The Essence of Japanese Craftwork


Kinkarakami dates back to the Meiji Era in 1870's. It was originated in Europe of the 17th century. Thin pieces of calf or goat hide pasted to metal foil are pressed into patterns and varnished and painted. It decorated the walls and ceilings of palaces and temples in Europe. Japanese craftsmen developed this using Japanese paper instead of hide. The production reached its peak around 1898 since it was introduced at the Vinenna Exhibition in 1873. Export expanded. However, mass production at low cost resulted in poor quanlity and stale designs, and by 1962 the Kinkarakami industry disappeared completely. 


In 1983, Takashi Ueda (上田尚) who was impressed by the elaborately carved wood rollers in the Paper Museum in Tokyo, quit his job and dedicated himself to the reproduction of Kinkarakami. He has finished restoring and reproducing all the Kinkarakami wallpapers throughout Japan. Takashi, an elected quasi national treasure, now has a young successor to hand down his skill to.




After the war in 1945 until 1956, the official residence of the Commander-in-Chief of the Kure Naval Base, later designated as Important Cultural Asset, at Irifuneyama Park, had been used by Commanders-in-Chief of the British Commonwealth Occupation Forces. The house was remodeled to their taste and painted white all over. However, in 1991, during the restoration of the residence at the Irifuneyama Park, what appeared under the white paint was the wall covered with Kinkarakami with the hallmark of "Made in Japan" stamped on it. With the great help of Mr Ueda, the time-honored Kinkarakami was revived on the walls and ceiling and the house was beautifully restored into its original state. 



#95 Parkway Vol.14 No.4 October - December 2000


#127 Parkway Vol.23 No.1 January - March 2009




金唐紙は1870年代の明治時代にさかのぼる。17世紀のヨーロッパ発祥で、金箔を貼った子牛やヤギの薄い皮革を版木に打ち込んだあと、ニスを塗り、彩色したもので、ヨーロッパの宮殿や寺院の壁や天井の装飾として使われた。そして、日本の職人が、皮革の代わりに和紙を使って開発した。 1873年ウィーン博で紹介され、1898年頃に生産のピークを迎える。輸出は拡大したが、低コストでの大量生により、品質は落ち、デザインも陳腐になり、1962年までには金唐紙産業は完全に消滅した。