Case Studies of Business Recovery in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima, 2019-2020

Annual Japan Sake AwardsThe only refined sake evaluation event held at a national level, which started in 1911 (in the Meiji era). At the 107th event to evaluate sake produced in 2018, brewers submitted 857 sake brands, of which 237 received a Gold Prize.Wajo RyoshuA saying that means people’s harmony makes good sake, often used in the Japanese sake industry to express sake brewing. It is also used in the reverse meaning that good sake creates people’s harmony.Akebono Shuzo Co., Ltd.062030Strides toward recovery6001,20004002008001,000[SDGs] Toward 2030●Nov.: Held the sixth “Enjoy the First Squeeze” event and received more than 400 participants.20191,150(expected)220(expected)●Started sales of Shogyoku, the premium grade of Tenmei, for the first time in 10 years.●Mar.: Tenmei won the Governor’s Award in Fukushima Prefecture’s Refined Sake Fair.20181,100200Government support for SME group2012100550●Started sales of Homura, a version of Tenmei produced by using the yamahai technique.2013113585●Nov.: Started holding the “Enjoy the First Squeeze” event and received 83 participants for the first event.20141206502015130720●Mar.: Issho Seishun won the Governor’s Award in Fukushima Prefecture’s Refined Sake Fair.2016160795201050002011●May: Started sales of Heart Tenmei.●June: Started sales of Snowdrop.●Nov.: Started sales of Tenmei Nakadori Zero-go.500202017180860Rened sakeLiqueurReturning home in 2007 to learn sake brewing from the very basicsAkebono Shuzo, operating in Aizu Bange-machi for more than 100 years since its foundation in 1904 (in the Meiji era), started full-fledged produc-tion of ginjoshu, an upper grade of sake, in the 1990s. Its Issho Seishun, which was produced on their own after shifting from the traditional outsourced sake brewing style, has a proud history of winning a Gold Prize at the Annual Japan Sake Awards for three years in a row from 1999.The brewery is currently managed by Suzuki Koichi, its sixth successor and the Representative Partner in charge of sake brewing. Suzuki, who was then working for a company in Tokyo, returned home in 2007, after Akemi, his mother who was the touji (master brewer) of the brewery, fell ill, followed by Takanori, his father who was the brewery’s sales director. Shortly before his return, he took a drink of Tenmei, another sake made by the brewery, at a bar in Tokyo and realized something was wrong back home, as the sake had clearly lost its flavor.After returning home, he started learning sake brewing from the very basics. Being told by his mother who created Issho Seishun that sake brew-ing is learned by drinking sake, he spent his “training days” by drinking 3,000 brands of sake a year and mak-ing a note of each. While doing so, he attended the Sake Brewing Academy, a vocational school of the Fukushima Prefecture Sake Brewers Cooperative, for three years.“At the academy, I met brewery owners of around my age and a young teacher willing to give advice. In the second and third years, I also attended lectures of the National Research Institute of Brewing and met brewery owners with high aspirations and skilled employees supporting the future of each brewery. I was truly inspired by them and felt like I was reborn. A vague feeling that ‘We should not go on in this way’ became a solid belief, and I made up my mind to change the sake brewing at Akebono Shuzo.”Determined to become abrewery that can pass on something to the localcommunityAround that time, Akebono Shuzo was becoming out of control as veteran employees began to have a greater voice.“At first, I tried to get along with them under the spirit of Wajo Ryo-shu, but the effort did not bring good sake. To ‘beg’ them to leave, I talked to my parents but could not persuade them.”Suzuki was determined to pursue the way of sake brewing that he believed was the best regardless of any trouble he may face, but before he had a chance to tell employees, the Great East Japan Earthquake hit Tohoku on March 11.The disaster partially destroyed the brewery’s all three production buildings and damaged 3,000 bottles of sake ready for shipping. The incident at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant added another sense of tension differ-ent from the one caused by the earth-quake itself. At that time, Suzuki was already preparing for the worst, think-Trends in brewing amount (Unit: koku = about 180 liters)April–March of following yearWith the goal of becoming a brewery that makes children of its employees want to join, Akebono Shuzo is striving to create a pleas-ant work environment, offer rewarding work and gain the love of local people.Become a brewerythat makes families proudE23

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