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The online magazine HIGHLIGHTING JAPAN


The Japanese and Gold (Part I)

Cover OCTOBER 2022


  • THEME FOR OCTOBERThe Japanese and Gold (Part I)

    Gold has been a cherished aspect of Japanese culture since ancient times. Many historical examples of gold-covered structures and artifacts survive, such as the Konjikido (Golden Hall) (pp. 10–11) at Chuson-ji Temple, Iwate Prefecture, and the Yomeimon Gate at the Nikko Toshogu Shrine (pp. 12-13), Tochigi Prefecture. For centuries, Japan was one of the world’s largest producers of gold (pp. 7–9), with mines such as that preserved on Sado Island in Niigata Prefecture (pp. 16–17), and this is reflected in gold’s lavish use in huge gold-leaf-backed screen paintings (pp. 20–21), luxurious fabrics (pp. 22–23), as well as in everyday objects. In Part I of a two-part Feature, we introduce some of the ways in which Japanese people have cherished gold.



  • The Production and Use of Gold in Japan

    An interview with Dr. Murakami Ryu, director of the Takaoka Art Museum and Specially- Appointed Professor at Kyoto Arts and Crafts University

  • The Golden Hall of Chuson-ji Temple

    The Konjikido (Golden Hall) at Chuson-ji Temple in Hiraizumi Town, Iwate Prefecture, is a striking example of kai-konjiki (all gold) Buddhist architecture.

  • The Glittering Beauty of the Yomeimon Gate at the Nikko Toshogu Shrine

    The Yomeimon Gate at the Nikko Toshogu Shrine in Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture is decorated with more than 240,000 pieces of gold leaf.

  • Oban, Japan’s Giant Gold Coins

    Introducing oban, the large gold coins made by the Edo shogunate and Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who unified Japan

  • The Tokugawa Shogunate's Gold Mines

    The Sado Kinzan Gold Mine on Sado Island in Niigata Prefecture was once a major contributor to the Tokugawa Shogunate's finances.

  • Kanazawa Gold Leaf

    Gold leaf made in Kanazawa City, Ishikawa Prefecture, accounts for more than 98% of all the gold leaf produced in Japan.

  • Masterpieces of Kinpeki Shouhekiga at Chishakuin Temple

    Chishakuin Temple in Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto City, houses several masterpieces of large, gold-leaf-backed paintings known as kinpeki shouhekiga.

  • Nishijin Kinran: Kyoto’s Magnificent Gold Brocade

    “Nishijin Kinran,” gold brocade made in the Nishijin district of Kyoto City, combines the traditions of Kyoto Nishijin weaving with modern technology.