Nagaoka ButsudanNagaoka Household Buddhist Altars

It is informed by each places of the whole country Nagaoka Butsudan with the opening that carpenter specializing in building shrines and temples, master craftsman of Buddhist image, engraver, painter (master) who gathered dealt with Household Buddhist Altars production as side job during winter to build temple, main shrine in area around Nagaoka-shi in the about 17th century. In the early 19th century, Household Buddhist Altars came to be managed as local industry.
Custom to worship mortuary tablet in each house settles in this as a result of policy to protect the Jodo Shin sect of Buddhism that Nagaoka feudal clan went to, and people seeking Household Buddhist Altars increase, and this is because Household Buddhist Altars spread out.

During the 17th century, a number of temples and shrines were built in and around the city of Nagaoka. It seems that the specialist carpenters, sculptors of Buddhist images, sculptors of other carved elements and lacquerers who had come into the area from all over the country because of this building work, started making household Buddhist altars during the winter months.
Then, during the first half of the 19th century, a production center became established in the area. This had a lot to do with the fact that the Nagaoka clan gave its official patronage to the Jodo Shinshu. As a result, the demand for household altars increased as the worship of Buddhist mortuary tablets took hold, and homes throughout the fief were furnished with them.

Because the upper cabinet and lower stand of the Nagaoka Butsudan can be separated, it is possible to re-apply surface coatings of lacquer periodically, over say 30 to one hundred years. The ""trinity style"" of roofs of the kuden or inner part of the altar is a noteworthy feature. Traditional in style, there is a combination of Chinese style gable and a more conventional gable with a rising profile above further Chinese style gables to either side.

  • Notification

    skills and techniques

    Structure of "bare wood" is sectional thing by "tenon composing type".

    Throw, "throw bracken type, and "throw bow type, and do" doing or do"; tosurukoto.

    Palace structure is thing by "board composing type".

    When the painting assumes purified lacquered hand coating and looks good with "getting out grain of wood coating", do "roiro finish".

    Do lacquer work and gold leaf push.

    Raw materials

    Assume bare wood material having materials which are equal to Japanese white pine, hiba, zelkova, hoo, yew or hinoki or these.

    Metal fittings have materials which are equal to copper or copper compound metal or these; being made of metal.

    Assume lacquer natural lacquer.

  • Work scenery

    Process of manufacture begins for the making of bare wood and we greatly divide until the last assembling and are divided into six processes. Of course it does not need to say that each process repeats more complicated processes.

    Process 1: Bare wood

    We use short pine, ho, zelkova, hinoki, hiba, yew for bare wood. At first we make use of grain of wood of the cross grain and saw up raw woods. We dry and we do dimensions collecting using one long stick "shakutei" (shakujo) and cut afterwards. Bare wood craftsman measures dimensions in standard by number and letter of several kinds written down in this shakutei. We process materials cut according to dimensions with plane or chisel and we finally do in tenon composing type and finish in this way. The making of palace (eat we do not appear) is carried out at the same time.

    Process 2: Sculpture

    We use "flat carving" and technique to carve so that "stack carving" to carve "carving in the round" to thin pressure board from the front and back to show three-dimensional impression, and to carve and one piece of thin board with sculpture, and to pile up is seen to thickness materials to sheet properly. As for the carving in the round, carving that thought about far and near of design is given board using thing which is higher than 3 centimeters of thickness.

    Process 3: Metal fittings

    We perform repousse work with copper sheet and brass board and we color and produce.

    Process 4: to

    We dismantle Household Buddhist Altars which crosses, and was performed mind of by process of bare wood and paint with lacquer. We dry this with humidity and we polish the surface and finish with a coat of lacquer more. We repeat these a series of work for at least three months.
    In the case of to, there are kinds such as "sand powder coating" that "lacquered inlaid mother-of-pearl ware" studded with fragments of abalone shellfish covers with sand, and "aventurine lacquer coating" that "ryoshoku (roiro) coating" that controlled luster winds up money and silver, aventurine lacquer powder of bell and finishes finishes on the rough surface "getting out grain of wood coating" to give grain of wood vividly. We make use of lacquer original deep luster and we change and bring about magnificence and dignity by inflection of coating.

