Gold Leaf Capital of Japan: Kanazawa Keeps a Long Tradition Alive

Guide to Japan Culture

Kanazawa, capital of Ishikawa Prefecture on the Sea of Japan, is also capital of Japan’s gold leaf craft, accounting for 99% of the country’s total production. The history of this local handicraft is said to date back to the sixteenth century, and traditional production techniques are still in use.

In addition to being applied for decorative effect on works of art, such as folding screens (byōbu) and maki-e lacquerware, and on butsudan, the Buddhist family altars found in many Japanese homes, gold leaf is included as an ingredient in cosmetics and food products. Perhaps the most extravagant use of the precious material is as a topping for cones of soft ice cream.

(Originally published in Japanese. Created in cooperation with Kanazawa Cable Television.)

Kanazawa Ishikawa Hokuriku gold