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. 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.
The Maeda family, who ruled the Kaga Clan (the present Ishikawa and Toyama areas) in feudal times, invited many artisans to Kanazawa. The Shogunate in Edo (present Tokyo), however, allowed gold beating in limited areas, such as Edo and Kyoto. Therefore, it is around the second half of the 19th century when the production of gold leaf was revived publicly in Kanazawa.
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 2/10,000 mm. Presently, Kanazawa produces 99% of domestic gold leaf and 100% of domestic silver leaf and platinum leaf. These products generically called "Kanazawa haku" are Japan's designated traditional handicrafts.
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 tableware, woodenware, ornaments, and accessories. Moreover, there are stores where you can see the production of gold leaf or experience gold leaf pasting to goods, such as vessels.