Soreisha (ancestral altar) (祖霊舎)

Soreisha (or Mitamaya) are household altars that are used in Shinto to enshrine ancestral spirits. They are a type of interior shrine. They are also called reisha, tamaya, tamadana, tamatoko and shintodan. Jinja-Honcho (The Association of Shinto Shrines) calls such altars reisha. Facilities in Shinto shrines for enshrining the spirits of deceased ancestors are identified with a sign saying 祖霊社 (the reading for which is "soreisha", meaning ancestral shrine) rather than 祖霊舎 (the reading for which is also "soreisha", meaning ancestral altar). Soreisha were introduced as an alternative to Buddhist alters in conducting Shinto religious services for ancestors.

They are placed below a Kamidana (a household Shinto altar hung high on a wall in a cupboard or on shelf). The direction of installation and the manner for making daily offers to the alter and worship are the same as for household Shinto alters, but offers and worship should be done after household Shinto altars. It corresponds to a Buddhist altar in Buddhism. While Buddhist alters are originally for enshrining Buddha statues, soreisha enshrine ancestral spirits for being guardian deities for the houses, and this is the major difference between them. A sacred jewel is placed at the center for enshrinement.

[Original Japanese]