Gongyo:  Step-by-step tutorial on

How to Make Your Own Custom Chanting Beads for Gongyo and Daimoku (Juzu)

Overview:  making and repairing Juzu is within the capabilities of most people.  A lot of members are interested in arts & crafts.  Some would like to try but think they can't do it.  You can if you want to.  If all else fails, chant.  Juzu have a certain pattern and meaning to the arrangement and order of the beads.  Your Juzu will be correct for SGI Nichiren pattern.  Many other Buddhist sects have their own style.  If you actually make a set, you will want to make more.  They make great gifts for fellow Buddhists. 


You need to get the beads and equipment on the supply list.  I can suggest substitutes for some items, but some items are critical.  If you plan to make a lot of chanting beads, buy the proper tools.  They are cheap and last forever.  The cost of the beads is up to you.  I would suggest you start off with attractive beads at the moderate price range.  Making Juzu takes about 2-3 hours, longer at first.  Please don't waste your time on unattractive beads.  If you are thinking of using plastic beads, STOP READING and step away from your computer. Just go buy some from the bookstore.  Bookstore beads are fine and are improving selection.  However, many of them are made from Plastic ïŒ that I don't personally like.  Good glass or stone beads sell for up to $100.  You can make quality glass bead sets for about $10-15. 


Note on selling to members:  I personally don't sell to members and just give bead sets away.  My karma seems to go haywire if I do business with members.  That's just my personal view.  (I have financial security and free time.  See Ten Good Reasons To Chant. The Universe is telling me not to be greedy).  Your situation may be different. I suggest you get guidance from a person you trust before selling to members. 


The Process In Summary


Beads of specific sizes and in a precise order are strung on parallel strands of stringing material. The right side of the bead set has 3 bead strands and the left side has two. The strung beads are held in place with crimping beads. The beads need to be a specified size to make the finished product within normal parameters. Please don't try to use beads that are the wrong size.  DURING THE BEAD MAKING PROCESS ALWAYS HAVE A SET OF COMMERCIAL BEADS TO REFER TO FOR THE PROPER BEAD ORDER.  Machines do not make counting errors. 


Bead List:


At least 148 beads of 6 mm size: these make the bulk of the beads you will use.  "EARTHLY DESIRES" (represent your 108 earthly desires.  When you put your hands together with one twist this represents the mutual possession of the ten worlds.  The four bodhisattva beads rubbing lightly against the 108 beads, represents the fulfillment of your earthly desires but infused with the four virtues of the Buddha's life: true self, eternity, purity and happiness.)


7 beads of 13 mm size or slightly larger or smaller. These go on the ends of the 5 strands and connect the main body of the beads to the 5 strands. They represent your desire for "KOSEN RUFU" and are called Kosen Rufu Babbles (the cotton balls that get dirty and fall apart).  The two 13mm beads that connect the two main strands represent Shakyamuni (right) and Taho (left) Buddhas.  WHEN I HOLD THE BEADS CORRECTLY AND CHANT NAM-MYOHO-RENGE-KYO TO THE GOHONZON with faith in MY Buddha Nature, MY LIFE BECOMES THE TREASURE TOWER OR THE GOHONZON ITSELF.  Just like the Gohonzon I HAVE THE PERSON AND THE LAW, SHAKYAMUNI on my right AND TAHO on my left, the four bodhisattvas AND THE NINE OTHER WORLDS.  Never seek the Gohonzon outside of yourself. Abutsubo is the Treasure Tower. 


1 package of crimping beads.  These come in packages, buy one package.  These hold your bead strings together.  Crimping beads need to be large enough to pass four strands of wire through the opening.


1 package of 06 size seed beads.  These replace the cotton string used on store bought beads.


4 beads of 6mm or 5mm size.  These need to be different from the other 6mm beads.  "4 bodhisattvas"


4 beads of 8mm size beads.  These are "BUCKET BEADS" or jar beads holding your benefits from practicing Buddhism.


Materials and Tool List:


Stringing material.  4 pieces of 36 inch-long

7 strand stainless steel vinyl coated wire.


Note:  The middle part of your finished bead set takes a lot of stress. The above stringing material resists stress.  Stress can be relieved by stringing your beads with a gap in the middle part of your bead set.  No matter what you use, the middle part might break.  Be prepared to fix them. I string my bead sets with two wire strands on each side of the middle part. If one of the middle strands fails, I won't lose the beads.  Wal-Mart sells 40 feet of 7 strand vinyl coated wire for $2.00.  It comes in various colors.


1 cut off pliers.  (Substitute, use good nail clippers.)


