Not all the old fonts and machines were consigned to museums or melted down. In a few corners of the world, such as Kazui Press in Tokyo, they continue to operate. Kazui was run by Juzo Takaoka from 1956 until his son, Masao, took over in 1995. The younger Mr Takaoka still runs the firm.
Letterpress is a far more arduous business in Japanese than in English; it takes 3,000-4,000 characters to print a book or newspaper. It is also expensive—Kazui business cards are ¥20,000 ($185) per hundred. But Mr Takaoka still has plenty of customers. In explanation, he points to a grey ceramic cup into which he has poured tea. “You can serve or drink tea in a plastic or paper cup. The process would be the same: you bring the cup to your mouth and you drink tea. But it’s more tasteful to drink from a ceramic cup, no?”