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The Sankei West site has a report on a brewery hit by the heavy flooding in western Japan – and the people helping it recover.

The venerable Morikawa brewery is located in Kure, Hiroshima Prefecture, one of the towns hit by heavy rains and flooding in July 2018. Four people died in the city during the disaster.

The brewing buildings were flooded, but thanks to the efforts of volunteers Morikawa was able to resume shipping on 17 July after a break of 12 days. The 7th generation owner, Tomonori Morikawa described it as a long-awaited first step towards recovery.

On the night of 6 July 2018, Morikawa was in his own home next door to the brewery as torrential rain continued to fall. He heard an alarm on the disaster radio that the Norogawa Dam upriver from Kure was releasing water as an emergency measure. At around 4:00 am on 7 July 2018, he heard the sound of rushing water. He looked out the window and saw the Noro River that ran beside his home on the verge of breaking its banks. Rushing out to the brewing buildings, he found them flooded with around 30 cm of water. The water receded around noon, but left the brewing and storage buildings covered with a layer of mud. Around 1,000 cases of sake bottles about to be shipped were soaked in it.

After the flooding had passed, Morikawa had started trying to clear up when he was joined by a group of volunteers – staff of the sake retailers he dealt with who had heard about the damage to his brewery. They cleaned up the muddy bottles, leaving Morikawa intensely grateful that there were indeed people who would come to help him in his hour of need.

And on 17 July, he was able to ship 50 cases, including the brewery’s signature tokubetsu junmai Hakukō. Watching the sake leave the brewery, Morikawa regretted the delay to his deliveries but was relieved to see the bottles going out.

There are reports from all over the country of sake retailers wanting to set up “disaster zone support sections” with products from affected regions. Morikawa is touched by the thought of so many people wanting to support him and others who have suffered. He still has work to do before the brewery returns to normal, including cleaning the brewing tanks, but plans to put all his efforts into promoting sake from Kure and using it to bring good cheer back to his city.