kikuma watanabe decided to divide the building into two smaller shrines: the frontal area is a housing area for inhabitants and the worshipers while the rear shrine is set in the forest. additionally, the rear end features eight wheels attached to the bottom of the structure, rendering it portable.

the original shrine had its architectural axis geared towards mount gozaisyo-yama

the frontal view of the back shrine

the rear end of the shrine

the main shrine was built 200 years ago, but was demolished by a disastrous typhoon

the structure of the main shrine

an detailed look of the main shrine

the steel pipe structure used for the scaffolding

the basic structure of the shrine

the wood panelling merges with its surrounding environment

polycarbonate panel built into the roof

process sketch of the project



project info:


location: nakagonyu, saoka, tosayamada town, kami city, kochi pref. japan
owner: inhabittants of nakagonyu + kochi university of technology
year of completion: 2017
architects: kikuma watanabe
structural engineer: syunya takahashi+d environmental design system laboratory
construction: laboratory for design of architecture adapted to environment @ kochi university of technology
building area: 9.00 sqm
total floor area: 4.05 sqm
structure: steel pipe structure for scaffold
materials: steel pipe for scaffold (2000mm long + 3000mm long + 4000mm long) wooden lumber (45mm×45mm×4000mm) wooden board (240mm×24mm×2000mm) polycarbonate plate (670mm×2170mm)
photo credits: kikuma watanabe

  • Interesting, scaffold tube is under valued as a simple framing system IMO.

    Mark Harrison says:

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