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

Liqueur products, including Snowdrop and plum wine, have grown to become an another of the brewery’s mainstay products.231ing which brewery owner to call for help for recovery.As it turned out, Akebono Shuzo was unaffected, but many breweries in Fukushima were unable to return or no longer fit to brew sake.“We faced an incredible situation that was forcing us to leave our home-town for reasons beyond our control. That made me realize my strong love for Fukushima, and I again made up my mind to pursue my ideal way of sake brewing so as not feel any regret later.”While still struggling with the post-disaster cleanup, Suzuki, who was determined to reform the brewery, announced his vision to employees, requesting more discipline and dedica-tion of each to create good sake and to become a brewery that can pass on something to the local community. This caused all veteran staff to quit, leaving Suzuki and only two young employees. He asked his cousin to help, and the four young people, whose average age was 29, made a new start for Akebono Shuzo.Exploring the brewery’spotential by making various types of sakeSuzuki went ahead with the reform and at the same time energetically engaged in sake brewing, always thinking what he can do in Aizu, Fukushima Prefecture.The disaster broke bottles of Tenmei and caused different grades, from junmai (genuine rice grade) to daiginjo (the second highest grade), to get mixed up. After applying a heating process again to the mixture, he start-ed selling it as Heart Tenmei in May 2011 and donated a part of sales to children orphaned by the disaster. In June, he rolled out Snowdrop, a sake-based yogurt liqueur, and has been using the profit from its steady sales to invest in equipment.In November, he started sales of Tenmei Nakadori Zero-go, which used Inahokogane, a type of very early ripen-ing sake rice only produced in Aizu Bange-machi at that time. This new brew of sake used the first batch of the rice that passed the prefecture’s radiation tests and embraces Suzuki’s desire to show, before anyone else, that Fukushima’s sake is safe and unaffected.The reform rejuvenated Akebono Shuzo and created a remarkably posi-tive atmosphere. The morale of employ-ees was boosted as the brewery began to produce a number of sake products incorporating their aspirations. They continued to explore their potential by trying the yamahai technique of the authentic kimoto sake brewing method and making Tenmei Shogyoku, the highest grade of Tenmei, for the first time in a decade as well as other vintage brands of sake. The brewery consequently received a Gold Prize in Heart TenmeiAkebono Shuzo donated 600 yen per bottle sold to the Ashinaga Scholarship Society for the Great East Japan Earthquake orphans support fund. It was the first “disaster relief” sake, which later became popular and has been produced around Japan to help people in that and subsequent disasters.SnowdropAkebono Shuzo had been experimenting with liqueur using yogurt produced in Aizu Bange-machi based on an idea of a local sake store for two years. The document approving its production arrived on March 10, 2011, a day before the disaster.FUKUSHIMAE24

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