Language
日本語
Search

Fukuoka & Culture

Traditional Crafts

Yame Fukushima Buddhist AltarsBuddhist altars/fittings

Yame Fukushima Buddhist altars are extravagant and traditional craftworks created through the refined skills of artisans, including dignified lacquering, ornate gold foil and gold lacquer, intricate carving, and decorative metal fittings. The roots of these altars are said to date back to the first half of the 19th century, when a carpenter worked with a friend to reproduce a magnificent Buddhist temple he saw in a dream. During the latter half of the 19th century, the techniques which form the foundations of Buddhist altar production in Kyushu were established and these went on to develop into an industry in its own right. Yame Fukushima Buddhist altars, which continue to adhere to this tradition, are known as the "pride of Chikugo."

Types of Buddhist altars and their attraction

There are two types of Buddhist altar: Fukushima-type altars that have a tiered lower section, and Yame-type altars that include drawers and shelves. Buddhist altars that are made by artisans of the highest order and use the best quality materials, like hinoki cypress, Korean pine, pure gold leaf and authentic lacquer, reflect the devout piety of worshippers.

An assemblage of the very best skills from among Chikugo's artisans

Buddhist altars are produced using a perfect division of labor. Each altar involves 80 different processes carried out by expert artisans from a range of different fields. These include kudenshi, craftsmen who assemble small handmade pieces of roof and pillars in Buddhist altars; sculptors who carve designs such as birds and flowers on a single board, used to decorate the top section of the altar; and nushi and makieshi, lacquerers who apply lacquer and gold leaf to the sculptures. All of these techniques are carried out by hand and are essential to completing the altar. Each and every Yame Fukushima Buddhist altar is the product of highly honed skills that have been honed through a lifetime of daily endeavor.