"Everyone says their products are 'made in Japan,' " says Katsuhiko Nakano. "But it's not really true. I doubt it."

In his east Tokyo workshop, across the Sumida river from Asakusa Station, Nakano is surrounded on all sides by handmade bags and tools for leatherwork. He is one of the few leather craftsmen in the city who still make goods by hand. But to be honest, he's not sure if he is comfortable being called a "craftsman."

Local governments in both Taito and Sumida wards — the two districts in Tokyo with a strong history of leather work — are trying to revitalize local crafts and small-scale manufacturing. In the past decade they've helped support small-scale manufacturers in a number of ways, including the opening of Taito Designers Village in 2004, an old school transformed into a collection of studios where makers can develop skills and relationships with local craftspeople. The goal is to encourage a new generation of local makers. To the north of Asakusa Station is the Asakusa Manufacturing Studio and Taito Ward Industrial Training Center, which provides facilities for local leatherworkers and creators. This was the location of the A-Round craft and manufacturing festival in November last year.