    Process 5: Lacquer work

    Flower and chicken and person are homemade, and they are drawn. Technique includes "flat lacquering" and "lacquer assortment lacquer work", and "lacquer assortment lacquer work" to paint with lacquer particularly many times, and to heap up part of pattern is technique that is effective though not only we make three-dimensional impression, but also direct solemner atmosphere.

    Process 6: Gold leaf push

    Lacquer ware maker puts pure gold leaf on finished thing. Work is carried out by one piece carefully. There is for gold leaf push with "polish push" "mat push" "kinfun*" and creates moderate activeness and dignified sense of quality by the use.


  • Close-up

    Concentration Nagaoka Butsudan of the skill cultivated by the eternal history

    Nagaoka Butsudan that tenacious craftsman spirit of Echigo piled up study. The unique palace (eat we do not appear) shows solemn splendid appearance. And Nagaoka Butsudan which continues following traditional technique cultivated for many years is bringing about new wind now.


    Palace of three roofs is characteristic of Nagaoka Butsudan

    Nagaoka Butsudan will be approximately 150 years before, area around Nagaoka-shi now, and thing that carpenter specializing in building shrines and temples, master craftsman of Buddhist image, engraver, painter who gathered for erection such as temple or main shrine from each places of the whole country dealt with Household Buddhist Altars production in form called side job in winter during period is done with the origin.
    Maruyama of 54 tells, "three forms of palace in Household Buddhist Altars are using a lot zelkova to thing and raw materials which are roof as for the characteristic of Household Buddhist Altars here" after starting the making of bare wood which is the first process of Household Buddhist Altars . Generally, as for roof, the Nishi Hongan-ji type, one roof is roof, but, as for the Higashi Hongan-ji-shaped Household Buddhist Altars , palace of three roofs is used for Nagaoka Butsudan in form called neither compromise two palaces.

    "Three roofs type palace" characterizing Nagaoka Butsudan. Soul of craftsman is put in this splendor.

    Eyes that important one ascertains tree

    Maruyama says chance for craftsman to show what craftsman can do how you show grain of wood of zelkova neatly. It seems to be zelkova which is good so that there is round design called pretty grain of wood beautifully so that grain of wood is thin. "It is part which is the most important when eyes to see materials make bare wood. In other words, you must make sure of whether it is tree which is out of order over time. There is beginning of making of Household Buddhist Altars . We are only innocent and go to work afterward. We never miss out pawn of work"

    Life "coating" of Household Buddhist Altars

    It takes effort that is great before Household Buddhist Altars is completed. It is process of "coating" with natural lacquer that perform after "carving" that "the making of bare wood" engraves person or chicken on to produce the body and palace. Originally high temperature and humid climate was suitable for lacquered drying in the Nagaoka district, and base made with Household Buddhist Altars and condition that it was were prepared. We asked three coating craftsmen story more than Junichi Takizawa, Shinji Kawakami, Katsuhiko Hirokawa this time. As for "the Household Buddhist Altars , coating is life. If coating is bad, it is coating craftsman, Takizawa of Ojiya-shi, Niigata to say, the surface becomes rough when we put gold leaf. And, as for Kawakami, as for "what's called lacquer, compounding varies according to climates on the day by season. The compounding says, perception cultivated during many years becomes reliance. Lacquer dries with humidity about 70%. We paint with lacquer and we dry and polish the surface and continue process of these serieses to paint with, and it is said that it is early almost for half a year that process of coating is over and is approximately three months. Household Buddhist Altars which we finished carefully resists both salt and moisture and lets thing looking at grand appearance feel in this way. It is word of Hirokawa "to aim at coating such as mirror". By each process, that solemn splendid personality is brought about after careful handwork of craftsman stuffed with root.

