截金を現代に甦らせた「截金師 江里佐代子」 “Kirikane master Sayoko Eri” who revived Kirikane to the present age


Gold leaf that is also used in lacquer art. Do you know Kirikane, a traditional Japanese craft that uses gold leaf?


This time, I would like to introduce Sayoko Eri’s world of Kirikane, which I met and fascinated in Kyoto.


(In the following sentences, I will sometimes omit the title of honor.)

截金とは What is Kirikane?


Kirikane is a traditional Japanese decoration technique in which gold leaf is cut into ultra-fine lines or rhombuses and pasted to form a pattern.

截金の歴史 History of Kirikane


In Japan, from the Nara period to the Kamakura period, it was used only for the limited decoration of Buddhist statues and paintings.

時代 Era截金装飾の歴史 History of Kirikane decoration装飾物 Things to decorate
First half of the 6th century
朝鮮半島(現在の韓国) 忠清南道の百済国家の第25代国王武寧王の王妃の枕

Korean Peninsula (now South Korea) Pillow of the queen of King Muryeong, the 25th king of the Baekje nation in Chungcheongnam-do
→ Sliced gold leaf on red lacquer
Head pillow
Mid 7th century

Horyuji Tamamushi Shrine
→ A diamond-shaped foil is pasted on a part of the petals on Meru.
Buddhist box-shaped container
7th-8th centuries
法隆寺金堂 四天王立像
東大寺戒壇堂 四天王立像
Horyuji Kondo Four Tenno Statues
Todaiji Kaidan-do Four Tenno Statues
Buddha statue
Late 11th century
高野山金剛峰寺 仏涅槃図 金棺出現図
Koyasan Kongobuji Temple Buddha Reclining Buddha Appearance Picture
→ To fine and varied Kirikane decoration by free movement of lines
Buddha statues and paintings
13th-14th centuries
The heyday of Kirikane technology
Kirikane decoration on the entire clothing of the Buddha statue
Buddha statues and paintings
Decline of Buddhist art in general
Handed down to only a few Kirikane masters



From the middle of the Heian period to the Kamakura period, Kirikane played a major role in Buddhist art and is said to have been greatly sublimated into Kirikane, which is unique to Japan.

If you look closely at the clothes when you look at the old Buddha statues, you may see traces of kirikane. With the addition of the beauty of Kirikane decoration, I think that the Buddha statue at that time was beautiful.


In the past, the work of handling gold leaf used for kirikane was divided into processes.

  • 打金箔工 ・薄師・箔師・箔打師(箔を打ち伸ばす工程)
  • 押金箔工(金箔を使って箔を押す=施す工程)
  • 細金師(箔を細長く竹刀で切る工程)
  • Uchikane-hakukou・Usu-shi・Haku-shi・Hakuuchi-shi (Process of stretching the foil)
  • Oshikane-hakukou (Pushing foil with gold leaf = application process)
  • Hosogane-shi (The process of cutting the foil into strips with a bamboo sword)


And Kirikane was said to be the work of a craftsman who was subordinate to the engraver and painter of the Buddha statue.


By the way, there is a material used for lacquer work called Kirikane, which is read in the same way, but this is not a gold leaf but a thin gold plate. It’s the same gold, but be careful as it’s easy to get confused.

截金の世界を現代に甦えらせた截金師 江里佐代子 Sayoko Eri, a Kirikane master who revived the world of Kirikane to the present day


Sayoko Eri, a Kirikane master, has passed away, but she is a modern person.

略歴 Career

年 Year歳 Age出来事 Event
Born in a long-established store of Kyoto embroidery
196419京都市立日吉ヶ丘高等学校美術課程日本画科 卒業
Graduated from Kyoto Municipal Hiyoshigaoka High School Art Course Japanese Painting Department
Graduated from Kyoto Private Seian Women’s Junior College Design Department Dyeing Course
197428仏師 江里康慧と結婚 Married to Buddha sculptor Kokei Eri
197833截金師 北村起祥に師事 Studied under Kirikane Kisho Kitamura
198136截金展(サンタフェ・アメリカ)Kirikane Exhibition (Santa Fe America)
Received the Kyoto Prefectural Craft Art Exhibition Grand Prize
198338第30回日本伝統工芸展 入選
Selected for the 30th Japanese Traditional Art Craft Exhibition
Since then, she has been selected and awarded every year.
Certified as the youngest and most important intangible cultural property holder in Japan
Engaged in interior decoration of Kyoto State Guest House
Died of cerebral hemorrhage in France for investigation

新しい截金の世界の模索 Searching for a new world of Kirikane



Sayoko Eri has entered the world of Kirikane by marrying her husband, a Buddhist engraver.

