(Image: Aoyama Square)
Golden leaf of Kanazawa, which take up 98% of Japan’s entire gold leaf production, is used for making various crafts from lacquer and pottery to historically valuable temples/shrines such as Kinkakuji in Kyoto and Nikko Tosho-gu.
In making of gold leaf, a small, a dime-size golden alloy is stretched into a size of one tatami (1.62m²) without losing its brilliance. This luxurious beauty produced by the intricate techniques of the crafts people is what makes Kanazawa gold leaf famous.
Kanazawa Gold Leaf is about 1/10000㎜Thick
In order to stretch the gold leaf as much as possible, a small portion of silver and copper is mixed into a pure gold. After it goes through a long process, the finished product is said to be about 1~3/10000mm thick, which makes it impossible for people to touch by hand without causing any cracks. It is so delicate that the crafts people are required to use bamboo chopsticks when dealing with the stretched gold leaf. But this frail thinness is what creates a beauty unlike others when used on items such as lacquerware for decoration.
(Image: Kogei Japan)
Why People Favor Gold Over Other Colors- ― Talisman Charm, Health, After Death
From the old days, gold was believed to have a magical power that keeps the evil away, and was treasured as a charm that brings in good fortune.
Gold is also believed to be good for health, so items such as liquor, tea, and sweets with golden leaf in them are quite popular. In ancient China, it was even believed that one can turn into an immortal being by taking a medicine called ‘Kintan’ made by an alchemist. Gold cannot make one an immortal as the tale claims, but it is scientifically proven that the compound of ion emitted from gold and from a person is good for their skin. If you’re interested, you can get a hold of gold leaf soap and lotions too.
Gold Leaf ‘Kagayaki’ Ice cream
Price: 891 JPY (approx. $8 / €7)
（※It’s edible, and will not cause you any harm）
Lastly, let me introduce you to some of the products that uses gold leaf.
Japanese Fan (Uchiha)
Sake Bottle & Sake Cup
Gold Lotion (Skin Lotion)
I really recommend eating gold leaf ice cream, or anything that has its half to whole body covered up, because the texture is nothing like what you’ve experienced before. The feeling disappears in an instant, but you’d be surprised at how thin it is.
Author - Kanna
A writing/translating enthusiast and a part-time illustrator, recently graduated from Sophia University. My expertise is in media and English studies, but I am also interested in a wide variety of fields, including traditions of art in Japan and how it has changed and been preserved. I hope people find interest in Japan through this blog!