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Japan’s City of Gold Protects a Valuable Tradition

In the Japanese town of Kanazawa, everything glimmers in gold. The town is responsible for producing 99 percent of all the gold leaf in the country. The gold foil, known as kinpaku, is pounded down to 0.0001 millimeters and sold to local craftsmen to be used on bowls, chopsticks, statues and even food.

image/text credit: Great Big Story 

For the artisans responsible for creating kinpaku, keeping a valuable tradition alive is its own reward.A gold leaf is made by beating gold into an extremely thin sheet with a thickness of 0.1 to 0.125 millionths of a meter.

image/text credit: Great Big Story 

It is so thin that it will disappear when you rub it with your fingers.The production of gold leaf started in Kanazawa at the end of the 16th century.A rolling mill is used to thin gold mixed with a little silver and copper.


The thinned gold sheet is sandwiched with special paper and beaten with a machine repeatedly to a thickness of around 0.0001 millimeters.Gold leaf is used for handicrafts, such as vessels and ornaments, as well as the decoration of temples, shrines, Buddhist altars, and Buddhist instruments.

Gold leaf technical stores in the city sell a variety of products, such as tissues using special paper used for the production of gold leaf, cosmetics containing gold leaf, and food containing gold leaf, besides gold leaf handicraft including chinaware, woodenware, ornaments, and accessories.