The Butsudan Alter Drive-Thru As exciting as driving past religious implements can get

    In Odarawa, Kanagawa prefecture, there is a very unique place to visit. It’s a butsudan (family home Buddhist altar), drive-thru. You might imagine this to be a place for those who can’t afford their own altar – Just drive up and pray to the altar from your car.

    Actually, it’s a shop where you can buy a butsudan. Does this mean you can drive through here and grab a $5000 altar like a cup of coffee from McDonald’s?

    Well…let’s find out.

    Butsudan Altar Drive-Thru: A Linear Adventure

    Big, nondescript red building, shot from the side

    At first it appears to be just a normal shop. But if you go to the front…

    The same red building with an entry-way visible

    You notice an opening.

    A closer view of the entrance where you can see it’s lined with displays

    Get closer still and you’ll see a sign that that says “drive-thru.”

    More precisely, it says “drive-look-thru.” What the heck is a drive-look-thru?

    A view down the opening, which is completely paved

    This, apparently. You can window shop for butsudan while driving. Ummm…sounds like a good idea. Let’s give it a whirl!

    A close-up of one of the displays, which contains a small shrine for sale

    As you pull in, you’re greeted with rows of sparkling, golden altars.

    More altars of varying fanciness

    And more!

    More altars

    And…more.

    More altars

    The pink sign says if you buy a butsudan and a gravestone at the same time, you get a discount. Save money by planning ahead!

    A close up of a sign written in Japanese

    What a lovely gravestone. Just think of the savings!

    Looking back on the building, having come out the other end of the hallway

    Well, that was fun. I certainly like looking at products without being bothered by sales clerks. But, where’s the microphone if I want to place an order…?

    Another fairly nondescript low building

    I went to the backside of the building, but still couldn’t find a microphone. There were some parking spaces, and…

    A cute beagle tied up outside the building next to a dog house
    The same young beagle

    …A REALLY CUTE PUPPY!!! Other than that, there was nothing special back here.

    I went back out front and noticed the buzzer.

    A wall with a buzzer

    I pushed the buzzer to get assistance. I wanted to ask why this drive-thru was made. Unfortunately nobody answered. However, I still had a little luck.

    A fluffy brown shiba being pet

    Right across the road from the drive-thru was this CUTE DOGE with an owner attached. The doge’s owner knew why the altar shop has a drive-thru. It was rather simple.

    The shop could only build their parking lot in the back of their store and they needed to make a driveway to gain access to it. So they built the driveway through their store. Quite clever actually.

    A white golden retriever amidst some greenery

    Right after saying bye-bye to the doge, another cute puppy popped up. There were so many cute dogs in this area. My adventure became more a dog photo shoot than anything else.

    The outside of Isaida Station. An informational plaque about wave heights is posted on the wall.

    You can find this unique altar drive-thru as well as the cute doggies at Isaida station in the Odawara area, in Kanagawa prefecture.

    Fun fact: it’s 10.4m higher than sea level.

    Butsudan Alter Drive-Thru

    Pros

    • This is the only altar drive-thru in Japan, and likely the only one in the world
    • Puppies!

    Cons

    • It was not an exciting place at all
    • You have to walk about 10 minutes from Isaida station, which is one station away (3 minute ride) from the bigger Odawara station
    • This place isn’t that great, unless you like visiting places that are one-of-a-kind in the world, or if you are actually thinking about buying a butsudan. It could have been rated a 1 or 2, but again, the puppies bumped it up a bit

    Overall Rating

    3

    Accessibility Rating

    6

    Fun Rating

    2

    Uniqueness Rating

    10

    Additional Information

    2-6-58 Ougichou
    Odawara City, Kanagawa Prefecture 250-0001
    Japan

    View on map