The sign tells us it's a Japanese Style Buddhist Hearse. It says:

Based on a 1991 Toyota Crown Saloon, this hearse has been extensively modified to accommodate the small ornate Buddhist Temple that is used to carry the coffin.

Constructed of carved wood which has then been painted or gold leafed, it has been further embellished with brass ornamentation in the traditional "Tokyo" style, the roof covered in real copper sheeting. In Japan, hearses tend to come in two styles: "Foreign" style, which is similar in build and style to an English or American hearse, or a "Japanese" style, in which the rear area of the vehicle is modified to resemble an ornate Buddhist temple.

There are regional differences of ornaments. "Nagoya" style decorates not only the upper half of the vehicle, but the lower half as well. "Kansai" style has relatively modest decorations which remain unpainted and are not gilded. "Kanazawa" style is known for having a red bodywork (other styles mostly have black bodywork) with gilded ornaments. Tokyo style, found anywhere else in Japan, features painted/gilded ornaments on the upper half of the bodywork.

This particular vehicle was imported into the country by a collector in 2008 and we have only recently acquired it to add to our own historical and educational funeral vehicle collection. The vehicle will undergo some minor restoration and will be used mainly for display and educational purposes but would be made available if a family requested to use it.

We are currently beginning research into the relevance of the various symbolisation of the carriage and ornaments.

Bakewell Show, 4 Aug 2011


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