Munefuda (棟札)

A munefuda is a tag affixed to the inside of buildings such as temples, shrines or private residences, placed in a high position such as on a roof beam, as a record of or to commemorate the construction or renovation of the building. Typically, wooden tags or copper boards on which the records are inscribed are attached with nails. Sometimes the record is written directly on the joists of the buildings and they are called "ryojomei," but the purpose is the same as "muneki."

The messages they contain allude to the purpose of construction and renovation and construction records such as dates, the main constructors, the names of carpenters, among other references to things concerning the building. They are of great variety and stretch from simple ones to detailed ones, to ones which contain pictures. Munefudas are put in places which are not usually viewed, and as time goes by they are often forgotten. Such munefudas are sometimes discovered when the buildings are torn down or repaired.

Although the descriptions on munefuda may contain some errors, they are important historical resources relating to buildings and the history or culture of the area, and many of them are registered as cultural properties. The oldest munefuda is one written in 1122 and stored in Chusonji temple in Iwate Prefecture.

[Original Japanese]