Fukushima Sake Brewer Rescues Yeast From Nuclear Exclusion Zone & Resumes Production!
In June 2011, I blogged about a TV news report that covered a Japanese family’s struggle to save their sake business after being forced to abandoned their brewery, which was located within the Fukushima Daiichi exclusion zone.
Here is an update on their situation (from January 2012):
First, let’s review their mission to recover the yeast.
Their ancestors started the business in the Edo Period. But now that business has been suspended because their home and brewery is 3.6 kilometers from the nuclear plant.
They were close enough to hear the hydrogen explosion that took place on March 12th. Although they had no electricity at the time and did not know that an evacuation had been ordered, they left anyway.
It now seems that they will never be able to move back into their home and re-open that brewery, but they still want to revive their family sake business. To maintain the unique traditional flavor of their sake, they needed some of the yeast from their brewery. Authorities gave them special permission to enter the restricted area and retrieve the yeast. Although the brewery had suffered some damage from aftershocks, the yeast was safe!
Now, to the new info:
Having confirmed that the yeast had suffered no damage or contamination from the earthquake and radiation, they set out to brew some sake. They formed a partnership with the Hanaharu Shuzo company, using the company’s factory in Aizu Wakamatsu. The rice and water came from the Aizu Wakamatsu area, but the yeast was grown from the sample rescued from their brewery in Futaba.
After three weeks of brewing, it was ready for a taste test. The father and daughter had a few sips and were delighted to discover it had a familiar and great taste! It was a very emotional moment for the family, as they had feared that their sake business could have been destroyed forever. The daughter was moved to tears.