Gorgeous traditional Japanese cultural products | Gold Leaf


Kanazawa Gold-Leaf, one of the most aureate traditional Japanese crafts

Do you know that there is an area in Japan that produces gold leaf like no other? It is called Kaga(now Kanazawa city), and it is located in Ishikawa Prefecture in Japan. It is not only used for important cultural properties, but even today it is an essential part of majestic buildings, ornaments, and interiors, and is of worldwide value. This is not simply because of its value as “gold,” but also because the product value is incredibly high. One of the reasons for this is that it is extremely delicate to handle, and its quality can easily deteriorate if it is handled roughly. This is why products decorated with gold leaf have a high value and are sought after by people all over the world.

Gold leaf as a traditional Japanese craft

Japan is one of the top countries in the world in terms of the quality of gold leaf. What is the origin of this quality? It is truly a traditional craft. Kanazawa (Kaga) is the place where this traditional craft has been handed down to this day. Ishikawa Prefecture accounts for 99% of Japan’s production. Moreover, the majority of this product there is produced using techniques cultivated through traditional crafts. There are several reasons why Ishikawa Prefecture is the world’s leading producer. In this article, we will look at the history in Kanazawa (Kaga) and the characteristics of the land to unravel the reasons.

gold leaf room

What has brought Ishikawa prefecture
leading area of gold leaf

1. History

There is no clear evidence that indicates when the first gold leaf was manufactured.  But decorations with it started from the era when no written documents or wall decoration with written format existed. However, historical findings have revealed that gold leaf decoration began more at least around 200 A.D. in Japan. In other words, the advent of technics applied to gold leaf started before the ear, meaning traditional Japanese craftsmanship regarding gold leaf has an extremely long history.

The beginning of Kaga(Kanazawa) gold leaf dates back to 1593 when Toshiie Maeda, the founder of the Kaga clan, had the clan’s craftsmen manufacture the product on the orders of Hideyoshi Toyotomi (the ruler of Japan at the time). At that time, the order was not for decorative objects of hobby or taste, but for the decoration of spears and other weapons. With the acquisition of a license to make a gold leaf for the Kaga Clan in 1864, Kanazawa’s this traditional industry developed dramatically in both quality and quantity. The license system limited the areas where the industry could develop, and the volume of demand at that time was sufficient to develop the industry, so this industry had flourished rapidly in Kanazawa. 

After that, the clan system disappeared and the  industry, which was controlled by the clan, quickly expanded its commercial opportunities. When gold leaf, high quality as an offering to the Edo shogunate, was recognized by the general public, its reputation spread throughout Japan. World War I devastated Germany, which had been the largest foil-producing country in Europe until then, and the foil industry in Kanazawa developed dramatically. Kanazawa gold leaf has developed to this day, deeply rooted in religious beliefs, such as Buddhist altars, or altar equipment.

2. Climate 

One of the reasons why Kanazawa is famous for this gorgeous product is due to the high humidity. Static electricity caused by dryness is a major enemy in the gold leaf manufacturing process. If static electricity runs through the thinly stretched products, black spots, tears, and wrinkles will occur, making it impossible to sell. Kanazawa in Ishikawa prefecture faces the Sea of Japan which generates upstream clouds, so Kanazawa has a lot of rain throughout the year. In addition, the clouds interfere with sunlight by which the city records low sunshine rates every year, resulting in preventing airs dried by the Sun.

3. Water

It may come as a surprise, but water is used in the manufacturing stage of gold leaf. And water quality has a tremendous impact on the level of its quality. The most important characteristic is the presence or absence of impurities. If there are too many  impurities in the water, its color will be dulled and sometimes spots will appear in the beautiful gold color. The cold, impurity-free water from the melting snow is an important piece of the high-quality Kanazawa gold leaf.

4. Skilled craftsmen

If about 2 grams of gold is stretched to a size of 1.62 square meters, it becomes a gold leaf as thin as 1/10,000th of a millimeter. To achieve this ultimate thinness, outstanding craftsmanship is essential. This is exactly the kind of traditional craft that has been passed down from generation to generation. If you hit it too hard, it will tear, but if you don’t hit it hard enough, it won’t stretch evenly. It is a process that requires tremendous patience and delicacy. In this process of beating and spreading, various kinds of paper are used as a base. This is also interesting and will be explained in another article. The skill and sensitivity of the craftsman are essential in deciding which paper to use and when to use it, and when to change the paper.

gold leaf ice cream

Gold leaf around you today.

Originally, the gold-traditional craft played a major role as a major material for the religious crafts of Buddhist altars (such as Yamagata Buddhist altars and Iiyama altars) or and altar equipment, but now it has become an indispensable piece of interior decoration and ornamentation. Gold expresses a sense of luxury and dignity. In order to utilize it for interior decoration, etc., pure gold must be incorporated into the form of gold leaf. Thanks to the skills of traditional craftsmen, we are now able to incorporate the gorgeous and delicate traditional craft into our daily lives. Though of course, it is a bit expensive! Especially the interior products made by the traditional craftsmen in Kanazawa, Japan, are very shiny and elaborate and can be used for a long time without the gold color fading.

We will introduce some products that use a lot of Kanazawa gold leaf, so why don’t you make your room or house gorgeous with them.

 1. ART PANEL SHINRA | Kanazawa Gold Leaf


Price: 230.32 USD (other currency available)


The ancient and modern are combined in these gold-leaf panels from Kanazawa. While not as vibrant as “Twilight” or “Hakuichi,””Shinra” has a subtle brilliance and depth that complements either or both.
These panels were shipped internationally and arrived on time and unscathed: very securely packaged. Kawasaki at BECOS was patient and helpful in my ordering.
I think I will be enjoying this purchase for many years.

wall panel


gold leaf panel
gold leaf panel

Price: 1352.40 USD (other currency available)

Marbled patterns, cracked patterns, soft and delicate overlapping of gold threads, dripping like a contemporary art, and the traditional technique of Chigiri-foil. Using a wide variety of expression techniques, depicting trees, rocks, waterfalls, and lightning in nature. It is a perfect match for any room in Japan or the West.

gold leaf panel


gold leaf wall panel
ART PANEL TWILIGHT | Kanazawa Gold Leaf
A modern and stylish gold leaf art panel. A nostalgic scene of Japan is depicted with a combination of colorful Kanazawa leaves.
This work of art is one that requires a lot of time and effort, with each sheet of gold leaf carefully attached.
Price: 275.40 USD (other currency available)


Have you become interested in this gorgeousness, which is gorgeous and glossy, yet creates a dignified atmosphere? Why don’t you bring the high-purity, high-quality Kanazawa gold leaf, which is difficult to obtain even in Japan, into your life? It will surely create a gorgeous and lively everyday life. Buying gold leaf works in Japan and sending them overseas is a better option than buying them directly from overseas. If you are interested, please contact us!
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