Mikawa Household Buddhist Altars
Mikawa Butsudan date back to the middle of the 18th century. It was then that a certain altar maker made an altar using good pine, cedar and cypress that was brought down the Yasakugawa river and finished his work using natural lacquer tapped from trees at the foot of Mt. Sarunage in the north of Mikawa.
Gradually after this more and more craftspeople involved in making household altars gravitated toward Okazaki, which was originally the city at the heart of the Mikawa area, and formed the core of the production center as it is today.
One of the special features of these altars is how low the stands are, making their daily use a good deal easier. The uneri nageshi style also means that the beautiful inner sanctuary is clearly visible. Using time honored skills and techniques, these altars are richly decorated using natural lacquer, carving, metal fittings, maki-e applications of metal powders in lacquer, and gold leaf.
With Mikawa Butsudan, the stand is set low for ease of daily worship. Additionally, a method called "uneri-nageshi" ensures that the beautiful inner sanctuary is clearly visible. They are made with traditional techniques and methods such as lacquer, carving, metal fittings, gold and silver lacquer designs, gold leaf, and more to create a gorgeous finished product.
How to make
Mikawa Butsudan is made with eight specialist craftsmen, who each handle one aspect of the construction to create a finished product. They are made in this order: preparing the wood, building the inner sanctuary, carving, lacquer, gold or silver lacquer decorations, gold leafing, making the decorative metal fittings, and finally assembly.