Folding screen with abundant gold leaf
Influence of the rich Momoyama
The details of when and how Kanazawa's gold leaf painting started are not known. In the ancient manuscripts, however, it is noted that Maeda Toshiie, the founder of Kaga clan ordered in his letter home to manufacture gold and silver leaf, on his way to the Korean expedition in 1593 (the 2nd year of the Bunroku epoch) by the order of Toyotomi Hideyoshi.
Influenced by the rich Momoyama civilization, there were demands for gold and silver.
While gold had been mined in Kanazawa and Kaga's lords supported the development of fine art craftsmanship in the region, it was after Rennyo who campaigned Buddhist teachings in the region, when a number of Buddhist temples were built, leading demands for gold leaf works for temples and religious altars.
In 1696 (the 9th year of the Genroku epoch) of the Edo period, gold and silver leaf became controlled products under the Tokugawa Government. Gold leaf manufacturing was restricted except only in Edo and silver leaf manufacturing was restricted only in Kyoto. In Kanazawa, however, gold leaf manufacturing continued quietly.
Excellent craftsmanship holds|
In 1845 (the 2nd year of the Koka epoch), the Government granted Sano Sasuke the permission to sell Edo's gold leaf in. In 1864 (the 1st year of the Ganji epoch), permit to manufacture gold leaf was granted to clan's appointed manufacturers. From this point on, the gold leaf of Kanazawa made a remarkable progress both in quality and in quantity. At the time, there were over 100 gold leaf craftsmen. They were earning twice the wage of, for example, carpenters. The gold leaf craftsmen were the elite of all craftsmen.
After the Meiji Restoration (1868), the gold leaf manufacturing industry in Kanazawa barely survived through drastic social changes. In Tokyo, Edo's gold leaf manufacturing industry ceased to exist completely. Natural environment such as climate and clear water of the region blessed Kanazawa to restore and establish basis for the industry. And by 1880 (the 13th year of the Meiji period), the number of gold leaf craftsmen reached 1500.
By the last term of the Meiji period, Miura Hikotaro completed the mechanization of gold leaf pressing, that placed Kanazawa at the top of gold leaf manufacturing industry.