Kyoto is home to acclaimed artisans who have kept alive the techniques of traditional crafts, often by using them in surprisingly contemporary ways. A few of these individuals can be found living and working behind sliding wooden doors in quiet, residential neighborhoods.
Hakuya Noguchi, a fourth generation gold leaf artisan, lives and works in a Meiji-era wooden townhouse (known as a machiya) where he creates the materials for exquisite obis, or kimono sashes, woven from shredded washi paper “threads” covered with precious metals. At the same time, he uses his skills to make stunning abstract designs on paper.
A genial man who speaks some English, he coats fibrous paper made from mitsumata, or the oriental paper bush, with lacquer, applies gold, silver and platinum leaf in intricate patterns, and then shreds the paper into fringe-like threads which are eventually woven into gorgeous kimonosashes.
Here are some of the tools he uses in the application of the lacquer and the metal leaf. Traditionally the brushes are made of women’s hair which, at least in Japan, is thick and smooth, and can be cut to the desired shape and length.
Gold Leaf Art (Yasushi and Takuro Noguchi): 81-75/415-1150