1 crimping pliers.  (Substitute, use needle nose pliers.)


Masking tape.  (Blue painter's tape works well.)


Where to get stuff.


One Stop in-Store:  Michaels, Joann's, and Wal-Mart.  Note:  look for sales in the Sunday newspapers or online at store sites.  One store may not have what you want in stock.  Shop around. Make sure you are buying the right size beads by looking on the packaging, on line catalog, or measuring.


Local bead stores have not been completely wiped out by the mega stores.  They usually offer classes.  These tend to be more expensive than the big stores but are local and tend to have a wide selection of beads.  If you want to support local businesses, buy some beads there. (Exception: Bead Haven in Las Vegas on Lake Mead.  They are mean and treat customers with little respect.)


Most beads are made in China or Europe.  This can not be helped. But if you have a source for locally made beads, please let me know.


On Line:  Shipwreck Beads; Rio Grande; Fire Mountain are three big sellers.  All are reputable and have big selections.  Shipwreck is located in Seattle so you might visit if you live in the area.


There are lots of on line sellers, but buyer beware.


Bead Shows:  There are giant bead shows around the country.  You might try them if they are in shooting distance of where you live.  Sometimes attractive glass beads sell for as little as $2.00 per string.


Let's Make Juzu.


1.      Take 4 wire stands (each about 36 inches long) and place one crimping bead over all 4 stands and crimp about 12 inches from one end.  Note:  you are making two parallel strings of beads.  Each string has TWO wires.

2.      String one 13 mm bead over all 4 wire strands.  (Note: if your 13mm bead moves past the crimping bead, add any bead that will fit over all 4 strands of wire.)

3.      Take two wire strands and string 5-7 seed beads on the two wire strands.  Ignore the other two strands for the time being.

4.      After the seed beads, string 7 (of the 148) 6 mm beads.


5.      String one Bodhisattva bead.

6.      String 14 (of the 148) 6 mm beads.

7.      String one Bodhisattva bead.

8.      String 33 (of the 148) 6 mm beads.

9.      String 5-7 seed beads.

10.  Tape off the strands with beads to keep them from falling off.

11.  Do the same thing on the unbeaded two strands.  Make sure you start from the same end that you started the first strands.  When you finish the second string of beads, both bead strings need to match exactly.  COUNT YOUR BEADS or you may end up with the wrong number of beads.  You will be a sad Buddhist ïŒ.

12.  Remove the tape from the first string.

13.  String one 13 mm bead over all 4 strands.

14.    String one crimping bead over all 4 strands and crimp in place.


15.  RIGHT SIDE THREE (3) BEAD STRINGS.  Cut off one wire flush with the 13mm bead, leaving 3 wire strands. 

16.     On wire #1 string beads in this order:

5 seed beads

5-6mm beads

1-8mm bucket (jar beads)

10-15 seed beads

1 crimp bead.  DO NOT CRIMP YET

1 seed bead

1-13mm bead

1-6 or 8 mm bead

1seed bead

FINISH by looping wire around (not through) end seed bead, passing back through 6 or 8mm bead, 13mm bead, seed bead, crimp bead.  Pull tight and crimp.  See diagram.


17.  Do the same with wire strand 2.

18.  Wire strand 3 is the same as #1 and #2 EXCEPT:  string 10-6mm beads instead of 5.  DO NOT USE A BUCKET BEAD following the 10-6mm beads.


19.  LEFT SIDE with 2 bead strings. Cut off 2 wires, flush with the crimp bead, leaving 2 wires.


20. String 1 6mm or 8mm (kyochi myogo) bead over both wires.


20.  Wire #1: 3 seed beads; 5-6mm beads; 1 seed bead.


21.  Wire #2: same as wire #1.


22.  1 seed bead over both wires #1 and #2.


23.    Wire #1: 1 seed bead; 5-6mm beads; 1 bucket (jar) bead; 10-15 seed beads; 1 crimp bead DO NOT CRIMP YET; 1 seed bead; 1-13mm; 1 6mm bead; 1 seed bead. FINISH by looping wire around (not through) end seed bead, back through 6 or 8mm bead; 13mm; seed and crimp bead.  Pull tight and crimp.  (SEE DIAGRAM.)


24.  Wire #2: same as wire #1.





You should be done.  I know these directions may seem complicated but they are necessary to arrive at a correct set of beads.  Do it once and you will get it. These directions get you to a standard set of beads.  You can add decorative touches to your bead sets as long as you include the correct number and order of the basic SGI Nichiren pattern.


See diagrams below.