Osaka Buddhist altar Photo:Osaka Prefecture

Osaka Buddhist altar Osaka butsudan

Harmony between splendid Maki-e and profound urushi lacquer work
Cherishing a long history and time-honored tradition


What is Osaka Buddhist altar ?

Osaka Butsudan refers to Buddhist altars which are mainly produced in Osaka City, Yao City, Higashi Osaka City, Sakai City and Kishiwada City, Osaka Prefecture. Along with general urushi-painted, gold-leafed Buddhist altars, this region is also known for production of Karakimeiboku altars with the grain effect of rare foreign wood (karaki).
Osaka Butsudan is characterized by the Maki-e technique, which is Taka Maki-e that raises the Maki-e design pattern with urushi lacquer to make it look as if it was decorated with a metal ornament. Without nailing metal ornaments, a Buddhist altar body does not get damaged. Gold-leafed pillars, colored carved wooden decors, and sect-designated metal ornaments on the front of the door define Osaka Butsudan. In 1982, Osaka Butsudan gained a national recognition as traditional craft for its prodigious techniques.


Osaka has always been strongly associated with Buddhism since it was introduced in the form of Buddhist scriptures in 552 when six artisans such as a Buddhist statue sculptor and carpenter moved from Paekche to Mitsuura, Naniwazu (current Chuo Ward, Osaka City). Four more specialists were invited from Paekche at the time that Shotoku Taishi built Shitenoji Temple in 593. The artisans and specialists settled in and brought in production of Buddhist altars and altar fittings, which is believed to be the origin of Osaka Butsudan. In 1496, a temple town was developed in the surrounding area in step with the building of Ishiyama Honganji Temple in Osaka by priest Rennyo, giving impetus to demand expansion of local Buddhist altars and altar fittings. The policies of the Tokugawa Shogunate in the Edo Era also propelled household Buddhist altars into widespread adoption, allowing the production of Osaka Butsudan to assume an impregnable position. Colored Buddhist altars adorned with Maki-e designs and a paper sliding door, which were made by Buddhist statue sculptor Ikedaya Yakichi KOBAYASHI in Oharaisuji, Noninbashi (current Chuo Ward, Osaka) in between 1781 and 1788, are said to be a forerunner of Osaka Butsudan.

General Production Process

See other Household Buddhist altars

See items made in Osaka