Heterotopic Practices in Japanese Street Altars and Shrines

incoronata nadia inserra (University of Tokyo)

This paper compares North American “garden heterotopias” occupying the liminal space between private and public, with Japanese urban street altars and shrines, which reflect minimum separation between public and private spaces--especially in overbuilt cities like Tokyo. Citizens view these communal spaces as an extension of their private homes, and participate in both ritualistic and maintenance aspects. I argue that these heterotopic spaces not only connect humans to the natural/supernatural world through Shinto rituals, but also create a dialogue between “divergent contexts” (Magliocco, 2022) through a unique array of practices and behaviors blending public and private--from foodways to decor.

Part of 06-03 Folk Heterotopias [Hybrid], Friday, November 03, 2:30 pm–4:30 pm