JAPAN TRAVEL: Sakuda Gold & Silver Leaf Crafts
Gold is something that’s considered precious anywhere you go–even in the land of the rising sun. From jewelry to displays, food, and even makeup, gold has found its way into the lives of people, especially in the city of Kanazawa.
The gold leaf (sometimes called Kanazawa leaf) industry of Kanazawa has been around for 400 years, churning out one high-quality leaf after another. In fact, Kanazawa still produces almost all of Japan’s gold leaves (99%) and all (yes, ALL) of Japan’s silver leaves.
One of the best places to see this in action is at Sakuda Gold & Silver Leaf Crafts. Located in Higashiyama, Sakuda has been around since 1919 and has steadily produced gold-accented pieces for distribution in and out of Kanazawa. It’s a fascinating place to go if you’re into the glitz and glamour brought about by seeing gold.
They have a shop that welcomes visitors with anything and everything you can think of that can be laced with gold: chopsticks, makeup, bowls, cats with the one waving arm (maneki neko), and food.
Yes, food. Don’t believe us? Wait until they serve you Japanese tea with gold leaves. It doesn’t taste any different from usual Japanese tea, but the gold is something else.
You can also see men and women working on gold leaves on the first floor. Their workshop lets you see the entire process of making their signature 0.1-micron-thin gold leaves as well as how it’s applied to various objects.
If you’re looking to see the limits of the applications of Kanazawa leaves, check out the second floor where you can see their exhibit. You’ll see a few pieces Sakuda is proud of, including a set of Japanese swords covered in gold.
Even a trip to the bathroom is worth it, with the women’s golden bathroom and the men’s platinum walls!
The pièce de résistance, however, is their gold leaf laying workshop. They have four scheduled throughout the day (9 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m.), but you can call them ahead of time if these schedules won’t work for you. The workshop price varies on the item you want to use:
- Chopsticks (1 pair): ¥600
- Round plate: ¥1,100
- Mini cherry box: ¥1,200
- Mini square box: ¥1,300
- Mini plum box: ¥1,500
- Compact mirror: ¥1,400
- Adjustable rack: ¥1,700
- Natural wood pendant: ¥3,400/¥4,600
Workshops can go for as long as one hour, with the instructor guiding you through every step of the process. Once done, you can take home your product immediately! You can also shop afterward and get a 10% discount on any item in the store!
A word of caution, though: the gold leaves are so thin that even if they are applied perfectly to an item, there is still a chance they can be removed. The workaround (as told to us by our master) is to apply a clear coat of nail polish on the gold, and let it set for about two weeks.
How to get there
Getting to the Sakuda Gold & Silver Leaf Crafts main store is easy enough. Just take any of Kanazawa City’s buses from Platform 7 at Kanazawa Station and get off at Hashiba-Cho, then walk about five minutes to get to Sakuda. If you’re not keen on buying a bus ticket every time, use your Hokuriku Arch Pass to save ¥50 on your Kanazawa Loop Bus Unlimited Ride ticket!
Address: 1-3-27 Higashiyama, Kanazawa-shi, Ishikawa-ken
Operating hours: 9 am to 6 pm (varies by season, open year-round)
Written by Andronico Del Rosario
Supported by GCP
This first appeared in Philippine Primer Magazine Vol. 33 – December issue.