Craft shop Bikazari Asano, run by a local kinpaku factory, offers you a variety of experiences upstairs.
Making Kinpaku gold leaf is quite delicate work. Just a coin-sized, tiny, gold lump can be beaten into a tatami-sized leaf that would blow away with just a small exhale from one’s nose! Yet there are many gold-related craft experiences everyone can enjoy. Why not have a try with kinpaku decorating at a shop in Higashi Chayagai geisha district, a place also known for its manufacture?
We visited the lovely craft shop Kanazawa Bikazari Asano with our friend Katja Oshigami who is originally from Germany. The location is pretty cozy, just behind the touristic main street. The shop lady let Katja get started as soon as she was ready. First, you pick a craft-making experience from a variety of decorating options.
Katja chose an accessory box. Then the lady showed some sample kinpaku patterns. Katja decided to try Tsubaki (Camelia) and Tohyama (distant mountain). Excellent choice!
She followed all the directions the lady gave, such as cutting off the excess masking sheets, pressing down the masking sheets to completely remove the air, and setting the kinpaku sheet gently. There were more things to do in the process than we thought. “Although my parents say I’m slow, I love these kinds of handcraft things!” Katja says. “It’s not too easy and not too difficult - just perfect for me.” Kinpaku is very thin, and thus can’t be rubbed forcefully; one has to press it with a sheet of paper for perfect decoration. The lady suggested Katja use a bamboo skewer to push down around the edges. Let’s check how her camelia is going! “You see that some spots are not covered with gold, don’t you?” the lady says. Then Katja added the leftover gold leaf to fill in the bare spots. Well done, Katja, well done! The camelia had more details than the mountain, so she could finish the mountain faster on her second try. The lady gave her a white glove to wipe off the excess kinpaku pieces on the box. Now the final phase!
Removing those masking sheets must be the most exhilarating moment of the process. Ta-da! You can experience a part of the artisans’ work and feel a sense of accomplishment. The shop lady completed Katja‘s work by adding a quick coating. It’s a 35-min fun-filled experience. There are other activities you can participate in as well, such as decorating post cards or other fabric items. Decorating a post card is the quickest; on the other hand, fabric items are more laborious. Be sure to ask how long each process takes. Also remember that all the kinpaku decorating experiences at Kanazawa Bikazari Asano are available on Mondays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Spend some quality time at this cozy shop while looking down at the lovely backstreets of the geisha district from upstairs!
Kinpaku Decorating Experience
Price and duration: Postcard ¥500 (10 mins); chopsticks ¥800 (20 mins); fabric coaster ¥800 (20 mins) / Open: Mondays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays / Reception: 10:00-15:00
Kanazawa Bikazari Asano
Higashi Chayagai geisha district (1-8-3, Higashiyama)
Open: 9:00-18:00; Closed: Tuesdays