General Buddhism => General Buddhism => Topic started by: icy on January 09, 2015, 12:44:37 AM

Title: A New Kind of Buddhist Altar for a Changing Japan
Post by: icy on January 09, 2015, 12:44:37 AM
Compact and micro-sized Buddhist altars are specially designed to fit into Japanese tiny apartments.  Big and ornate altars are the thing of the past with space constraints in the city.

It is sad to say that Buddhism is on the decline in Japan. Hope there can be more Buddhist missionaries to revive Buddhism in Japan.

To placate Japan's many earthquakes, large Buddha statues are ideal way to calm down calamities just like the great Kamakura Buddha statue near Tokyo.


This micro-sized Buddhist prayer altar is designed for today's micro-sized Japanese apartments.  PRODUCT DESIGN CENTER

Traditional Buddhist prayer altars are a breathtaking sight. The shrines range in size and ornamentation, but some of the most elaborate ones are spectacles of gold, painted wood, and statuettes that act as a focal point for prayer and meditation.

In Japan, Buddhism frequently caters to funeral prayer. Even though a majority of Japanese people more or less claim agnosticism, ceremonies surrounding deaths have long been Buddhist ones, held in Buddhist temples and homes. These days, for a number of reasons, that tradition is endangered. Younger generations living in cities not only have different value systems than their rural grandparents, they have much, much smaller apartments. (Remember the $500-and-up a month “coffin” apartments in Tokyo?) Which means no room for altars.


Japanese designer Keita Suzuki wants to make it easier for city dwellers to hang on to Buddhist mourning rituals, so he’s recently rolled out Shinobu, a line of slick, shoe box-sized altars that would look right at home on Muji’s store shelves. Suzuki has updated the altars to match what are probably modern, minimalist homes. The tools—incense, candles, the singing bowl used during chanting—come in neutral metals and have basic cylindrical shapes. And instead of doors that swing open, the altars have bamboo blinds that don’t take up an inch of extra air space.

Numbers show that Buddhism is on the decline in Japan. The countryside still has thousands of temples, but membership is way down, meaning they might not survive. But in 2011, after an earthquake triggered a tsunami on the country’s northeast coast, Suzuki traveled to the area and visited survivors. Hundreds died in the disaster, and Suzuki noticed that even in temporary housing people had erected small altars to mourn the deceased. In times of tragedy, it would appear the tradition is not yet lost
Title: Re: A New Kind of Buddhist Altar for a Changing Japan
Post by: Tenzin Malgyur on January 11, 2015, 08:50:39 AM
It is a good idea to design small sized altar to suit the size of modern Japanese houses in the city. With the scarcity of land in the city, living quarters are being shrink to a point where a living room in the day time are made into sleeping space when night falls.
Even though a big altar with many offerings on it does generate a vast amount of merits, I am sure a much smaller one would also serve the purpose when done with a good motivation.
Title: Re: A New Kind of Buddhist Altar for a Changing Japan
Post by: RedLantern on January 11, 2015, 03:12:18 PM

Many Japanese still believe in having altars in their homes to honour their ancestors.The problem is that most of them simply can't effort the space. A company in Japan released a new kind of altar for a changing Japan where family homes are quickly becoming family apartments.
The altar is losing it's place in the household but the people's feeling of mourning the deceased have not diminished. Buddhist practices involving a household altar are in decline,but they still exist in a way that's far different from 1,300 years ago. This product is aimed to set the standard for the modern Buddhist altars and altars tool.
Title: Re: A New Kind of Buddhist Altar for a Changing Japan
Post by: fruven on January 12, 2015, 12:08:13 AM
This mini altar is nice to look at, very simple but simply beautiful. No matter what a mini altar better than no altar. Not everyone can afford the space to have big shrine due to space and living constraint. Thank you for sharing the contemporary Japanese home altar.
Title: Re: A New Kind of Buddhist Altar for a Changing Japan
Post by: Kim Hyun Jae on January 12, 2015, 07:39:22 AM
A small altar is better than No altar at all in one's own home. It shows the owner still has connection with the Three Jewels and the Buddhas and makes time to continue the practice of making offerings and prayers.

Title: Re: A New Kind of Buddhist Altar for a Changing Japan
Post by: rossoneri on January 14, 2015, 09:45:54 AM
It is good to realize a problem and do something about it rather than letting it degenerate and become absolute and lost in the near future. This altar look amazing and i believed it will help a lot of spiritual practitioners to solve the space issue. With this, there're no more excuses not be able to practice.
Title: Re: A New Kind of Buddhist Altar for a Changing Japan
Post by: Joo Won on January 15, 2015, 03:28:21 AM
Nowadays people travel quite a lot, spending in flight more time than ever before. To have this kind of simple and compact altar is fabulous. You can carry wherever you go. On top of that, people are staying in smaller and smaller apartment in cities, not everyone can have a big altar at home as well. It would be great to have like this simple design on office table as well... 8)
Title: Re: A New Kind of Buddhist Altar for a Changing Japan
Post by: MoMo on January 31, 2015, 02:51:25 PM
In order for a particular religion to survive it had to conform to the needs of a particular era or situation without changing its core value.
 As we know, Lord Buddha didn’t advocate the building of his statue after his parinirvana but his statue was the largest among many other religions. It was done nevertheless by his disciple later due to their faith, respect and devotion they had for their teacher.
Therefore, the image or statue was painted or erect as a reminder for us of his teachings and living of a spiritual live to definitely will bring us to same final attainment as depicted in the iconographical representation of his good qualities.
Hence, the size and shape of a altar or statue does not alter the core teaching but a mere reflection of the taste and needs of the inhabitant of a particular place.
Title: Re: A New Kind of Buddhist Altar for a Changing Japan
Post by: angelica on February 01, 2015, 05:48:40 PM
Micro sized altar is really a brilliant idea. Due to space constraint, these micro sized altar can just fit nicely into our home. Simple and micro sized altar can be setup easily and suitable for people with limited budget. The altar look very nice and can be part of the interior decoration.

The size of the altar will not affect our practice. What is important is we study the Buddha teachings and apply it on our daily life. Our body, speech and mind transformation is the essential to our enlightenment.
Title: Re: A New Kind of Buddhist Altar for a Changing Japan
Post by: kris on March 14, 2015, 07:23:39 PM
Altar is getting smaller, is that a sign of degeneration age? I think space is getting less because we are living in a much crowded cities and if we want to setup an altar, the available space is getting less and less, but I must say that Japanese design is always very special and nice, and even the altar is small, it is still very elegant..