About Metal Leaf
About Metal Leaf
In the religious field, gold leaf has been valued as a source of eternal light and used for temples and shrines as well as Buddhist images, altars and ritual items.
It is also used for various other purposes such as folding screens, paper door decorations, lacquerware, ceramics and textiles and recently in a wide range of areas including interior design, architecture, food and esthetics.
Metal leaf is a one-of-a-kind item with a hidden attractiveness beyond verbal expression.
The history of Kanazawa metal leaf
At the end of the 17th century, the government established Hakuza in Edo (present-day Tokyo) to control the manufacturing and sales of metal leaf, and prohibited gold leaf production except for in Hakuza in Edo and Kyoto. Nevertheless, metal leaf workers in Kanazawa continued their efforts to preserve gold leaf production.
Subsequently, the control of metal leaf production ended when the Edo government collapsed due to the Meiji restoration. As a result, metal leaf production disappeared from Edo, while Kanazawa became free to produce metal leaf, becoming famous for its gold leaf production.
Due to these natural and historic factors, Kanazawa has become a city well-known for its metal leaf production, and manufactures most of Japan’s metal leaf.
Gold leaf manufacturing methods
In order to create gold beating paper, traditional handmade Japanese paper made from ganpi plant fibers is carefully processed with water, straw ash lye, persimmon tannin and egg white for as long as half a year.
The entsuke gold leaf manufacturing method was selected as a Japanese traditional technique to be preserved by the Agency for Cultural Affairs on October 23, 2014.
In addition, it was registered as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage under “traditional skills, techniques and knowledge for the conservation and transmission of wooden architecture in Japan”, which consist of 17 fields.
This method uses glassine paper with special carbon applied. Tachikiri gold leaf can be manufactured in less time than entsuke gold leaf, which requires a great deal of attention and time for paper preparation and gold leaf beating.
Also, in the entsuke gold leaf trimming process, each sheet is placed on leather and trimmed using a bamboo frame, while in the tachikiri gold leaf trimming process, 500 to 1000 sheets of gold leaf are layered alternately between sheets of Japanese paper and trimmed at once.
*Although there are modern gold leaf production methods similar to the tachikiri method in other countries, the method using handmade ganpi paper for beating gold (entsuke method) is unique to Japan.
*The alloy composition is the same in both entsuke gold leaf and tachikiri gold leaf, despite the difference in their production methods.