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Kampai? Certainly not to these guys!
The world is not all rosy. That is why you need your favourite drinks. But when I feel deprived of my last pleasure, I can become downright nasty…
March being a quiet month as far as teaching business is concerned, I decided to pay a visit to Kumpai Brewery across the Abe River in Shizuoka City early this afternoon. I had to pick up a couple of limited nama ginjo and dai ginjo bottles there, as well as ask for an interview. Mr. Ichikawa seemed only too glad to oblige and agreed on a date next week.
Along the way I had noticed a very large hangar cum company with the big name of Shinkon Sake. Uh? Why didn’t I notice that before.?
I decided to investigate and left my bicycle at the entrance. I simply barged in the very large lobby office, politely produced my shizuokasake blog name card and introduced myself as a Shizuoka Sake History Researcher, a big title full of ballooney but that has opened a lot of doors so far. The lady who welcomed me went to wake up the « katcho san » who was dozing in front of everyone. They must feel pretty secure and prosperous to show that kind of attitude…
The unsmiling katcho san came to me with a photocopy of his company’s official history for my benefit. So far, so good. I started asking innocuous questions in spite of all the information clearly written in Japanese before my eyes.
-When was your company founded?
-8th Year Taisho Era
-Was your company originally in Shizuoka City?
-Kakegawa City. That is from 10th year Taisho Era
-When was it established in Shizuoka City?
-In 1952 after it was rebuilt after the war.
-Has it stayed in Shizuoka City since then?
-No, we moved to Okayama City in 1956 under the present name of Hiraki Brewery. We opened a branch In Hamamatsu City in the same year.
-Why did you move to Wakayama City?
-Sorry, corporate privacy!
At that moment, to say that my interlocutor’s face was unhappy was a gross understatement. I « apologized » and followed a different tack.
-Although your company name is Hiraki Brewery advertizing Hiraki Honjozo (apparently they do not brew anything of better standing), I noticed the names of Nihon Sakari and Shinkon (I was playing the fool there). Do you also sell them?
-That is correct (the katcho san was becoming bored with the whole affair).
-I saw your casks at Sengen Shrine in Shizuoka City. Did your company donate them?
-That is correct.
I had enough by then. After some nonsensical comments about their branches in Shizuoka Prefecture and what else, I took my leave (politely).
Simply put, Hiraki Company was a true Shizuoka Prefecture Brewery until 1956, when they either bought themselves or were acquired in Okayama City. They used and expanded their roots inside Shizuoka Prefecture to inundate us with the products of no less than 31 companies through 10 outlets in Shizuoka Prefecture, going as far as to declare their company in Shizuoka City as their Mother Company!
No wonder that so many bars, izakayas and restaurants do not feature Sake brewed in Shizuoka Prefecture on their menus!
I mentioned all this to Mr. Ichikawa of Kumpai Brewery again. He nodded with a wry smile. When I remarked it was about time Shizuoka Brewers acted in concert, he smiled again…
Life in the future promises to become a little more interesting!
Kampai to that!
1) I happened to see Hiraki Hinjonzo almost everywhere during the next days. The interesting thing is that they write the name in the inverted order, although their website is clearly written Hiraki…
2) I soon found out that Shinya Totsuka, Hiraki Co’s main shareholder, is nothing less than Kakegawa City Mayor! Blimey, they are everywhere, aren’t they?
3) Last, can someone tell me why Hiraki Company and Fuuki materialized in Shizuoka exactly the same year?