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In the entrance of Nousaku in Takaoka, Toyama Prefecture, a group of schoolchildren skip by and point excitedly at an eclectic display of hundreds of brightly colored objects. Other visitors, meanwhile, look down in wonder toward the concrete floor, where a huge golden silhouette of the Japanese archipelago gleams as it catches sunlight streaming in from nearby floor-to-ceiling windows.

At first glance, it all looks like a conceptual art piece, but this isn’t a gallery. Nousaku is a metal foundry with a history that dates back more than a century, and it’s the first of several stops on a recent tour of Takaoka’s craft industries.

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PHOTO GALLERY (CLICK TO ENLARGE)