Yame Fukushima ButsudanYamefukushima Household Buddhist Altars

The following talk is had for beginning of Yame Fukushima Butsudan. It was in the middle of the Edo era and one armor-back held-flag carpenter had a dream of solemn gorgeous Buddhist temple at a certain night and thought and wanted to be Household Buddhist Altars production for cooperation to person in the same profession.
It is the later about mid-19th century a little more that production technology was established, and this actually becomes source of Household Buddhist Altars production in Kyushu. It developed so as to finish in last years of Edo era, and to count 18 teachers, Rev. metal fittings 14, engraver seven, master craftsman of Buddhist image seven, woodworker ten.

One night in early 19th century, a cabinet maker dreamt about an extremely beautiful, majestic Buddhist building. Inspired by his dream, he enlisted the help of work mates and together they built a Buddhist household altar. This is the story behind the origins of the Yamefukushima Butsudan.
It was not until about the middle of the 19th century, however, that production techniques became established and altar making in Kyushu really got its start. By the end of the Edo period (1600-1868), the craft had developed into a small industry employing 18 finishers, 14 craftsmen making the fittings, seven sculptors, seven sculptors making images of the Buddha and ten specialists preparing the wood needed.

In order to maintain the quality and particular character of the Yamefukushima Butsudan, almost all of the work is done by hand using materials that have traditionally been used since before the Edo period. Large areas of the altar are gilded, bringing out its best features.

  • Notification

    skills and techniques

    Structure of "bare wood" is sectional thing by "tenon composing type" and "broom woodcut print".

    Palace structure "looks at gokumi"; niyorukoto.

    Assume the painting purified lacquered hand coating.

    Do lacquer work and gold leaf push.

    Raw materials

    Assume bare wood material having materials which are equal to cedar, hinoki, hiba, benimatsu or hoo 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

    Except bare wood, palace, some woodwork sections of sculpture, we are made all with manual labor of craftsman. As for the process, each than 80 and each technique needs training more than ten years. We introduce main flow here.

    Process 1: Bare wood (pheasant) structure

    We make the body of Household Buddhist Altars with wood such as cedar, hinoki, hiba, benimatsu, Magnolia obovata selected carefully. At first we calculate dimensions and make form of the large frames. As for three steps of structure of base part, there is "hachihimekata" where we touched drawer to two steps of architraves closet-shaped "Yame model" "Fukushima type" of architrave. Part above the base is sectional, and it is processed to dismantle.

    Process 2: Palace (eat we do not appear) structure

    Palace refers to roof in Household Buddhist Altars and the neighboring parts. We modelled construction of temple every denomination, and make in imitation of roof of East-West Honganji. We make small parts with handwork and assemble. Plan is work that "one ruler" is completed all in head.

    Video is played when we click image

    Process 3: Sculpture

    There are "reckoning carving" and "stack carving" to begin because we do wild carving in consideration of "carving in the round" that we describe design established in materials which performed timber conversion by each denomination in pencils and finish and design. Put three pieces of sculptures together, and "stack carving" gives three-dimensional impression. We carve wood only with knife of several kinds using hinoki or benimatsu.

    Process 4: Metal fittings (kanagu) structure

    As for one metal fitting of Household Buddhist Altars , one is handmade. We carve copper, copper compound metal, other metal and make pure gold processing on finish. We are processed by finished "hairlines" which we made use of line in and method of "ground carving" to come out of three-dimensional impression. Graver (graver) used for processing is original which Rev. metal fittings oneself makes. Pattern is decided which part the metal fittings are used for.

    Process 5: Lacquering processing

    After painting with the groundwork on the made bare wood, and having done model, we paint with nature refinement lacquer. The groundwork due to glia (glue) prevents suction of bare wood noyaseya lacquer using dust and glia (glue). After we polish charcoal elaborately and were done, we advance to final coating. We polish in whetstone and, in the case of honesty coating, finish using dust and wild base powder. After base dried, we study hard in hotan and Shizuoka charcoal. Finally, it is finished in technique to add powdered antler to finger and palm, and to polish. The close painting including sculpture repeats brown lacquer which it is easy to find coating irregularity at the first stage. "Lacquer-drying room" (urushimuro) managing humidity and temperature is employed to prevent there from being dust in lacquered drying.

