About half way along Kappabashi-dori, in the heart of Tokyo's kitchenware district, there's a beautiful shop named Kama Asa that is devoted to the sale of cast ironware. It may come as a surprise to the Western kitchen-goods shopper because in many countries the production of cast iron is all but dead. Though you might find a few pieces in the odd shop, you certainly wouldn't find a store devoted entirely to the craft. The use of cast-iron kitchen goods (despite its known qualities and health benefits) has almost evaporated in Europe, apart from the occasional casserole or frying pan.

You would also struggle to find a factory still producing anything in cast iron in Europe, while in Japan — especially Iwate Prefecture — there are several. One obvious reason for the survival of cast-ironware here is the tea tradition and the enduring popularity of cast-iron teapots. But even so, it's a measure of the strength of Japanese craft that Kama Asa — now more than a century old — not only exists, but appears to be doing well in a world of Nespresso convenience.

Inside the elegantly designed store — which has something of a gallery-like atmosphere to it — there are many teapots and various other useful objects such as vessels for making nabe hot pots, small windproof barbecues and other wholesome articles connected to the preparation of food.