It seems that she was involved in the production under the heavy responsibility of taking part in the work of the Buddhist priest and the rigorous training. And it seems that she began to seek not only a limited place for Buddhist art decoration but also Kirikane as a pure decoration technique.


It can be inferred that exploring a new world of Kirikane was a considerable adventure in traditionally conscious Kyoto.



At first, she tried to make kirikane within the framework of traditional Japanese culture. Kirikane is used for various things such as jujube, kogo, and folding screen.

It wasn’t the Buddha statue that I saw Sayoko Eri’s work for the first time, but at the Teahouse Museum in Kyoto.

江里佐代子作品の特徴 Features of Sayoko Eri’s work

  1. 色・グラデーション Color / gradation
  2. 文様 Design
  3. 技術 Technique

1.色・グラデーション Color/ gradation
Color / gradationColor / gradation



The characteristic of Sayoko Eri’s work is the beauty of color that is born from a wonderful sense of color.

I was fascinated by such a mysterious sense of color that was so fresh that I was surprised when I first saw it, and that it was kind and enveloping somewhere.


The sense that she has accumulated since she was born, such as being from a long-established store of Kyoto embroidery and studying Japanese painting, was unique and wonderful.


When I see works in various places such as Nihonbashi Mitsukoshi’s art salon, it’s Sayoko Eri! There were several times to guess.

2.文様 Design


The patterns of Buddhist statues and paintings are often repeated traditional patterns such as Hanabishi, Cloisonne, and hemp leaves.


Sayoko Eri has created a pattern composition that allows new free lines to come and go, based on all such historical research and practice. And it has been reborn as a universal one that suits the modern age with high design.

3.技術 Technique


A fairly high level of technology is required to create patterns such as 2.


She seems to have used a foil closer to pure gold instead of a slightly less pure gold leaf, which is said to be easy to use for kirikane. I think that the difficulty of handling finely chopped gold leaf with the softness of gold is beyond imagination.



It’s hard to draw, but I think it’s a very difficult task to put a line without any deviation.

A considerable number of works have been produced.

漆と截金 Urushi and Kirikane



The combination of lacquer and kirikane is introduced as a unique technique of Sayoko Eri.

Kirikane, which has been applied to figurines such as Buddhist statues in history, was not applied to practical products because the foil was easily peeled off.




Therefore, it seems that he researched coating with lacquer for things that he frequently touches, such as incense and jujube.

Using the so-called “byakudan-nuri” coating as a hint, a thin layer of lacquer was applied on the gold leaf.

This was also a wonderful work, with the luster of lacquer enhancing the brilliance of gold in Kirikane.



Her daughter is also active as a kirikane master.

There is no real photo, so one of my daughter’s works that has been taken over is a watermark Kirikane.

参考リンク↓Reference link ↓



江里佐代子作品を通年見られる場所 京都迎賓館 A place where you can see Sayoko Eri’s works all year round Kyoto State Guest House



If you go to see Sayoko Eri’s work, you can see it all year round at the Kyoto State Guest House.

It is a facility under the jurisdiction of the government (Cabinet Office) as a place to entertain overseas guests.




Since it is a facility for understanding Japanese traditional culture, it is also a facility where traditional craft techniques are condensed. This is a relatively new facility that opened in 2005.

After the facility was opened, it was only possible to visit the facility for a limited time.
However, it has been open to the public all year since 2016.

It has become relatively easy to make reservations for visits.


Sayoko Eri’s Kirikane is placed on the door of the big stage of “Fuji no Ma” in the facility.



The general visit is basically accompanied by a guide, and once you have visited the place, you cannot turn back even if you want to see it again. Since you can walk around freely and cannot move in your own time, it is a tour within a limited time.(In the case of guided tour format)

Even so, it is a place where you can see the finest technology, so if you are interested, we recommend you to visit it when you go sightseeing in Kyoto.


Also, since the family is active in the world of traditional crafts, it seems that they are exhibiting works together with memorial exhibitions, so if you are interested, please go when there is an exhibition.

京都迎賓館リンク↓Kyoto State Guest House Link ↓



Of course, there are also lacquer and lacquer paintings at the Kyoto State Guest House. I would like to introduce it in another post.

参考文献 References

  • 銀座和光図録『江里佐代子截金展』,1990
  • 佐野美術館図録『金箔のあやなす彩りとロマン 人間国宝江里佐代子・截金の世界』,2005


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