    Process 6: Gold leaf push

    We wipe lacquer to foil-stamp with coating, cotton and give to product that the painting was over. We put gold leaf on tomen by one piece with foil scissors or give gold dust. We foil-stamp about metal fittings equally and print by charcoal fire for the purpose of decoration and protection. In this operation, "dust is fatal", and careful work is continued.

    Process 7: Lacquer work

    It is work to express delicate design that we cannot express with metal fittings, sculpture. We draw the groundwork with lacquer and are dried for 3-5 hours. We sow gold dust and silver dust, shellfishs and correct afterwards. It is right "fight with real swords" for only two or three minutes in timing to sow gold dust.

    Video is played when we click image

    Process 8: Total assembling

    All of parts is collected in one place. From wall, palace, bare wood processing of sculpture, we foil-stamp lacquering and each part which passed through processes such as lacquer work attaches metal fittings to necessary point each and assembles. Part becoming the outside and the internal basics of Household Buddhist Altars is assembled by tenon and finishes others done parts with a built-in by fitting into. Particularly long carrier is required in mop-up.


  • Close-up

    The source, Yame Fukushima Butsudan of Household Buddhist Altars production of Kyushu

    In the Yame district, Household Buddhist Altars and lantern, stone lantern rou, much Traditional Craft including having spare time Washi Paper breathe. Above all, Yame Fukushima Butsudan is proud of the skill as "the creation of Kyushu". To craftsmen who showed arm, we heard the history and feelings made with Household Buddhist Altars from generation to generation.


    Dream of solemn splendid Buddhist temple

    It is done with beginning of Household Buddhist Altars production of Kyushu in the Kaei era year (about 1850) that technique made with Household Buddhist Altars was established in the Yame district. In last years of Edo era, we counted 18 Rev. finish, Rev. metal fittings 14, engraver seven, master craftsman of Buddhist image seven, woodworker ten and developed after the Meiji Restoration more.
    But there is such an anecdote that sailed up the times than this. It was 1821 (Bunsei 4) and, at night with entosansaku (we pass sansaku) of armor-back held-flag carpenter, dreamed of solemn splendid Buddhist temple. We think of Mitsuzaku that woke, and it is said that we began the making of Household Buddhist Altars for cooperation to two people of Toshihisa Inoue flat Hirai Mitsuzaku of carpenter companion. As for three people, the name is engraved into monument in Yame-shi as ancestor of Yame Fukushima Butsudan well.

    Yame Fukushima Butsudan which equals Yame Traditional Craft building

    Nature of the locality that faith is warm

    Yame district which is almost located in the center of Chikugo plains says with warm nature of the locality of faith for a long time. There were large circle temple and many temples including Buddhist priest, line Komyo-ji Temple related to the basis erected in the Nara era, and Buddhism rooted in general public. In addition, we demanded the help of heart from faith while farmers suffered from natural disaster and heavy tax in the Edo era. It is considered that the making of Household Buddhist Altars began from such a background.
    Hisahiko Matsuda of nichihommingeikyodanhachijoshibucho eager in introduction of Traditional Craft it "was connected by Household Buddhist Altars which was excellent a lot of pro-Sanomune Higashi Hongan-ji which respected what held a service for in house temple and believers for trust of house to worship ancestors. We say is living of rich farmer not one of the bases which supported Household Buddhist Altars industry?.

    The mainstream is for home use and is proud of being usable for a long time

    Medium-sized household use is mainstream, and there are three steps of "Fukushima types" and closet-shaped "Yame model" three kinds of "hachihimekata" belonging to drawer base part. The manufacturing method made with Household Buddhist Altars is finished by in 80 process rests and assembling method. "Several scattered if we take off ninarutodesutai of bamboo nail" and Ryusuke Ogata. It is easy to do overhaul and repair, and it is feature to last a long time. Keizo Inokuchi "is product rutogauchinokodawari with feeling made near visitor, too. We stick out our chest if we have you care for saying 100 years are all right.
    Expert craftsmen more than ten years take charge of the making of parts. Individuality is shown to one one by handmade parts; if "craftsman friend sees Kazuo Higuchi of the Yame Fukushima Butsudan Household Buddhist Fittings cooperative association secretariat or is whose work with one part share karutodesu."

