The hero of the story I am going to talk about was my classmate, the first son of a timber merchant.
We were both the second generation of respective family’s businesses - our family used to purchase
lumber from his family.
We were close friends that often hung out together and talked about our dreams for our futures.
This story is about the ultimate Buddhist altar that he continuously pursued till the very last minute
of his life.
One day he came to me, keen with the idea of
fabricating the finest gold Buddhist altar in Japan.
I was deeply impressed by his strong determination
and agreed - his enthusiasm was just unusual.
When I think back on it now, I could understand
that it was because he knew that his life was very
limited after fighting cancer for years.
He wanted to use his best timber to create the finest image
and leave it to the world.
His eagerness touched me so deeply that I naturally became
his partner in this dream.
Fabricating a Buddhist altar is very much like making
a car. It consists of 8 major processes and requires
highly professional skills to accomplish.
A carpenter, engraver, lacquerer, gold leaf craftsman,
color painter, metal fitting craftsman, Roiro
(a special Japanese lacquering technique)
and assembling craftsman.
He repeatedly told his dream to the most skillful
craftsman in each field and kept persuading them
to work together with him.
Strenuous efforts were made and after almost
a year’s persistence, he could eventually win
the understanding of them all.
The gold Buddhist altar is completed at the
highest grade “Genuine Palace Style” which
opens at both sides to the back.
It is simply a magnificent altar that impresses
every devotee with its stunning beauty.
|Complete Open Type Genuine Palace Style with side table|
|Size||Width 135cm （fully opened: 300cm ）× Depth 120cm × Height 219cm|
Buddhist Altar：65,000,000 JPYBuddhist Altar Fittings：12,700,000 JPY
The highest grade usually refers to the “three-side open” of “Genuine Palace Style”, however, this altar surpassed even the top level. The altar can be fully opened laterally to the back which is called “Complete Open Type”. Together with the “Genuine Palace Style”, it is constructed in the same structure as the temple sanctum. The altar is so splendid and so solemn that it deserves its own room.
The most strenuous efforts made to accomplish
this masterpiece were to secure skillful artisans.
He spent almost a whole year to transcribe his
thoughts to those artisans from 8 different
companies and could finally gain their understanding
and strong support.
I remember well that he used to visit me and talk about excitedly his progress. He had always been positive and devoted.
What is great about him is that he was doing all this not because somebody had placed an order, but solely because of his own ambition and determination.
He fully devoted himself to making the altar, physically, mentally, and financially.
That is something inimitable.
Coffered ceiling fully decorated with metal fittings.
Following the “Genuine Palace Style”, the gold altar has the same
construction as the temple sanctum and is fully decorated with
There are splendid hand carvings at both sides between the columns.
The same construction as the temple Shumidan
platform (a stand on which a Buddhist image is
The engravings of the Shumidan are dragons on
thick plates with impressive beauty and power.
This photo shows the features of “Complete
Open Type” seen from the lateral side.
The lateral sides can be fully opened, and
its inside has the same “Shoji”
(the paper sliding door) as the facade (front).
The “Shoji” behind the two thick front columns can open and shut,
which is again, a same construction as a temple. The side doors are
“Complete Open Type” and different with the “three-side open” of
usual altars. They can be fully open to the back.
There are three roll-up drawers in the front which can be used
functionally as storage space. They are also decorated with elegant
Click the small pictures to switch to bigger images.
He finally accomplished the altar, and closed
the curtain on his life peacefully in his late fifties.
I sincerely honor his earnest endeavor to fabricate
the ultimate altar, and at the same time, I feel strongly,
a sense of purpose that I should take over his intention
of succession to the future generations. I consider this
gold Buddhist altar an especially valuable artifact that
presents traditional Japanese craftsmanship
to the world.
Through this, traditional craftsmanship fostered
generation after generation could develop till today as
the Buddhist altar industry.
I sincerely hope all people have a chance to appreciate
this magnificent artwork, to be encouraged by his
and to recognize traditional Japanese craftsmanship
Here, I have uploaded this story to recollect
and memorize our friendship.
I am also passionate about becoming a national
treasure level craftsman in the near future and hope
younger generations through this Buddhist altar so that
they can view the world with dreams and hope.