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A tin specialist in small-town Japan has designs on global renown

Nousaku's tableware mellows taste of sake and wows Michelin-star restaurateurs

After Japan's bubble economy collapsed in 1991, a traditional copper caster began working with hard-to-shape tin and now turns out pieces like this flexible basket that has made its way to New York's Museum of Modern Art. (Photo by Ken Kobayashi)

TOYAMA, Japan -- When the then director of an elite French restaurant saw some tableware at an exhibition in 2014, he fell in love. His boss, globally renowned chef Alain Ducasse, felt the same -- and now those objects grace their restaurant tables.

What caught the eye of Ducasse and his staff were pieces made of 100% pure Japanese tin -- "unique" objects with a softness about them and great artistic skill, according to Olivier Guenot, the director in charge of tableware for Ducasse restaurants.

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