butsudan: Buddhist altar


gold and lacquer butsudan

A very ornate butsudan. Not all butsudan have so much gold and lacquer as these. Notice the large doors that open and close the butsudan.


butsudan detail 1

Here are some of the offering cups for filling with food or wine.


room w/butsudan

This wealthy household had an entire room specially for the ancestral butsudan. There is a cushion in front of it for sitting and praying. Notice the black and white photo of the deceased family member at the lower left.

Butsudan are Buddhist altars found in people's homes. The cabinet-shaped altars are often quite large (perhaps 2 meters high) made of wood or lacquer, and their design can be fairly simple or very ornate, depending on the sect of Buddhism.

People place butsudan in their homes to commemorate and give offerings to deceased members of their family or their ancestors.

The many items in a butsudan depend again on the sect of Buddhism adhered to, but they may contain a scroll with ancestors' names written inside; incense burners; and trays, bowls, and cups for making offerings such as fruit, rice, or rice wine.

Design features of a traditional Japanese house

tokonoma: decorative alcove | genkan: entryway | shoji and fusuma: paper wall panels | butsudan: Buddhist altar | kamidana: Shinto altar | ofuro-ba: bathing room | oshi-ire: closets

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