Where should I put my altar?


Where should I put my altar?

Japanese Buddhist Altar

Japanese Buddhist Altar


I was wondering if there was a specific spot that I should put my altar, and is it ok to put it outside?

My answer:

Thank you for your question.

Buddhist altars are usually something quite personal and for this reason, they should be setup in a quiet place, where visitors do not usually go. They should also be kept clean. If possible, it is better to dedicate a room for it but it is often not the case.

In Japan the Buddhist altar is either in a bedroom, a spare room or the tatami mat covered Japanese style room. To help with privacy and in keeping it cleaned, Japanese people often use what is called a Butsudan. (Buddha podium) (仏壇)

They are basically a cabinet with shelves set-up inside to put the different apparatus. Different Buddhist sects have different layouts and those can be very austere or very lavish.

When not in use, one simply closes the doors.

As for putting your altar outside, chances are that it will be damages by the elements or will be neglected. There is no reason not to do it, but I would cover it as much as possible to protect it.

About the orientation of the altar, it depends on the Buddha worshipped. If you are a Pure Land followers, it is better to set it up so that you would face West while sitting in front of it as Amida Nyorai is the Buddha of the West Pure Land.


I hope this answers your question. For more details, you can consult the following book: