Gold Leaf Crafts
Kanazawa, named for one of its primary resources, produces more than 99% of all gold and silver leaf in Japan. The fine sheets of precious metal are essential for the country’s many shrines and temples, as well as a number of crafted products, including lacquerware adornment. Learn how to apply gold leaf to other products, and discover how a lump of gold is beaten into a sheet of gold leaf thinner than a human hair.
Kutani-yaki, characterized by a selection of five colors under a translucent glaze, is the process of throwing, shaping, baking and painting ceramics using locally developed and historically preserved styles. The oldest kutani ware, called ko-kutani, date to the beginning of the Edo period and are highly prized as works of art.
Using a technique for decorating lacquerware that literally translates to “sprinkled picture,” maki-e artists apply a coat of wet lacquer before dusting powdered gold and other metals onto the surface for both solid colors and gradient blends.
Kaga-nui, translating to “embroidery of the Kaga region,” traditionally decorates kimono and Buddhist altar cloths but is also popularly found on neckties, bags and cushions. Among the numerous individual techniques that fall under Kaga-nui are gold and silver stitching, called nuihaku, and 3D and coloring effects.
Grinding, burning, and finally, maki-e embellishments transform paulownia wood into beautifully detailed crafted works of art. With its unusually high ignition point, paulownia wood was once used for braziers, a traditional wedding gift. Today, the craftwork is often found as kitchenware and other accessories.