    Craftsmen dealing with Nagaoka Butsudan. From the left Katsuhiko Hirokawa, Eiichi Kurihara, Junichi Takizawa, Ryoichi Maruyama, Shinji Kawakami (honorific title abbreviation)

    Challenge to Household Buddhist Altars which we put together in the times

    We are eager for the making of Household Buddhist Altars of new design in Nagaoka area Household Buddhist Altars cooperative association. Above all, furniture-like Household Buddhist Altars which we set even home that there is not between Buddha with furniture and can put wins in nationwide contest and, in consideration of modern lifestyle, gets bright achievement. It is Eiichi Kurihara who is director of the association that say, "it was uneasy whether you will be really popular for the production middle as we know only how to make traditional Household Buddhist Altars ". Kurihara is the making of bare wood of Nagaoka Butsudan and craftsman of carving, too. As for this Household Buddhist Altars , approximately ten youth groups of association share each process. Design devised jointly and seemed to finish after one year. "We compiled opinion of each craftsman, and it was very difficult to build up new thing by collaboration. Originally a certain traditional technique is made use of in detail even if we untie because it is new design. The public lacked interest at first, but Kurihara says, numbers to form a line in store year by year increase. Nagaoka Butsudan always continues challenge to new thing while cheap Household Buddhist Altars from foreign countries overflows while following handmade tradition.

    Craftsman profile

    Ryohei Maruyama

    The first business day of the year is 15 years old. We use tool such as noko plane chisel freely. Above all, plane more than 50 kinds, "have not all counted."


    Suggestion of new design Household Buddhist Altars harmonizing in the present age

    In the present age, house environment greatly changes before, too. Demand for model different from conventional Household Buddhist Altars such as increase of apartment resident, downsizing of house increases.
    Meanwhile, we suggest new Household Buddhist Altars which had beauty and good quality as Officially designated Traditional craft products while being design which is small, and is new sense which harmonizes with modern life in Nagaoka Butsudan.
    Rich experience of craftsmen and high technique and hot passion to "want to make better thing" above all are loaded with in modern form.
    Household Buddhist Altars of this new design was reviewed saying "there is courteousness while doing snugly" and, in contest of national Officially designated Traditional craft products Household Buddhist Altars Household Buddhist Fittings exhibition opened up in 1999, was chosen as the new design section first place. It may be said that such bright receiving a prize is proof that new wind of Nagaoka Butsudan has been accepted in the times.

    • Design which is set beside other interior without sense of incongruity if we close door

    • Design that principal idol just becomes eye-level when we sat down on chair



Industrial art object name Nagaoka Butsudan
Phonetic symbol nagaokabutsudan
Classification of industrial art object Household Buddhist Altars and Fittings
Main product Gold Household Buddhist Altars
Main production area Niigata / Nagaoka-shi, Ojiya-shi, Tokamachi-shi
The designation date October 16, 1980

Contact information

■local production associations

Nagaoka area Household Buddhist Altars cooperative association
5-5, Sekiharamachi, Nagaoka-shi, Niigata
The Hirokawa Household Buddhist Altars shop
TEL: 0258-46-2210
FAX: 0258-46-2210

■Associated exhibit space, facility


Even if base and host grow old 100 for assembling method to be divided from 30 years, we repaint Nagaoka Butsudan and can play. Characteristic place is made with three roofs of palace (eat we do not appear). On both sides of double roof which put "Chinese gable" (karahafu) and "plover bargeboard" (chidorihafu) together with side roof of "Chinese gable" is traditional.

Nagaoka butsudan is built with a base and Kuden which can be separated, which allows them to be reborn with fresh lacquering even after 30 or 100 years. A key feature is their Kuden palace having a unique design using three roofs. The roofs are arranged in a traditional design with a large central Chidorihafu pointed roof with Karahafu cusped gables, and a smaller gently curving Karahafu cusped gable roof on each side of the central roof.

How to make

Production process of Household Buddhist Altars consists of painting such as bare wood, sculpture, metal fittings, lacquering or gold leaf push, five branches of lacquer work. Each is made by independent craftsman with high technique.

The construction of a household Buddhist altar is divided into five major stages: assembling the wooden base, carving the wooden sculptured decorations, making the gold finishings, lacquering, applying gold dust and leaf, and painting the Maki-e gold lacquer paintings. Each stage of the process is handled by a separate independent master craftsmen unique to the long years of experience and demanding techniques required.

Voice from production center

When you put Household Buddhist Altars between Buddha and care for, you pay garbage in brush lightly, and please keep in mind not to strongly rub with cloth.

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