Did you know that Japan is using recycled materials to create the medals that will be awarded during the Tokyo 2020 Olympics? There’s more than enough gold, silver and bronze to extract from discarded computer parts, cellphones and other e-waste to create over 2,500 medals for the major world event. These medals are being made from over 47,000 devices and over 5 million used cellphones.

That’s a fun fact, but Japan’s use of gold goes far beyond temporary events and awards. Maybe you’ve already noticed it – gold is used a lot in Japan. The country is the world’s eighth largest holder of gold reserves. It should come as no surprise, then, that gold tends to be used rather liberally for decorative, beauty, and (mostly) consumption purposes.

Japanese architecture using gold

You’re probably familiar with this super famous pavilion, right? If it’s at the top of your list of things to see in Kyoto, we don’t blame you.

The top two levels are covered with pure gold leaf, which was created in and delivered from Ishikawa Prefecture. Over 400 years ago, Ishikawa started making a name for itself as a gold craft producing region. They created the thinnest version of gold that the world had ever seen, coming in at just 0.1 to 0.0125 millionths of a meter. It’s so thin, in fact, that it will dissolve if you rubbed it with your fingers.

It’s not hard to see why the gold leaf was chosen as the material to decorate the golden pavilion. Great move by the Japanese from decades past, since this site attracts millions of local and international visitors annually.

Eat gold on ice cream and dusted on chips while you can!

We mentioned that Ishikawa is a gold crafting region. Well, they’re not scared to sprinkle a bit in your bowl of ramen, your steaming cup of matcha tea, or liberally wrap soft sheets of gold around your sweet ice cream.

Are you going to pay a premium for it? Of course.

Are you going to have a great Instagram photo and story to recount? For sure.

Is it worth the experience? Definitely.

Although Ishikawa sells these products year-round, there’s a special one-time only product that is going to be hitting the Lawson convenience store shelves nationwide. In celebration of the new Japanese emperor, and the welcoming in of the new Reiwa (“Beautiful Harmony”) era, you’ll be able to buy a bag of gold dusted chips for “just” 300 yen (about $2.80). Where’s the gold sourced from? You guessed it – Ishikawa.

So, what do you think? Are gold products worth it?

You won’t have to look too hard to find gold products in Japan, and they of course go far beyond the five or six items we mentioned above. USB drives, jewelry boxes, beauty face masks and far more are on offer. So, how about you? Are you interested in buying or eating gold while in Japan?

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