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in the Shinto religion of Japan, a memorial altar dedicated to the spirits of deceased ancestors. The tamaya is not found in all homes observing Shinto because Buddhist practices dominate Japanese funerary rites. But in priestly or strict Shinto households, the tamaya is placed on a lower level than the commonly found family altar, the kamidana ("god-shelf"). It contains a mirror or a tablet (tamashiro) listing the names of the deceased family members

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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