Yoshida Gennojoe-Roho, preserving traditional techniques of Kyoto household Buddhist Altars and Kyoto Buddhist religious objects

Kyoto household Buddhist altar and Kyoto Buddhist religious objects are designated as traditional Japanese crafts. They are believed to have originated in the 9th century in Kyoto, the birthplace of Buddhist altars, where traditional techniques have been used since ancient times to produce a wide variety of products for household and temple.

Among them, Yoshida Gennojoe-Roho is a Buddhist altar store with a 450-years history, located in Sanjo, Kyoto. Founded in 1572 by Yoshida Gennojoe, this shop boasts years of experience, technique and knowledge, supplying the highest quality Buddhist altar fittings for 15 generations until now. In this article, we will introduce a story about the Kyoto household Buddhist altar and Buddhist statues made by traditional craft techniques in Kyoto and interesting details about Yoshida Gennojoe-Roho.

Kyoto Buddhist Altar and Religious Objects


The origin of Kyoto household Buddhist altars and Kyoto Buddhist religious objects designated as the traditional crafts in Japan is deeply linked to the history of Buddhism which gained a foothold in Japan around the 6th century. After that, it is believed that Buddhism spread among the common people around the 9th century, during the Heian period. Since that time, Buddhist altar fittings have started to be produced in Kyoto.

Kyoto household Buddhist altars

A Buddhist altar is a ‘small temple inside a house’ that allows you to conduct prayers in front of the religious image you believe in without having to go to the temple. Buddhist altars became the integral part of each household during the Edo period, and as they gained popularity over the years, they also took on another role. Through the altar, people can show their respect and gratitude to ancestors and hold a memorial service for the deceased members. Having said that, these days the memorial tablets are also placed on the Buddhist altar.

The Buddhist altar’s birthplace is Kyoto, and its shape based on the head temple is the basic template for Buddhist altars nationwide. The highest quality Buddhist altars are hand-made using traditional techniques such as woodwork, sculpture, lacquer, foil stamping, and anchor metal ornaments. The Buddhist altar is not a single craftsman creation but a combination of traditional techniques. In order to create one Buddhist altar, you need to go through 10 different processes and get several skilled craftsmen involved.

Kyoto Buddhist religious objects

Religious objects were originally special tools used in Buddhist ceremonies. As the Buddhist altars became more widespread, religious objects were embraced by the general public and became an integral part of Japanese people's life.
Religious objects also originate from Kyoto. Traditional techniques such as wood carving, lacquer coating, and iron casting are used to produce religious objects. There are more than 1500 types of religious objects, all of which are handmade by craftsmen.

Yoshida Gennojoe-Roho that produces and sells Kyoto household Buddhist Altars and Kyoto Buddhist religious objects

Yoshida Gennojoe-Roho has been making religious objects in Kyoto since its founding in 1572. It has been passing the title of master sculptors from one generation to another, and has been also using this technique for restoration of cultural properties, art works, Buddhist altars and religious objects. While respecting that tradition, it has been actively developing new techniques and products, offering high-quality products at the store and online shop in Sanjo, Kyoto.

There are about 300 types of Buddhist statues and about 100 types of religious objects such as incense sticks and beads. In particular, Buddhist statues are in abundance and rare Buddhist statues can be found here. A portable shrine called kogobutsu is popular among customers, together with religious objects such as bracelet-type beads called udewa nenju and bells. Bells are made in modern designs and produce nice sounds, which makes it an attractive product for overseas customers.

The store is located near Kyoto Sanjo Ohashi, which is also called the starting point of the 53rd Tokaido highway. Feel free to drop by if you are visiting Kyoto!

Location: 23, Ishibashi-cho, Sanjo-dori-cho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto 604-8036
・ Get off at "Kyoto Shiyakusho-mae Station" on the subway and walk for about 5 minutes.
・ Get off at Keihan "Sanjo Station" and walk for about 8 minutes
・ Get off at Hankyu "Kawaramachi Station" and walk for about 8 minutes
・ Approximately 10 minutes by taxi from the Hachijo exit of Kyoto Station
Official HP: http://gennojoe.jp/