Nanao Household Buddhist Altars

Various words associated with the making of household Buddhist altars appear in an ancient document called Ofuregaki between 1613 and 1703. In one dating back to 1688, there is mention of maki-e-dogu, kinpun and kirigane, all things associated with maki-e decorative lacquer techniques or gilding. There is also a reference to silver leaf in the same document dating back to 1669.
Furthermore, as there has been an area called Nushimachi, literally ""lacquerers town"", in Nanao since the Edo period (1600-1868), it can be assumed that a great number of lacquerers were there at that time. From this evidence it is conceivable that Nanao Bustudan have been produced since the middle of the 17th century. The oldest surviving Nanao altar was made in the middle of the Edo period.

Nanao Bustudan are works of art which reflect the long historical culture of the city. At present, these beautifully made, hard wearing, warm yet majestic altars are being hand made by a handful of dedicated craftsmen.


Nanao Butsudan is works of art incorporating Nanao’s long history and culture. These Buddhist altars, hand-made by the few remaining craftsmen who master the whole technique, are robust and majestic objects possessing a special warmth.

How to make

Noto ate and Noto hiba, long-lasting woods with few deformities are used a s raw material. The products are given a reinforcing finishing so as to make them able to withstand transportation on roads in poor conditions. The whole body is tenon-assembled, a premium-quality "rust- treating" lacquer is used in the coating stage and all metal fittings are entirely hand-made.