butsuma 仏間
KEY WORD : architecture / buildings & structures, folk dwellings
A room for Buddhist images (either two- or three-dimensional images) or, especially in a residence, an altar or tabernacle *butsudan 仏壇, in the form of a podium, or more frequently, a recess or cabinet. Here, alongside images, the ihai 位牌 (plaques inscribed with the posthumous name of deceased family members) are kept. The butsuma first appeared in the residential houses of the ruling class, where it was contained in a freestanding private chapel *jibutsudou 持仏堂. Thus the room containing the butsudan in the *Tougudou 東求堂, the or private chapel in the Higashiyama 東山 residence of Ashikaga Yoshimasa 足利義政 (1436-90), is called butsuma.
In vernacular houses *minka 民家 of the Edo period, the butsuma is a room within the main house. It has been argued that this represents the incorporation of the upper class private chapel within the common man's house, and certainly the earliest surviving evidence of a butsuma incorporated into the main house (1397: Rin'amitei sashi-zu 琳阿弥邸指図) shows a small room, one *tsubo 坪 in area, labelled jibutsudou. In minka, the term butsuma is usually used only when the accommodation of the butsudan is its principal or exclusive function of a room. In cases where the butsudan is kept in one of the main living rooms, such as the *oue 御上, or the more formal *dei 出居, there would be no butsuma. The position of the butsuma is not fixed but two locations may broadly be distinguished: those which are not part of the main circulation pattern and those which are. The formal butsuma tend to be small (about two-three *tatami 畳 mats) and enclosed, often similar to a back chamber *nando 納戸, though they usually adjoin a larger room that can be opened when offerings are made and ceremonies take place. In such cases it is usual for the worshippers to remain in the outer space. Only the officiating priest enters the inner room. This arrangement may have been influenced by the sanctuary *naijin 内陣, and outer hall *gejin 外陣, layout of temple architecture.
The more open type of butsuma is often situated close to the main formal reception room *zashiki 座敷, and may function as an ante-room, tsugi-no-ma 次の間. This is common among the urban houses *machiya 町家, of Chuubu 中部 and Hokuriku 北陸 regions, examples in Takayama 高山, the main town of Hida 飛騨 district. When there is no zashiki, the butsuma may be the most formal reception room in the house, as is often the case in Joudoshin 浄土真 sect, heartland of Chuubu and Hokuriku. The term is frequently applied to rooms found in the minka of Touhoku 東北, Hokuriku, Kinki 近畿, northern Kyuushuu 九州 and northern Shikoku 四国 regions.

*butsudan-no-ma 仏壇の間

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