    We use only knife of several kinds properly with sculpture

    We study Household Buddhist Altars which matched modern life

    Teacher and student of Kyushu Institute of Design devise, and there is a new type of Household Buddhist Altars which successors of Yame Fukushima Butsudan produced experimentally. By Western-style design, we image pyramid and star, space, oasis in desert. We suggest "Household Buddhist Altars melting into room" in small size.
    Of Household Buddhist Altars which young visitor who visited Household Buddhist Altars shop of Yame simplified worship, and may request. For opinion to come out of modern lifestyle, thought of storekeeper and others is complicated "we want to measure up to hope if possible, but why don't you do suggestion that too ignored tradition of religion?". On the other hand, becoming advances, and nuclear family is strong in tendency that architecture of standard home becomes Western-style. There is thought, "it is necessary to fix the eyes on needs of the times from now on".

    Household Buddhist Altars of new design reflecting the image of star and space

    "The best Household Buddhist Altars in Japan"

    Yame Fukushima Butsudan Household Buddhist Fittings cooperative association made the "Japan's" biggest Household Buddhist Altars in 1992. It is displayed to Yame Traditional Craft building. 6.5 meters in height, 3.8 meters in width, 2.5 meters in depth, weight are 2 tons. Buddha statue of size of the original is size that seems to enter completely. 72 companies of association participation sent craftsman each and they spent time of half a year and were completed. Meanwhile, a total of more than 1,300 people released the proud skill. We worked on the making of big parts not to usually deal with under outdoor tent.
    Is hit by competition and successor shortage between production centers, and association which is slightly being delayed was going to plan image enhancement, and production costs receive assistance such as countries; and 35 million yen. Now of Yame-shi come symbolic.

    Symbol of town made with Household Buddhist Altars , the best large Household Buddhist Altars in Japan


    The skill made with Household Buddhist Altars on stage of mechanism doll

    We have performance of important formlessness folk cultural assets "Fukushima, Yame garden lantern (let's sell) doll" of country designation in September every year in Fukushima Hachiman shrine of Yame-shi. Thing which we continue dancing while mechanism doll moves from side to side on red bridge spanning stage. The stage is three levels of sectional stands, and, as for the first layer, the second layer handles doll in pushing rod with thread from dressing room of right and left from mezzanine, and, in the third layer, musical accompaniment (grow) puts doll and breath together. The skill such as assembling methods not to use lacquering and nail made with Household Buddhist Altars for this stand is hidden.
    Originally it began as event to dedicate garden lantern (let's sell) of doll, and technique of lantern became stage lighting before long. The skill of this folk entertainment is said to have brought about traditional industry of Household Buddhist Altars and lantern.

    • Fukushima, Yame garden lantern doll which the skill of Household Buddhist Altars is covered to stand



Industrial art object name Yame Fukushima Butsudan
Phonetic symbol Stop and blow
Classification of industrial art object Household Buddhist Altars and Fittings
Main product Gold Household Buddhist Altars
Main production area Fukuoka / Yame-shi, Kurume-shi, Chikugo-shi, Miyama-shi, Kurogimachi, Yame-gun, Hirokawa-machi, Tachibanacho, Yabe-mura, Hoshinomura
The designation date March 30, 1977

Contact information

■local production associations

Yame Fukushima Butsudan Household Buddhist Fittings cooperative association
2-123-2, Motomachi, Yame-shi, Fukuoka
The Yame Traditional Craft building
TEL: 0943-24-3941
FAX: 0943-24-3943

■Associated exhibit space, facility


As for the materials, most are handmade using thing which has been always used traditionally in the Edo era to keep quality and characteristic of Yame Fukushima Butsudan. Gold leaf is given generally and makes use of characteristic of Household Buddhist Altars .

Most parts used in Yame Fukushima Butsudan are handmade and remains unchanged from what has been used before Edo period, to maintain the quality and the taste of the altar. Its characteristic feature is the gold leaf applied almost entirely to the altar.

How to make

Process is divided into sculpture processing, metal fittings processing, painting processing, lacquer work processing and total assembling, and the number of steps rises to more than 80. Except bare wood, palace (eat we do not appear), some woodwork sections of sculpture, most are hand processing.

There are more than 80 steps in total in seven sections to create an altar: engraving, metal fitting, painting, lacquering and assembly. Most parts, except a few in wood sculpture, Kuden and the wooden base, are handcrafted.

Voice from production center

As we use pure gold even if gold leaf is dark with soot of candle and incense stick after long time, we become beautiful if we do soot washing.

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