Kyoto Shimbun 2014.2.11 News

Buddhist Altar Techniques Add Shine to Toys
"Tradition for All Generations" Exhibition in March

Kyoto-hu Butsugu Cooperative, or association for craftspeople of Buddhist altar fittings, is working on toy-making incorporating various techniques they use to produce Kyoto-style Buddhist altars and altar fittings, which are traditional crafts. They will hold their first exhibition/sales event in March at Kodaiji Temple, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto. They say, "We would like to ignite interest in altar fittings among a wider range of generations, to expand our market."

The cooperative began producing tableware and vessels for sake, making use of crafts people's skills, four years ago. In pursuit of "something more familiar," they have been engaged in toy- making on the side from their main work since last year.

They have promoted their toys by setting up a toy area in their exhibitions for altars and altar fittings. So far, they have displayed the items including "shuriken," or ninja throwing stars, made by an ornamental metal fixture craftsperson, gilded bowling sets, cartoon character dolls and "kendama," or cup and ball game, covered with colored lacquer, and a wall hanging of Pegasus by a fanlight engraver.

There are also card cases shaped like "inro," or pill cases, which were completed with the cooperation of several craftspeople who work with gold or silver lacquer, Japanese lacquer, woodwork and others. More than 100 products are gathered for each exhibition and an increasing number of customers purchase them on the spot, even high-priced items.

In response to the goods' favorable reception, they will hold their first exhibition and sale for only toys from March 27 to April 29 at a gallery located in the precincts of Entokuin, Kodaiji Temple. There will be no admission fee. Exhibited items will be determined later.

The cooperative's head director, said, "I would like people to feel close to altars. At the same time, I want to motivate craftspeople by increasing their opportunities to use their skills." Takashi Ito, a sculptor who has made wooden replicas of hammers, planes and chisels, said, "I hope young children can get familiar with traditional crafts by touching these."

(translated by Galileo, Inc.)

Photo= Hand-made toys created using skills for producing Buddhist altars and altar fittings (Miyakomesse, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto)