More interesting was the ‘house’ or perhaps room would be more accurate, where the walls inside and out were all covered in gold leaf – remarkable rather than beautiful.
We then found the gold leaf museum which was very interesting. 99% of gold leaf used in Japan comes from Kanazawa where it has been produced since 1593. The gold is first mixed with a very small proportion of copper and then rolled out to about 10th mm thickness when it is stress relieved. After that small pieces are placed between special paper made from ‘gagia’ roots. It has to be hammered 14 times each time again between new sheets of paper and always a thick pile of gold leaf and paper. Finally it ends up being 0.0001mm thick or perhaps one should say thin. The interesting thing is that with the hammering the gold becomes thinner and spreads out more, the paper however returns to its original size as soon as the hammer pressure lets up so that it does not stretch.
This post is an extract of my mother’s travel journal written during a tour of Japan in 2014.