Visit craftsmen – Sanjo Butsudan Makie artists who test all possibilities

March 31, 2017 I visited Miyuki Kasuga, who is performing at Aoyama Square.

Sanjo Butsudan: Miyuki Kasuga

Sanjo Butsudan is a traditional craft of Sanjo City, Niigata Prefecture. It is also a locality where famous temples are built so much that it is called “Buddha City Sanjo”.

The beginning as a Sanjo Buddhist altar is said to have been a craftsman who was involved in the construction of Higashi Honganji Betsuin Temple built in the Edo period, and continues to make it by inheriting the technology.

Sanjo Butsudan, which has been a long-fledded relationship

My brother invited me to do it.

Kasuga-san has always loved drawing. When I was thinking about my career path, my brother (who was already active as a kiji master of Sanjo Butsudan at this time) told me if I was interested because there were few people who do makie, so I began to walk the path as a makie artist of Sanjo Butsudan.


My parents were not creators, but I may have chosen that path without any discomfort because my friend at the Buddhist altar shop was with my parents.


Activities at the Sanjo, Tsubame and Nishikan Buddhist Altar Association

The Sanjo, Tsubame, and Nishikan Buddhist altar associations were established in 1978 and were designated as traditional crafts by the government in 1970.

Kasuga says that he was one of those involved since the establishment of the union.


On the way, he got married, so he had left the union, but he returned and is now working as a major member.


Sanjo Monozukuri School

Saturday as a lecturer

Mr. Kasuga is currently active not only as a material making but also as a lecturer.


With Mr. Yamada, who is applying the same Sanjo Butsudan, we are holding a traditional craft [Sanjo Butsudan] production experience workshop at “Sanjo Monozukuri School”.


In addition to Sanjo Butsudan, Sanjo Monozukuri School also offers hammering copperware, typography experience, engraving experience, factory flea market, etc., so you can experience it at “Work”, “Manabu”, and “Play”.


Mr. Kasuga is a lecturer only on Saturdays, but he talked that the experience here was very enjoyable. Kasuga-san’s range of making things will expand because he receives a lot of ideas and inspiration that he had never thought of before.

Kasuga’s Makie artist style

When Kasuga-san had just entered the world, most of them had maki-e on Buddhist altars, and carefully painted traditional patterns such as phoenixes, seven lucky gods, and landscapes. However, he says that he started expressing himself in a way after his master told him that he should draw more freely.


Decades after Kasuga became a makie artist, an acquaintance asked me to draw maki-e other than a Buddhist altar. It was very fresh and fun because there was no idea to draw something else.


Now he feels more possibilities, and he said that he would like to draw it on tea utensils such as hatsune.

Various makie

Special Spoon

It was my first time to apply makie to stainless steel materials, so I was worried that it would be taken immediately, but when I used it, there was no problem, and it was commercialized.






Dice-shaped earrings

A newly made product for this exhibition. It is very cute.






Makie of a new attempt

This semicircle has a small hole, and when you pass through a string or chain, it becomes a necklace. A product made while searching for something.






Sanjo Buddhist altar in the future

Finally, when I asked him about the successor to Sanjo Butsudan, Makie-e-shi is still a young generation.

However, kijishi and metal fittings are in a critical situation.


In other production areas of Niigata Prefecture, Makie and the lacquerer said that even if there is a successor, there seems to be no young people who are going to become kijishi, and they are thinking about what to do in the future.



Mr. Kasuga, a makie artist who is exhibiting at the “Next Step: Sanjo Butsudan Exhibition” currently being held at the Takumi Corner, spoke with us this time. Mr. Kasuga is demonstrating at Aoyama Square until April 2.

After that, from April 3rd to 5th, you can also see a demonstration by Kangyo master Nobuhiro Igarashi, so please come to Aoyama Square.

What do you think?


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    Written by 工芸プレス


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