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I am working on Japanese texts describing Buddhist temples in South-East Asia and there is quite a number of words I can't really translate in English. Here is a list with my tentative translations (I wrote a ~ next to the words whose meaning I am really unsure of):

  • 結界石{けっかいせき} (~): rules tablet/barrier stones
  • 布薩堂{ふさつどう} (~): confession hall
  • 講堂{こうどう}: auditorium
  • サーラー さぁらぁ(~): open pavillion
  • 僧坊{そうぼう}: monk cell
  • 鼓楼{ころう}: drum tower
  • 三蔵庫{さんぞうく}: library
  • 仏教{さんぞう}教育{きょういく}学校{がっこう}: buddhist school
  • 普通{ふつう}教育{きょういく}学校{がっこう}: regular school
  • 火葬場{かそうば}: funeral hall
  • 仏塔{ぶっとう}式納{しきのう}骨塔{こつとう}: bone keep in pagoda
  • 壁式{かべしき}納骨所{のうこつば}: bone keep in wall
  • 瞑想場{めいそうば}: meditation hall
  • 洞窟{どうくつない}内仏{ぶつ}像祭壇{ぞうさいだん}: altar in cave
  • 精霊祠{しょうりょうし}: guardian spirit house
  • 碑文{ひぶん}: epitaph/scriptures

Does this look fine?

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Some of these are listed in the excellent "Digital Dictionary of Buddhism" (電子佛教辭典): buddhism-dict.net/ddb . –  Dono Mar 7 '12 at 13:39
Thank you very much for the link! It helped with "結界石" which is apparently translated as "rules tablet". It might be the time to visit the South-East Asian Studies department of my local university :) –  Julien Bourdon Mar 7 '12 at 14:04
For the benefit of other people who would be interested in these words, please add furigana. :) –  Dave M G Mar 7 '12 at 14:39
Also, I think 火葬場 is "crematorium", not "funeral hall", but maybe the context you're coming from changes it. –  Dave M G Mar 7 '12 at 14:41
Some words are awkward (e.g., 普通教育学校), and some sound not like a single word but like a temporarily made up expression (e.g., 仏塔式納骨塔, 壁式納骨所, 洞窟内仏像祭壇). –  sawa Mar 7 '12 at 15:25
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1 Answer

up vote 2 down vote accepted
  • 結界石{けっかいせき}: rules tablet/barrier stones
  • 布薩堂{ふさつどう}: confession hall (or: Uposatha hall 1)
  • 講堂{こうどう}: auditorium (or: lecture hall)
  • サーラー さぁらぁ: open pavilion (or: open pavilion for resting)
  • 僧坊{そうぼう}: monk cell (or possibly: monks' temple quarters, but "cell" seems to be more of a set phrase)
  • 鼓楼{ころう}: drum tower (or almost: bell tower. Depending on the audience, perhaps, "bell tower" might help readers better understand that a "drum" here, is used like a "bell". 2)
  • 三蔵庫{さんぞうく}: library (or: library for the three branches of Buddhist sutras)
  • 仏教教育学校{さんぞうきょういくがっこう}: Buddhist school
  • 普通教育学校{ふつうきょういくがっこう}: regular school (or: common school / almost: secular school)
  • 火葬場{かそうば}: funeral hall (or crematorium. However, here, using funeral hall helps to include the idea that funerals are often held at crematoriums, at least in Thailand. 3)
  • 仏塔式納骨塔{ぶっとうしきのうこつとう}: bone keep in pagoda (or: pagoda columbarium 4)
  • 壁式納骨所{かべしきのうこつば}: bone keep in wall (or: columbarium wall)
  • 瞑想場{めいそうば}: meditation hall (Note: I've seen this written as めいそうじょう as well; perhaps because it's a place where people can practice meditation?)
  • 洞窟内仏像祭壇{どうくつないぶつぞうさいだん}: altar in cave (or: Buddhist cave shrine)
  • 精霊祠{しょうりょうし}: guardian spirit house (or just: spirit house/shrine because the spirits are not always guardians. 5, 6)
  • 碑文{ひぶん}: epitaph/scriptures (seems more like epitaph, here, unless a sutra is found on an epitaph, perhaps.)

Hope this helps!


  1. http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/nanavara/uposatha.html (found in Glossary under Uposatha part 3)
  2. http://www.weblio.jp/content/%E9%BC%93%E6%A5%BC
  3. http://www.thai-blogs.com/2011/08/05/what-to-expect-if-you-are-invited-to-a-thai-funeral/ (near middle of page)
  4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Columbarium
  5. http://ja.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=%E3%83%94%E3%83%BC%E4%BF%A1%E4%BB%B0#.E5.88.86.E9.A1.9E
  6. http://www.chiangmai-chiangrai.com/spirit_house.html
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Great! Thank you very much! I really appreciate that you took the trouble to get the sources. –  Julien Bourdon Mar 9 '12 at 7:41
This is a great piece of detective work and obviously took a lot of time. On 'monk's cell', I think this is probably the usual naming (plenty of Google hits), although admittedly as languages change old usages do become unfamiliar and prone to misinterpretation. –  Bathrobe Mar 9 '12 at 22:49
@Bathrobe Thanks; and, good point about the "cell" part, too... I edited that part to reflect your suggestion. –  summea Mar 9 '12 at 23:41
@JulienBourdon Glad I could help a little! –  summea Mar 9 '12 at 23:43
Also, I think that 鼓楼 is actually drum tower. The bell tower is known as 鐘楼. –  Bathrobe Mar 9 '12 at 23:51
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