Enchanting Ema: A Magical Interpretation of Shinto-Japanese Beliefs

We propose Enchanting Ema, an interactive and aesthetic Japanese-Shinto style diorama in which traditional wooden boards called "Ema" are hung at shrines in order for kami, the Gods, to receive them. Our goal for Enchanting Ema is to show how interactive and enhanced dioramas can be created using "low tech materials" in order to provide a better learning experience in places such as museums. The term diorama is typically used for static displays of scenes from real life, whereas, our diorama is largely an interpretation. Our interpretation helps the user feel the "magical" properties of this Japanese tradition. We also allow the user to interact with the diorama, by adding new prayers to the scene. In addition, they can even add artificial wind to the scene by blowing on their boards to see the lights flicker, as if they are reacting to the user's input. To construct our diorama we gained inspiration from the works of Teryua Yuken's Paper bag sculpture series a Japanese artist from Okinawa. From there we used origami paper, known as washi, which is made from the bark of the gambi tree to use in place of the prayer boards. We enhanced the material by placing an unnoticeable LED in between the folds of the paper. From there we used conductive thread to create a circuit when the prayer is hung in the diorama. We hope that people will be pleasantly surprised by the addition of light to their prayer when interacting with the diorama and hope that they learn and ask questions about interacting with diorama.

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